The Skinny

Seasonal Strategies: Staying on Track and Making New Traditions

Seasonal Strategies: Staying on Track and Making New Traditions

Dec 19, 2019 « Back to The Skinny

By: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Naturally Slim Instructor, Meridan Zerner


Candy canes, eggnog, iced cookies, homemade bread, over-the-top family recipes, and of course, the holiday parties and buffets…

So much of the holiday season seems to be tied to food and the holiday traditions that go along with it. And it’s not just one day. It’s weeks of food-centered festivities (what I like to call “festi-food”).

And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the holidays and the “festi-food” that goes with it, holiday treats at every turn can make it particularly challenging for anyone with a weight loss or maintenance goal to stay on track.

So, one of our gifts to you this holiday season is a few of our favorite tips for enjoying the holidays while staying on track. We’ve also made a list of possible traditions you can establish with friends and family that don’t involve food, including a few suggestions from folks on the Naturally Slim team.


Holiday tips

First up, our favorite tips to stay on track.

Define your goals

You CAN celebrate this season without unraveling your health. And that starts with having clear (and reasonable) goals. If you need a little help coming up with your goals—and are participating in NSTown®—feel free to ask one of your health coaches for some help in creating them! And if it helps you feel accountable, feel free to post your goals in NSTown, too

Use your Naturally Slim skills

Tap into all of your Naturally Slim skills, such as waiting to eat until you are genuinely hungry (at a level three), slowing down, and staying hydrated.

Also, the rule of three is great to use at parties and holiday dinners. Take a lap around and see all of your options. Then, pick the three things you want to eat the most, enjoy them, and stop eating when you’re comfortably full!

Don’t get down on yourself

We know, we know. When you feel like you got off track, this is much easier said than done. But ups and downs (peaks and valleys, as we like to call them) are a part of the journey.

So, if you ever feel like you ate a little bit (or a lot) more than you wanted, try and be kind with yourself. The goal of the holidays is to enjoy them with your friends and family. And it’s not going to sabotage your progress if you ate past being comfortably full a few times. Simply wait until you’re at a level three to eat your next meal and get right back on track using your skills. (You’ve got this!)


Holiday traditions

New traditions, like the options listed below, can bring your family (and friends!) together.

Indoor family fun

  • Do a few holiday crafts: Make your own wreath, ugly holiday sweater, or gifts
  • Play board or card games… maybe even hold an annual tournament!
  • Create a new family photo album
  • Draft a family bucket list of all the things you want to do and places you want to see
  • Go to a performance (There are a lot of plays, concerts, and movies to see this time of year!)
  • Try a mall scavenger hunt or one around the city
  • Visit the aquarium or a local museum
  • Watch a holiday movie


Outdoor family fun

  • Volunteer at a local charity (this can be an indoor activity too, depending on the charity!)
  • Go ice skating
  • Walk or run a themed 5k
  • Play flag football, corn hole, or frisbee
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood to see the holiday lights
  • Play in the snow (if there’s some where you’re at this time of year)


Here are some traditions a few folks on our team have established with their loved ones.

I'll start with mine!

Each year, we buy three ornaments—one for each child and one for the family tree that has something to do with an event, a trip, or something significant from the year. That way, we enjoy it on the tree, and the kids build their own starter collection of ornaments with significance/memories/stories when they head off on their own.

“Christmas Crackers! They’re really more of a British thing, but super fun. Some of them have food, but a lot have little prizes.”

—Cami Willis, Health Coach


“Our family tends to play Spoons after dinner. Not so classy, but super fun. We let the little kids start first, then weed them out!”

—Tan Ward, Director of Marketing 


“Growing up, the night after Thanksgiving, we would gather in the living room. We all received a personalized ornament from mom, and my dad read us a cowboy Christmas story called “Stubby Pringle.” (Result of growing up on a farm, I suppose.)”

—Robin Patton, Director of Clinical Outreach


“We make everyone give TED talks over the holidays (even the toddlers).”

—Trent Cockerham, Product Manager


“Every year, we watch Home Alone while decorating the tree.”

—Heather Whitaker, Senior Strategic Client Consultant


“My mom always puts out Christmas presents really early. So, to keep us from shaking boxes and guessing what we got, she gives each kid and grandkid a “secret” name. For example, one year, she used the character names from the TV show Friends. Then on Christmas morning, we’re each given a sheet of paper with all the “secret” names, and we try to guess which character belongs to which family member. Whoever gets the most right gets to open the first present.”


—Matt B., Data Analyst


“We all get together and play a card game called Hand and Foot. It is a long game, so get ready to be involved for a while! We play this in partners, so it is more involved and goes faster. This is a super inexpensive way to spend time with your friends and family, especially when it is too cold to do anything thing outside.”

—Meredith R., Health Coach


“On Christmas morning, we sit together and take turns going around the circle, opening one gift at a time. So, I would open a gift, then my sister, then my mom followed by dad.  Rinse and repeat. But this way, everyone gets to see what everyone else got and really enjoy the spirit of giving.”

—Jennifer Bailor, Program Success Manager


“We go look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve, or if we are out of town, we play games and do a pajama contest—the most festive pjs win. One year, my dad added lights to his!”

—Brielle Williams, Health Coach


“We get together and play a dice game.”

—Michael Tsai, Product Manager


“On Christmas Eve, we watch The Christmas Story every year after dinner & church before we go to bed.”

—Kendall Ramirez, Chief Experience Officer


“One person who has a special gift that is large and hard to wrap becomes the focus of a “Treasure Hunt.” This gifter prepares the first clue, which is written and placed in a wrapped box. The clue leads the treasure hunter (and everyone else) to the second clue. There are usually about 5 clues that take the group all over the house and outside too. Last year one of my sons received a Smoker. His gift was stored at a neighbor’s house. This way of gifting generates lots of energy for the whole group.”

—Nancy Emery, Health Coach


“On Christmas Eve, everyone takes the presents they bought, and we all split up in diff rooms to wrap!”

—Bri Dendy, Marketing Coordinator


“On January 1st (or on some years, the second), my family has dinner together. We each share our “word” for the new year and the kinds of things we’re going to do to embody it. My word for 2020 is ‘resilient.’ When life knocks me down, I’m going to get right back up and keep going. That’s what it’s all about, after all.”

—Emily Zoscak, Copywriter


“When my kids were young, on Christmas Eve, we always made sure to leave Santa milk and cookies and carrots for his reindeer.  We also always included a personal note to Santa expressing gratitude for stopping by our house because we knew he had plenty on his “to do” list.

Amazingly, each and every year, when we woke up on Christmas Day, right next to the empty milk glass and cookie crumbs, there would always be a personalized note from Santa.  He made sure to commend Lauren and Andrew for having made good choices and would encourage them to continue to work hard in school, mind mom and dad, and to intentionally look for ways to make life better for others.

That Santa…I like the way he thinks!”

—Todd Whitthorne, Chief Instructor & Chief Inspiration Officer

Happy holidays, everyone!