Turns out that about half of all Americans quit their diet during the holidays. I was one of them. Most of us have been.

The feel-good delights found steaming on the table from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve is a health journey minefield. My wife, Tiffany, and I have stepped on just about every one of them. 

That’s why we teamed together to give you waistline-saving advice for the holidays.

Some tips will feel easy and natural to you, while others will be hard. But they will help you achieve your goals and feel good about yourself the next day. 

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. 

Also, as a bonus to the four tips below, sign up for the Howard Hustle to get our Thriving Through the Holidays Checklist!

thriving cheat sheet

Do Hard Things

When you go through a hard time, you have the chance to grow through a hard time. 

We have a saying in our home, “Howards do hard things.” It’s our family motto. We repeat it often to ourselves and our kids. Why? 

Because we don’t grow in our comfort zones: pain activates your potential. 

It would be great to live a life of ease and rake in all the gains. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works. 

No grind, no gains. When we say yes to hard work, we say yes to winning. 

Refusing to do the hard thing is not an option when our health is on the line.

Here are our top four tips for getting the most out of the holidays and your health journey.

1. Your Goal Needs A Plan

I know what it’s like to epically fail at keeping my health goals. All through the holiday season, I’d ride the rollercoaster: 

Eat way too much…

Wake up the next day feeling like a loser…

Promise myself that was the last time…

Do it all again the very next get-together.

Tiffany reminded me recently of a saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” 

It’s painfully true. 

Props to Benjamin Franklin for penning it. If only he had a Twitter account…  

If you don’t have a plan going into the holiday season, you have very little chance of keeping your goals. Every house needs a foundation, and every goal needs a plan. 

Here’s how to do it.

Think of the scenarios you may find yourself in at the next holiday event, then plan out what you will do.  Here are a few examples:

  • Snack: If you tend to get that second and third helping, then eat a healthy snack before you go so that you aren’t showing up starving. 
  • Bring Your Own Water: If you tend to drink your calories, bring a water bottle and be fully hydrated before you show up. It’ll help you feel less hungry too. 
  • Plan to cheat: You can plan to fudge on your diet. Take the guilt out of this year’s dessert by choosing, in advance, what and how much you will have. That way you will wake up with a clear conscience the next morning.

2. Live It Out Loud

Once you have your goal and plan, tell everyone! 

Post it on all your socials, talk about it at work, and (most importantly) tell your family and friends.

Doing this can feel scary. What if I don’t keep my plan? What if I skip the Turkey Trot, and people notice that I didn’t post about it? That’s precisely the point!

Leverage social pressure to keep yourself accountable. 

Think about it. You will probably post something during the holiday anyway. Why not hack your socials to help you reach your goals? 

It’s a win-win. 

Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on. Make your health journey a team effort.  Have a family member who can advocate for you when Auntie so-and-so insists you try her special death-by-chocolate poundcake.  

Instead of you against the world, start a group and do it together.

3. Finish The Year Strong

We don’t grow in our comfort zone, and the holidays surround us with comfort food! 

It’s a recipe for disaster.

As I said in my previous article, our mindsets determine our behavior, and our behavior determines our outcomes. What you think is what you get.

So think of it this way:

The holidays mark the final stretch of your health-journey marathon. It’s when you are most tired, most tempted to quit early and eat pie. After all, you’ve done pretty well this year, right? Why not just call it quits early?

Sure, you could do that. But you’d miss the best part: the finish line.

My wife cannot finish a race without crying. It’s when all the hard work, training, and grit finally pays off. There’s nothing quite like it!

You have a choice finish the race or finish off that second helping. 

Don’t get me wrong it’s not like everything hinges on a single day. As my trainer says, “one day doesn’t make you, one day doesn’t break you.”


Saying yes to your health goals this season could be the moment that breaks the chains of lifelong unhealthy habits.  

Your finish line is calling.