How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

78 comments

Good morning!

Well last night was interesting to say the least!!

Eric and I waited for my CTV News Interview to air at 6pm. We waited, and waited, and waited, and then it was over without my interview being aired. I guess they got their wires crossed with the air time. Around 10pm on Sunday, I got an email from a reader saying that the interview aired in British Columbia!!! lol. We checked the 11pm National CTV News as well as the 11:30pm Toronto News, but there was nothing. I am guessing it will air tonight in Ontario at 6pm!? I’m still waiting for confirmation. I will Tweet about it today when I find out!

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How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

For many people, the last few weeks of the year are often the most indulgent in terms of snacking, big meals, desserts, and easing up on the exercise routine. For years, I struggled with trying to find a balance between enjoying the pleasures of the holidays while still feeling healthy and energetic. I finally feel like I am at a place where I can find a good balance during the holidays and I’d like to share with you some of my favourite tips!

 IMG 7040 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

img 0956 thumb1   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 1. Stick With Your Exercise Routine
If there is one thing I try to always stay consistent with, it is exercise. Exercise sets the tone for the day and helps me make healthier decisions all day long. As soon as I feel like I have fallen off the wagon, I want to drop exercise and all other healthy intentions like a bad habit. It is easy to fall off the wagon, so I try to stick with it even when traveling. I will often call ahead to a nearby gym and see if I can get a free trial pass for a few days when I am away and I always bring my workout clothes, sneakers, and a workout DVD wherever I go. Most of the time I get up before the rest of the family is awake and I squeeze my workout in. Other times I ask family members to join me!
However, some days I won’t be able to get in my normal workout and that is understandable! If this is the case, I will try to do just 15 minutes of activity like a simple walk around the block or strength exercises like Whittle My Middle. Some exercise is better than no exercise. It all adds up and gets the endorphins flowing!

2. You Don’t Have To Attend Every EventIMG 7035 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays
In previous years, Eric and I have committed to more holiday events than we really had time for. This resulted in an overbooked calendar and not enough time to just kick our feet up and unwind. What works for us now is to pick one or two holiday parties to go to. This year, we decided that we are going to host our own party and that is it. My advice is to only commit to what you can and what you really want to attend. Less stress means that I will tend to make healthier food choices which is always an added bonus.

 IMG 1653 thumb1   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays3. Get Your Sleep
The amount of sleep I get builds the foundation for how healthy my day will be. I always try to get around 7.5-8 hours of sleep. When I am fully rested I don’t get as many cravings for high calorie and high fat foods and I have more energy to workout. If I get less than 7 hours of sleep, I know it is going to be a tough day to stick to my routine and I can pretty much guarantee I will be reaching for nutritionally void carbs all day long no matter how good my intentions are.

IMG 7770 thumb1   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 4. Bake Healthier
This was a tip I gave in Self Magazine. I always try to make healthy swaps when baking traditional recipes. This year I will probably make my Vegan Pumpkin Pie and Vegan Sweet Potato Pie for Christmas. I will also be making some healthy cookies and lots of Glo Bars to share with family and friends.

5. Fill Up The Tank With FiberIMG 2849 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays
When I am at a holiday dinner, I try to eat a lot of vegetables. They are high in water and fiber. I love filling my plate with vegetables and crunching away. The fiber in them won’t fill you up for a long time, but they will carry you from cocktails to the dinner table without feeling too famished. I try to aim for healthy foods to make up 75% of my plate and splurge foods 25%. If I am going somewhere I always try to bring one healthy option with me.

IMG 1788 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 6. Pick Your Poison
Sugary drinks give me killer hangovers so I try my best to stay away from cocktails and margaritas, no matter how delicious they look. I try to stick to red wine or light beer and drink a glass of water in between each drink that I have. This keeps me hydrated and headache free most of the time. However, even with the best intentions I overdo it with drinks, and this leads to Backup Plan B. ;)

7. Bring A Food Stash
Whenever I travel somewhere, I always pack a food stash. Healthy options can be far and few between, especially at gas stations or in remote areas.
On trips, I always pack: Vitamins (Vitamin C, D, Calcium.Magnesium, B12), Glo Bars, apples, bananas, almonds, Mary’s Crackers, Amazing Grass Powder, and Sencha Green tea. No matter where I am, I know that I have a healthy option on hand.

IMG 3069 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 8. Don’t Deprive Before Or After
In the past, I used to deprive myself in the meals leading up to a big holiday dinner and in the meals following a big dinner. This resulted in a couple things: 1) It made me grumpy and irritable, and 2) It led to over-eating. I have now learned to just eat normally before and after holiday meals. I eat my regular sized breakfast and lunch. I no longer feel that I have to deprive myself just because I am going to have an indulgent meal. The bigger deal you make out of the holiday meal, the more stress-inducing it will be. Just treat it was any other meal and enjoy it!

9. Eat Whatever You Want, But Eat Slower Than Normal
During holiday meals, I always eat what I want and how much I want, but I try to eat slower than usual. I am usually a fast eater, so if I try to enjoy and appreciate the food, I find that I notice my ‘full signal’ much sooner. Eating slower during a social gathering is usually very easy since I am usually engaged in conversation anyways!

IMG 2903 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 10. Lose The Guilt
Even with the best of intentions, I typically always over do it at least once during the holidays. ;) I have learned that the best way to get over it, is to just accept it for what it is and carry on with my day as normal! I try to get in a good workout first thing in the morning and guzzle a Green Monster and I am usually feeling back to my old self by lunch time. As I mentioned in Tip #8, I don’t deprive myself after a splurge anymore. I just carry on as normal and try not to think about it. It really isn’t the end of the world if I get off track for a day or two. The sooner I realize this, the happier I am!

11. Lose The All Or Nothing Mindset

All those years, I was sabotaging myself by saying, ‘Don’t worry, on Jan. 1st you will get back on track.’ I realized that this was the classic All or None Thinking. I needed to stop seeing the holidays as black or white or good or bad. I learned that I could still make healthy choices throughout the day even if I was going to have an indulgent meal. Just because I had two slices of pie and half a box of chocolates doesn’t mean the rest of my day or week can’t be based around healthy decisions. Remember, each decision is a FRESH decision!

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What part of the holiday season do you find the most difficult to stick to your healthy behaviours?

Have you learned any tips on how to stay on track?

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I’m off to bake…for those of you who have been asking, holiday orders started to ship out last Friday. I will be shipping them out in the order that I received them. You will receive a tracking number when your item ships out to confirm everything.

I have a special visitor from someone this week!!! Any guesses?? :)

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Last week of Project Feed Me is up- 2 bags of rice!

Angela Signature thumb8   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg December 7, 2009

Great post! This is definitely something that I need to see during this time of year– it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by all of the “comfort and joy.”

Regular exercise definitely helps keep me on track (and sane) during the holidays. Number 11 is also crucial for me– I have such a tendency to throw in the towel on eating healthy during this time of year, and think, “Oh, I’ll make up for it in January.” But how nice it would be to not have to “make up” for anything and just enjoy the New Year with a fresh, healthy mind and soul!

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Julie @ Wearing Mascara December 7, 2009

SUCH good tips :-) I really like what you said about “every decision is a fresh decision.” It’s very hard to control healthy habits over the holidays especially while traveling and being out of a comfort zone. For me, road trips can be tough. Thanks again for the great advice. Finding your blog has been such a positive thing in my life. Have a good day!

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is December 7, 2009

Great tips!!

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AGS December 7, 2009

Great tips — particularly exercise and SLEEP.

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Michelle @ Eatingjourney December 7, 2009

LOVE IT! I have totally overdone it while being home. I can feel it. The guilt and disappointment is eating away at me. I love the exercise tip and they ‘all or nothing’. I have lived in an ‘all or nothing’ world for a long time. It gets amplified in these types of situations and it doesn’t have to. Thank you for writing this :)

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Jessie December 7, 2009

Love this list! I always try to pack some of my own snacks when I travel. I like feeling like I have control over when I am eating (and being fed) when in situtations when I really don’t have much control (like at the in-laws).

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Kate December 7, 2009

Love the tips – definitely the “eat slowly” one will come in handy! I think that having a marathon (my first!) to train for will also help me stay on track.

Thanks again and happy holidays!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2009

I love the idea of setting a fitness goal over the holidays! Good for you. That is why I did Whittle My Middle…to keep me inspired over Decemburrrrrrr

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Pam December 7, 2009

A very great and helpful post….thank you!

Enjoy!

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caitlin December 7, 2009

i agree with only doing what you want to do in terms of holiday parties… thats kind of why we are leaving the country from Christmas Eve to January 4! we just need to escape from the pressures of get-togethers and what not… it’s going to be nice!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2009

you are going to have SO much fun!!!!!!!

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Carolyn December 7, 2009

Great tips!! Thanks!!

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nic December 7, 2009

Thanks a lot for this post!! I think the most things we all know, but to read it and bring it to the point is always good!!
I think the most difficult thing is to keep on track with working out, since all my dance classes are taking a break… Thank god only a week and thank god I know what I can practice while on break!
But this is definitely hard… But I’ll manage… There aren’t that much events around here.. And I’m glad… Because I’m not a big fan of food-events!! Not because of over-eating or such… Just because I see how all the others eat mindless and don’t really know how luck they are to have such an (over the top) selection! But nonetheless I love being with (most) of my family and will concentrate of the positive things!!
;)

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Shannon (The Daily Balance) December 7, 2009

great post!

Perfect tips to keep in mind this Holiday Season ;)

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Ann December 7, 2009

Aw, sad! What a bummer about your interview… hopefully CTV will get things squared away pronto (how very funny/odd about the BC thing!).

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Sana December 7, 2009

I also set my mind in having a healthy mind set and that I don’t need to eat everything in sight. Holiday parties are killer but I can do it!

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Gelareh @ Orange Truffle December 7, 2009

Great Tips!

The hardest part of the Holidays is traveling for me. Being away from my kitchen makes it very hard for me staying on track. This year though I am solving that problem by packing all that I need, this includes my juicer, blender and mixer… I will also do my grocery shopping and pack it all in a cooler and take it with me to my-in-law, this way I don’t have to worry about what they have and if I get to eat healty. We shall see how that works.

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Katy @ These Beautiful Feet December 7, 2009

Great post! I have the hardest time in this period right now, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems even if I try hard I still end up eating more sweets then I have the months before! I heard today that 51% of a person’s annual weight gain occurs during this one month period. Crazy right?? It’s best to indulge if you want, but not to overdo it and to remember you can make up for it every other day of the month! :)

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Lizzie December 7, 2009

Great tips Ange! These are a little tougher for me to stick to this year as one of my best friends from home is going to be staying over Christmas (usually only see her once a year at the moment), but going to see if I can make it work and still have some fun!

BTW, where did you get that really nice top you’re wearing in the first pic?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2009

Its from Lululemon..its a Shape Jacket :)

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Lizzie December 7, 2009

I thought so!! Gaahhhhh – I only discovered this shop a couple of months ago and it’s hard to stay away. I have two of their hoodies and love them. hey actually fit properly and the giant hood makes it very cozy. Yesterday I bought a pair of studio pants that are SO comfy, but still fit nicely. Must stay away!! Well, until I have to go in and pick up the running top I ordered over the weekend – oops! :)

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Ameena December 7, 2009

Exercise is the best way to start the day. And then like you said, regular meals until dinner so that you aren’t starving. As I get older I realize its really just another day and the same food is available to me all year long. So there is no need to try to pack it in all in one day!

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Megan December 7, 2009

I’m usually pretty good at staying on track besides for the few overindulgent meals during the holidays. This year I’m a little worried though, I have a fracture in my foot and have to wear a cast for 6 weeks; this has seriously messed up my workout routine. I’m trying to do things like eliptical but it just doesn’t compare to running, especially when you can’t go very fast or hard. I guess I’ll be hitting the gym more in January along with all the New years resolution people..Definitely not looking forward to that, sooo crowded.

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lena December 7, 2009

Hi angela, thanks for the great holiday tips! i have a question, will doing strength training through pilates and yoga reap the same results as strength training with weights or we need both? i have been reading on these and i’m a little unsure as i would like to try pilates and yoga instead of weights for a change but am afraid that it will not yield the same results. thanks, i hope you can help shed some light. i truly enjoy reading your blog. thanks again! :)

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Anne Marie @ New Weigh of Life December 7, 2009

Awesome tip! My tip to staying on track is to stay out of the kitchen. In my family, most of the food is served in the kitchen (along with appetizers). I find myself staying out of the kitchen and mingling with family in other rooms of the house. It keeps me occupied without the temptation of food I really don’t want anyway :)

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Bronwyn December 7, 2009

Nice tips.

Definitely agree with you on the keep up the exercise routine. Not only is it good to burn off those extra calories ;) but it totally keeps me sane; workout time is MY time. And it can be so enjoyable with family and friends too.
Definitely kick the guilt. That’s just bad news bears; it’s gonna lead to some problems later on…

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Beth @ DiningAndDishing December 7, 2009

Great tips Angela! I think the best advice is to eat in moderation instead of depriving yourself. It will almost always lead to over-eating later on!

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Estela @ Weekly Bite December 7, 2009

Love the tips! I totally agree!

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AGS December 7, 2009

So here is my dilemma: If the choice is between sleep and exercise, which do you pick? I have ended up choosing sleep. I’ve felt really frustrated with myself, though, that I am sacrificing something I value so much just to be able to function. Cutting out “events” is not an option for me. . . alas.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2009

I tend to pick sleep because sleep affects what foods I reach for…I think that adds up to a bigger impact than maybe 30 mins of exercise.

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty December 7, 2009

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing.

Since being dairy free, I don’t find that I indulge too much, as I never know what is in anything. This Christmas, I am making Christmas dinner and I am bringing food to the other Christmas dinner ( and I cannot expect my family to make special things for me when there are over 20 people attending) I figure I will have lots of leftovers, so why not!!

I like the “only go to events you really want too” this is huge, otherwise you can get way to bogged down!!

Great post, have fun baking today!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2009

I find the same thing….it was my first year as a vegan this past Halloween and it was the first time I didnt have any halloween candy. I didnt even crave it, it was so odd!

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Laura Georgina December 7, 2009

Can I “third” you and Jessica on this one? I went to a party this weekend where there were tons of dips and munchies, and I ate just two mini pitas with hummus–I didn’t want anything else. I was shocked, especially since tortilla chips were on display, but not even my old nemesis/crack looked that good to me(even after a few beers!). Me circa 2008 would’ve been parked by the table all night.

After that, I think I’ll be fine for the holidays–I just plan on loading up on fruits and fresh veggies, since whenever I eat mostly those I find I don’t crave rich stuff or empty starches. And I’ll be taking advantage of the cold weather for some brisk running :-)

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Tania @ Moment Anew December 7, 2009

Excellent tips! I usually fall into the “I’m going to be perfect from Jan 2nd on” and then keep changing the date LOL No need for that anymore–I just don’t need to be perfect anymore! I just try to make consistently healthy choices with the odd indulgence here and there :)

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EaterNotARunner December 7, 2009

Great list! I usually have trouble with all the family time and there are a lot of “food pushers” in my family!

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Kristie Lynn December 7, 2009

Nice tips (wow, I just imagined how awkward a typo could have made that)! I’ll be doing a lot of car-traveling this Christmas season (as in, over 48 hours of driving time), and I already am starting a stash of snacks to bring. Being a vegan makes me know I need to be more prepared because finding good snack options at gas stations and fast food places won’t be easy by any means!

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D December 7, 2009

Hi! I’ve only commented a couple of times before, but I adore your blog and not only do I read every day, but I often look through old posts and pages when I want to feel a little happier.

1. When at home over the summer (I’m at university), I started making Green Monsters for me and my mum, and she LOVES them. I told her I found the idea “on the internet” because I felt shy saying I read food/health blogs. Recently she e-mailed me and said “have you ever heard of this great blog…Oh She Glows?!” and I finally told her that’s where I got the inspiration from!

2. This is an odd question, but it relates to food and health and I don’t want to ask anyone in “real life” because I feel quite shy (story of my life, clearly). I was hoping that you, or other readers, could offer advice. I’ve always loved exercise and food, and read health magazines, taken gym classes, trained, etc. But in my first year of Uni, I got overwhelmed by the new lifestyle and let my habits go to the side. It wasn’t a big deal, because I was too busy enjoying life to worry about it, but over the past year and a half, I have gotten back into my healthy lifestyle. I run, go to the gym, cook healthy meals, have adopted a vegan diet, etc. I feel wonderful and happy. However, I met my boyfriend during my first year, and so his lack of healthy habits weren’t as obvious. We both liked to eat pizza, drink wine, etc. I was never overweight (5’5, 135 pounds) but lost about 25 pounds just because I remembered how much I loved to exercise and eat well! I feel great now, but it’s difficult because my boyfriend is still super unhealthy, and has gained a significant amount of weight. It’s difficult because he thinks I have suddenly changed, but my first year of uni was NOT the norm. I’m suddenly realising that I want him to have the same health priorities. He eats TERRIBLY, never exercises, and doesn’t “take care” of himself. I’ve tried EVERYTHING. Asking him to come jogging with me, helping him research gyms, cooking together, grocery shopping together, setting a goal (like, at the end of summer I really wanted to do a fun 5k run), encouraging him, etc. He talks about wanting to change his habits, but nothing happens. I feel like it’s a huge issue for me. I’m not sure what to do!

Sorry this was long! oops!

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Chloe (Naturally Frugal) December 7, 2009

That’s a tough one. I try and have my boyfriend try whatever I’m eating – just to taste it and if he doesn’t like it that’s fine. I even got him to try out a few Green Monsters. However, I understand that some people aren’t even open to trying new things.
I think all you can do is lead by example. You might want to sit him down and tell him that you care about him and want to lead a healhty life together and it would make you happy if he started to put some effort into exercising together, or cooking healthy meals.
The Fitnessista (Gina) had a great post about leading by example for her husband and how he will randomly try new things or pick up some of her healthy habits without her nagging him.
As long as you are healthy and happy he might realize that he wants to join too!

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Carrie December 7, 2009

Hey D!

That’s awesome that you found inspiration to change back to your healthy ways. I’ve been through the same thing as you dealing with unhealthy boyfriends. First off, make sure that you put yourself and your health first. Don’t let him get you off track. It doesn’t seem like you are letting this happen though! Next, have you had a talk with him? I think this is the best way to get your point across. I’ve talked to my boyfriend and let him know that being healthy is a HUGE part of my life. I told him that I want him to be healthy and I also can’t keep having tons of bad foods and alcohol around (because I have hardly any self-control). I emphasized that if we were going to continue dating and living with each other, he needed to learn how to respect this wish because it meant so much to me. Since I’ve had some of my “heart-to-heart” talks with him, he has GREATLY improved! He hardly ever brings bad foods into the apartment. He also has cleaned up his eating habits (still room for improvement, but he’s on his way :) ). He has even started asking me to help him pick out foods, etc that are healthy for him. Just let him know that he doesn’t have to be exactly like you, BUT he MUST respect your goals. Plus, just let him know how much you care about him and that you want him to be healthy so you can be together for a long, long time! :-D

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D December 7, 2009

Oh I wanted to clarify about the wine and pizza comment. I don’t think that’s bad at all! I still eat pizza and drink wine. It’s more along the lines of…I didn’t join a gym because I was in a new city and didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know safe placs to run, I didn’t cook, and I drank more than I had. Typical student stuff! So I ate a LOT of pizza, and drank a LOT of wine…but there was no healthy habits to counteract it!

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Shelly December 7, 2009

I definitely believe pizza can be part of a healthy lifestyle. (I like mine with spinach and goat cheese on top. :P)
As for your boyfriend, if you have made it clear that his lifestyle is a major issue for you, then stop repeating yourself. If you haven’t made it 100% clear, then state that clearly and firmly, Once. Don’t repeat yourself over and over again b/c it will be perceived as nagging and it will make your boyfriend less likely to want to change.
It sounds like you are doing a great job of leading by example. I would make a point of not working your fitness schedule around the time you spend together (i.e. if you are working out in the morning so you can see him at night, but would rather work out at night- work out at night, darn it!) but always invite him to spend fitness time with you. (You may want to scale your workout to something that’s not intimidating. If I asked my fiance to go on a 9 miler with me, he’d say no. Just like I’d refuse to go do deadlifts at the gym, haha. But we do like to go on a 3 or 4 mile run together or go to the gym at the same time.)
As far as food goes, are you asking him to adopt a vegan diet (or does he perceive that you eventually want him to become a vegan)? I think that he could be intimidated by the idea of really drastically changing his eating habits. Maybe you can introduce him to a few really tasty healthy foods that he can regularly incorporate into his diet (hummus, pita, and veggies as a weekday snack, perhaps?) and start from there. Baby steps. :)

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D December 7, 2009

Thank you so much to everyone for the great advice. It’s reassuring to know that other people have been in the same situation, and that change is possible!!!

I’m definitely not trying to convert him to a vegan diet or anything like that,as much as I would like to :) I know that preaching a vegetarian lifestyle can be really irritating if the person isnt ready for it, and I really don’t mind him eating meat. It’s more about not eating junk food, chinese buffets, excessive amounts of beer, etc, and then complaining about being overweight, yet still not doing anything about it. This isn’t just a little excess college weight either, as he’s medically overweight. He wants to live together down the line, so I will be taking all this advice and having a serious heart to heart. We’ve talked a little about it before, but he gets embarassed so I’ve never managed to get my point across. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I hope he’ll see that it’s not a criticism.

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Jenna December 7, 2009

This is all wonderful advise! Thanks for sharing :)

I like to stay on track with exercise. I used to deprive myself of the holiday food and drink, and I wasn’t truly LIVING.

I now like to have small portions of the food I love and combat the extra calories by pushing myself just a little bit harder at the gym. Does the trick for me.

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Lauren December 7, 2009

Thank you for the amazing tips. This is so incredibly helpful. Thank you!

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Lauren December 7, 2009

These are great tips!!! Every time I need a quick pick-me-up, I just run to your blog and you are so faithful to deliver the best advice, recipes, support and ideas.

Hope you have a great day Angela!! :)

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Sarah December 7, 2009

Great tips, Angela!

Are your pants in the first picture from Lululemon too?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2009

No they are from Le Senza I think! From many years ago…they have a fitness line.

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Jackie @ TriToLose December 7, 2009

Thanks for the tips! Exercise is definitely important. I love my gym because it has “guilt buster” workouts. Last year, we did 2 hours of spin on Christmas Eve. I loved it! I hope they do it again this year! :)

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Cynthia (It All Changes) December 7, 2009

Those are great tips.

For me it is a blessing and a curse that work is so busy this time of year. We don’t have time for holiday parties but we also don’t have a ton of time for rest and exercise. I try to sneak it in when possible and do more home workouts.

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Jordan @ Salt Sweat Sugar December 7, 2009

Is that Costco reversible wrapping paper? Hahha.

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melissa December 7, 2009

One of my favorite OSG posts ever, and I have been reading since pretty much day 1 :) I will keep all in mind!

Also you look so ridiculously gorgeous (and svelte) in all the photos!

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Julie @savvyeats December 7, 2009

Love the tips, Ange. Especially the “eating what you want, but eating it slower” one. It lets you savor the “treat” you are having so you enjoy it longer… and can then maybe trick your mind into thinking you ate more of it than you did!

And the water between each drink is what I do too!

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