What to do if you gained weight over the holidays

The holidays have come and (mostly) gone and now is about the time we start researching the latest diet trends and pinning keto recipes, because we gained weight, we feel kinda cruddy and we know we need to make a change for our health, but we don't know where to start. So what do we do??

First, two don’ts:

1. Don’t panic. Our bodies are meant to ebb and flow. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t have the ability to gain and lose weight. A fluctuation of 5-15 pounds throughout the year is normal and expected and nothing to panic about. Though girlfriend, if you are, I feel you- I have been there. Stick around.

2. Don’t jump into a diet (it’s ok if you already have, I promise, I’m not judging- just here to give you some solid encouragement). We know diets don’t work- why are you going to waste your time torturing yourself for something we know doesn’t work long term (check out these stats if you’re curious)? I know why-- our culture tells us why, it tells us, it's the only way. Even if our intuition nudges us it's probably not.

And listen, friend. There is nothing wrong with the desire to lose weight. It’s the pursuit of weight loss as a means of boosting health that turns problematic. Losing weight doesn’t automatically equal health (despite what we are so often told).

Consider this: there are PLENTY of unhealthy ways to lose weight. There are also plenty of generally healthy people who gain weight (pregnancy aside), due to stress, eating disorder recovery, muscle, changes in eating habits. It doesn’t make you more or less healthy to lose or gain weight: health is found in our behaviors.

So, if you change your behaviors and you lose weight, cool! If you change your behaviors and your weight doesn’t budge, it doesn’t mean you’re not healthier.

It is a societal notion that losing weight equals health, not fact. Now, does losing weight improve quality of life for some? Totally. But it still comes down to behavior change (or that quality of life won't last).

It’s for this reason I strongly recommend just putting the scale aside, when you’re making changes. When we focus on numbers as our primary goal, we lose sight of the habits- the changes that actually matter.

When we focus on numbers as our primary goal, we lose sight of the habits- the changes that actually matter.

When/if we do lose the weight, we are left feeling like we have reached our goal… whether or not we created sustainable, health promoting habits.

If we haven’t created habits, we've just set ourselves up for disappointment- and we’re likely to end up back in the weight loss/regain cycle- which has proven to be more unhealthy than being overweight (and there is a higher likelihood of ending up weighing more than when you started. Really.)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s focus on what matters (hint, it’s not the numbers!).

It’s the HABITS we create, the BEHAVIORS we adopt that make us our healthiest selves.

It’s the HABITS we create, the BEHAVIORS we adopt that make us our healthiest selves.

1. DO: Respect your humanness.

Friend, we ALL overeat sometimes. There is: a) nothing wrong with you


b) no reason to feel guilt or shame over eating some extra delicious foods around the holidays

Weight gain doesn’t change a SINGLE thing about you, your worth or the value you provide the world. So shake it off, sister. It happens. There’s nothing to do now other than…

2. DO: Listen to your body.

Your body is a powerful machine with incredible knowledge. It will tell us what we need, as long as we choose to listen. Many of us go through life trying to control our bodies, ignoring the big flashing red lights that tell us STOP, THIS ISN’T WORKING (things like constant hunger, binge eating episodes, hormonal imbalances). The more we choose to turn out, the harder it will be to find a balance that works for us, and we will constantly be fighting against our body. Instead, lean in. What is your body telling you?

(p.s. This isn’t just an ‘I gained weight’ thing. This is an all-the-time thing).

Start by asking yourself:

When do you first get hungry in the morning? Are you feeding your body a satisfying meal and eating until you’re pleasantly full, so you arrive at your next meal calm and ready to make another choice that serves you? Or, are you white-knuckling it through the day, trying to eat as little as possible, ignoring your hunger and ending up angry, irritable and/or overeating at night?

Starting by tuning into hunger, and then fullness, and then satisfaction (what you actually want to eat/will make you feel satiated), and then on how foods actually make you feel (are you feeling sluggish every day at 3pm? Aside from sleep, are you eating breakfast? Are you eating lunch? Are you eating enough? Did your meals have protein to balance your blood sugar?

These questions can help you move from controlling to being in tune with your body. No one wants to feel out of control, tuning in keeps you in the driver’s seat, without over-controlling your food intake.

3. DO: Honor your body’s needs.

This starts with listening and RESPONDING to hunger and fullness, listening and responding to your body’s desire for movement (or rest). Remember, your body still has needs whether or not you’ve gained weight. It needs fuel. It needs movement. It needs rest. The better you respond to your body, the better it will respond back. Ignoring your body’s cues is a surefire way to have it yelling back at you, with major hunger, cravings, or fatigue. Honor your body’s needs and don’t let weight gain get in the way of taking care of your basic needs.

4. DO: Focus on habits that feel good.

What do you know feels good in your body? If you KNOW you feel good drinking a ton of water, start there. If you know hitting your favorite Barre class makes you feel energized to start the day, get it on the schedule. If you remember how good you felt when you whipped up smoothies in the morning to start your day instead of skipping breakfast, put the ingredients on your grocery list. Notice these habits are all about adding, not subtracting. As humans, it is our innate desire to rebel against anything that feels constricting. So focus on adding in the things that feel good, and you’ll start to notice what doesn’t fit falls away.

If you have no idea where to even start with creating habits that feel good, our 10 day Healthy Mama Habit Restart is a great place to start. We’re gathering together as a community to create habits that will carry us through the new year and beyond. Because ultimately, health is about the habits we create that propel us towards living our healthiest, happiest lives. Quick fixes never lead to long-term change, so whether or not you gained weight over the holidays, focusing on what feels good is what creates real transformation, inside out. Click the link to sign up (for free!) and join us to start the new year with something you won't quit come January 15th.

Quick fixes never lead to long-term change, so whether or not you gained weight over the holidays, focusing on what feels good is what creates real transformation, inside out.

Kristin Dovbniak


I'm Kris! Founder of Healthy Balanced Mama, I'm a holistic health coach, certified intuitive eating counselor, trained chef, and mama of two, and I'm here to guide busy moms like you in stressing less and finding freedom with food through balanced eating and simplified routines around meal planning, meal prep, grocery shopping and cooking with confidence.


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© 2020 Kristin Rugg Dovbniak for Healthy Balanced Mama