Surrounded By Cookies? A Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Strategy Requires A BHAG

What’s Your Holiday Game Plan?

Thanksgiving is next week. If you haven’t had a chance to think about your game plan now that the season of eating has begun, it’s probably time to give it some thought.  We have a holiday strategy for everything else:  what gifts we’re going to buy for whom, who we’re sending cards to, what special dishes we want to prepare.  Why not spend at least some time strategizing how to get from Thanksgiving Eve to January 3 without gaining the average, and very dreaded, five to eight pounds?

What’s Your BHAG?

Set aside a few minutes now, before the holidays are in full swing, to figure out what your BHAG (your workplace needs) is.  Maybe your BHAG is to get through the holidays without your waistline expanding by two inches like it did last year.  That’s a good goal!  But big goals can easily become similar to New Year’s Resolutions if you don’t put a strategy in place to make sure you reach it.

The first step is to invest a couple of dollars in a colorful hardback journal that can be purchased at the local dollar store or CVS.  This journal will be your Holiday BHAG Book where you’ll write down your goals and track your progress (good or bad) each week.

On the first page write down your great big goal:  Example: My goal is to NOT increase my waist circumference by two inches this holiday season.  Now come up with three and four smaller strategy goals that you will do this week that will help you achieve your big goal.


Make sure that your strategy goals are SMART and that they are reasonably attainable.  Remember that success breeds success, so don’t set yourself up for failure.  If you typically go to the gym three times a week, setting a goal to go seven times isn’t a good idea.

The first SMART weekly goal will look something like this:  I will to go the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. and do a combination of cardio and strength training exercises for one hour.

SMART goals are specific and measurable.  At the end of the week it will be very clear whether goal completion was at 100%, 75%, 25% or 0%.  Write the goal completion percentage in the journal at the end of each week.

Come up with two or three more goals that will help you get to the great big one.  These goals are very individual. The following are only examples that may or may not apply to your situation but they will give you an idea of what a SMART weekly goal looks like:

  • I will bring my lunch to work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week.  The lunch will consist of healthy food items that I purchase at the grocery.  I will shop for the food to pack on Saturday afternoon and pack the lunch the night before so I don’t run out of time in the morning.  On Friday I will go out to lunch with my co-workers like I always do and I will use my Smartphone Fast Food Calorie Look Up app to help me make a healthier choice when eating out.
  • I will take two 10 minutes walking breaks everyday next week at work.
  • I will take 15 minutes to sit quietly in the chair by the picture window and listen to relaxation music before I go to bed on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings.
  • I will eat a light snack consisting of four whole wheat crackers, peanut butter, a half of banana and a glass of water before going to the holiday party on Saturday night so I won’t be so hungry that I overindulge when I get there.
  • On Sunday evening after dinner I will write in my journal how I did with my goals and write new goals for next week.

Each week, as the holidays creep up, the goals will no doubt change and become more specific to the challenges we’re facing.  Goals that address portion control on Thanksgiving Day, food court fare when we’re shopping at the mall, or alcohol consumption on New Year’s Eve might help keep us on target for achieving the BHAG.

In summary, the holiday survival plan of action is:

  • Purchase an inexpensive hardback journal at the dollar store.
  • Set a big hairy audacious healthy holiday goal and write it down.
  • Set three or four more weekly SMART goals that will help you achieve the Big Goal. Write them in the journal.
  • Track the completion rate of goal achievement each week.
  • Reset the goals weekly.

By the way, if you love, love, love Smartphone apps that track food, exercise, calories, etc. feel free to use them along with the journal.

Are There Too Many Cookies At Work?

Once the holidays begin there seems to be no end to the junk that people bring into the office to ‘share’. Put Down The Cookie! was the name of the Maintain, Don’t Gain holiday program I launched last year at my workplace.  When we kicked it off we had one of our wellness committee members dress up like the Cookie Monster and come to the all-staff meeting to confess to his co-workers that he has a cookie problem.   Another committee member offered him Kale along with a recipe for Kale Chips in an effort to help.

Put Down The Cookie participants received holiday makeover recipes, weekly motivational tips and articles, games and quizzes and received a prize if they didn’t gain weight over the holidays. I’ll be launching the program again next week.  A holiday maintain, don’t gain program might be just what your workplace needs this holiday season.  We all know Cookie Monster’s not the only one with a problem!

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