This Will Help You Stay on Track During the Holidays  

by JJ Virgin on November 21, 2023

Amidst the joy, celebration, and togetherness of the holidays, maintaining your health and fitness goals at this time can feel challenging. Busy schedules with social events, gift shopping, and work deadlines may make it hard to find time for workouts, and the cold weather makes lounging under a blanket with some hot chocolate more appealing than jogging outside. 

This year, ditch the New Year’s resolutions. Make now the time to commit to a healthier, happier you.  

The key to staying on track during the holidays is not about willpower and avoidance; it’s finding and focusing on your big why—the core reason behind your health ambitions. This fuels motivation and encourages you to make wise choices, making you more resilient against challenges, too. 

Your why helps you focus on what truly matters, stop wasting time and energy on things that don’t contribute to your ultimate purpose, and develop a better sense of self-worth and confidence. It keeps you energized and ready to tackle each day with zeal. 

How to Find Your Why 

The first thing you need to do is dig deep. Your why might be to lose weight, but what’s beneath that? Ask yourself why you want to lose weight, and why that reason is important, until you get to the root of the desire. Here’s an example: 

  • Goal: To lose weight. 
  • Why? To get healthy. 
  • Why do you want to get healthy? To be able to be present with my family and friends. 

Here’s another: 

  • Goal: To lose weight? 
  • Why? To fit into my clothes. 
  • Why do you want to fit in your clothes? Why not just get bigger clothes? To look better naked, to feel sexier, to feel more confident when presenting at work. Etc… 

Keep asking why these things are important to you, then you’ll uncover your true motivations, and once you’ve identified them, they can power you through to your goals. 

What to Do With Your Why 

After identifying your why, you want to develop and nurture it so it helps you stay the course during the temptation-loaded holidays. Having clear, measurable objectives makes staying focused easier so you’re not tempted to blow off your afternoon workout for that last-minute cocktail party.  

1. Write It Down 

When you write down your why, you clarify what you want to achieve in clear, specific terms while creating a sense of accountability. You're more likely to take your commitments seriously. While you can show your why to others, you might also decide to keep it private.  

2. Use the SMART Method 

Be as specific and detailed as possible when you define your why. Remember the SMART method to structure goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. Here’s how that might look: 

  • Specific: I want to lose 20 pounds of body weight by reducing body fat and building muscle. 
  • Measurable: I will track my progress by measuring my body-fat percentage using a body-composition scale. 
  • Achievable: I will aim to lose 1-2 pounds of fat every week. 
  • Relevant: Losing 20 pounds will help build confidence and boost my overall health. 
  • Timely: I will achieve this goal within the next 10 weeks.  

3. Visualize Your Future Self 

Close your eyes and picture yourself achieving your health and fitness goals. Imagine the positive impact it will have on your life. How will that future self feel?  

Visualization can motivate you to stay the course, whether it's fitting into a favorite outfit, having more energy for your loved ones, or simply feeling more confident. Listen to this lecture from Dr. Joe Dispenza, The Reinvention of Self: A Guide to Changing Your Reality from the Inside Out, to inspire you! 

4. Track Your Progress 

What you track and monitor, you can improve. Record milestones, note your successes, and identify areas needing adjustment. Tracking helps you stay true to your goals and make necessary changes when required. You can assess what's working and what's not, and make adjustments to your strategy as you go along. Without that information, you’re just winging it, and winging it takes you off the fast track to your goals! You can track via pen and paper, or you'll find lots of free apps to download (such as this one from HabitApp).

5. Find Inspiration in Others 

You are the composite of the five people you surround yourself with. Find people who inspire and motivate you. Hearing how others have found their why and succeeded can inspire you to do the same. I love how my pal DR. Mark Hyman talks about friend power being more powerful than willpower. “If you have people cheering you on, holding you accountable, and walking the walk with you, you’re much more likely to make positive changes,” he says.

6. Create a Vision Board  

Compile images, quotes, and reminders of your goals and values on a vision board. Place it somewhere visible, like your fridge or bathroom mirror, as a daily reminder of why you're committed to staying healthy.  

7. Stack Your Goals 

Try connecting small, actionable habits. One study found that people who made exercising a life goal were more likely to also make healthy eating decisions.1 When you cultivate one habit, you’re more likely to do another when you link them. I have a friend who does wall sits while she brushes her teeth. With time, you’ll associate these actions, which will more likely become habits.  

8. Set Boundaries 

Knowing your why allows you to set clear boundaries, because you will have people and situations that can derail you. Boundaries might include saying no to your colleague who insists you try her peppermint brownies or adding your workout to your calendar so that nothing interrupts you. 

9. Plan Ahead 

With your why clearly in mind (and in writing), strategize your upcoming holiday meals and gatherings. Will there be a gathering that has food that’s not on your plan? Offer to bring something healthy. If your office group is having an after-work social, suggest a healthy restaurant. Ask a coworker to take a walking meeting rather than sitting in a conference room. Keep emergency foods like my super-satisfying, you'll-swear-they're-dessert bars in your bag or purse. You can’t always plan the future, but seize the opportunity when you can.  

10. Get Support 

Sharing your why with friends and family can sustain encouragement and accountability. Friends and family are often your most significant support system because they care about your success and want to see you achieve your goals. By sharing your why, you create accountability, help them understand your perspective better, and they can help you celebrate victories. 

The Key to Sustaining Your Why 

Your why can and should evolve. Your initial why might be to feel confident in your skinny jeans or to have more energy for your family. Over time, that goal might evolve to maintain a healthy weight and build more muscle. Regularly revisiting and refining your why helps adjust your goals, prevent stagnation, and keep your motivation alive.  

What happens when you lose that momentum? Maybe you eat by the plate consistently, and then a particularly stressful day made margaritas with your girlfriends irresistible. The tortilla chips and queso disappear—and you know the inevitable conclusion.  

Setbacks happen to everyone. Rather than feeling defeated or discouraged, get back on track immediately. Revisit the initial reasons behind your why. What inspired you to embark on this journey in the first place? Reconnecting with your purpose can reignite your passion and motivation.

Understanding how dopamine works can help you here.  Your brain releases this motivation-and-reward neurotransmitter when you experience pleasurable moments, such as savoring a nutritious meal. Each little win triggers dopamine release, fortifying favorable behaviors and reinforcing the actions leading to the reward.  

Interestingly, research shows that dopamine is most active when anticipating a reward rather than the reward itself.2 Anticipation fuels motivation as you mentally picture the rewarding result. That's why a vision board and imagining your future self are so important, and they’re both things you can redo as you revise your why along the way. 

Don’t forget to celebrate your wins and learn from your setbacks. Over time, as you consistently engage in health-promoting activities, your brain will strengthen the neural pathways associated with these habits, making them second nature and easier to maintain. 

Other Tools for Staying on Track 

Staying on track with healthy eating during the holidays can be challenging, but with mindful planning and a few strategies, you can enjoy the festivities while still maintaining a balanced diet. Use your why as the steadfast anchor that keeps you rooted in your pursuit of a healthier and happier you.  

At the same time, employ practical strategies to help you stay on course. Take a protein-first eating approach to your meals, aiming for 30-50 grams of protein at every meal. Your first and last meals (bumper meals) are especially critical to getting protein for stabilizing blood-sugar levels, maintaining muscle, and managing hunger and cravings.  

Before attending holiday gatherings or parties, have a rough idea of what you'll eat. Find out what dishes will be served if possible and plan accordingly. Knowing your options ahead of time will help you make more informed and healthier choices. 

Cravings can take down even the best-intended person, so be prepared with my cravings-crushing Lemon-Aid. Often, we mistake thirst for hunger, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, too.  

Be prepared on the big party days. Nothing ever starts on time, and those appetizer platters become all too tempting when you’re hungry. A loaded smoothie before the big event can curb your appetite and keep you focused on your company. 

If you imbibe, have two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage. Stick with wine and avoid sugary cocktails. (I always serve Dry Farm Wines at events.) Eat slowly and savor each bite, enjoying the flavors and textures of the food. Being mindful of your eating can help you avoid overeating and feel more satisfied with smaller portions.  

Bringing your own dish can help, too. My recipes page offers tons of yummy crowd-pleasers, including these Avocado Fudge Brownies

Maintaining a Healthy Metabolism Through the Holidays and Beyond 

Whenever treats or disrupted routines distract you, your why helps you stay motivated and make mindful choices that align with your long-term health goals. Keep your why nearby and refer to it as often as you need. 

By continuously revisiting your commitment, you'll find the motivation and determination to stay on track. When everyone else is scrambling to undo the holiday damage with unsustainable resolutions, you’ll feel confident knowing that you stayed the course… and your why will be that anchor.  

My Metabolism Rescue Program is the ultimate way to take control of your metabolic goals and reach your big why during the holidays. This cutting-edge program features a comprehensive guide, an exclusive one-hour masterclass, and a hand-selected bundle of metabolism-supporting supplements (All-In-One Shake, Metabolic Reset™, and Collagen Peptides Powder).*  


  1. Turner-McGrievy GM, Wright JA, Migneault JP, Quintiliani L, Friedman RH. The interaction between dietary and life goals: using goal systems theory to explore healthy diet and life goals. Health Psychol Behav Med. 2014 Jan 1;2(1):759-769. doi: 10.1080/21642850.2014.927737. Epub 2014 Jul 15. PMID: 25750817; PMCID: PMC4346080. 
  1. Schultz W. Dopamine reward prediction error coding. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2016 Mar;18(1):23-32. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2016.18.1/wschultz. PMID: 27069377; PMCID: PMC4826767. 

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.