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Healthy Holiday Challenge

Healthy Holiday Challenge

Nov 6 - Dec 17; 6-week online challenge

The average adult gains 1-3 pounds over the holiday season and keeps it on! Give yourself the gift of healthier habits this year with the Healthy Holiday Challenge.

This 6-week program begins in early November and ends just before the holiday break in December to support you with small, healthy steps you build on each week and can keep going through the new year. 

This challenge includes:

  • Kickoff at the Tang Center

  • Healthy Holiday Challenge Starter Kit

  • Weekly newsletters with resources, recipes, and weekly challenges

  • Free 6-week membership to Recreational Sports (UCB employees, non-members only)

  • Grand prize: Mountain bike donated by Kaiser Permanente

  • And more!

Registration is now closed.


Registration is now closed.
  • A confirmation email will be sent out to all participants, but not immediately after submitting registration.

How the program works


Each Monday morning, you will receive a newsletter through email to help you stay on track. The Healthy Holiday Challenge newsletter will include a weekly challenge with supporting tools and tips.

It's up to you how you would like to participate to get the support and motivation you need from the program. You can do any of the following:

  1. Read the newsletters for motivation and reminders.
  2. Report your participation each week (to be eligible for the weekly prize drawing).
  3. Track your progress on your Personal Success Tracker and keep it with you to help you stay on track.
  4. Share tips you have found to be successful with fellow participants. Tips will posted online.
  5. Post on social media a photo of you working on your challenge or share a tip with #bewellatwork to receive an extra entry into the special Healthier Together prize drawing. Your profile must be public for the post to be found. Max extra entry: 1 per week. If you don't have a facebook, instagram, or twitter, feel free to send your photos or tips to kguess@berkeley.edu
Healthy Holiday Challenge Starter Kit 
All participants receive a Healthy Holiday Challenge Starter Kit. The kit includes:
  • "Please Don't Tempt Me" Table Tent to place in a visible place in your workspace to politely let co-workers know that you are working hard to not over indulge in holiday sweets and goodies.
  • Sunscreen pen, provided by HealthNet
  • Pen, provided by Anthem
  • Provided by Kaiser Permanente:
    • Lunch bag
    • Cardio wheel
    • Sticky notes
  • Healthy Holiday Challenge Pledge - Choose your favorite design, print and post in a visible spot to remind you of your commitment

  • Personal Success Tracker - track your participation in the weekly challenges and record your weight . Tracking habits is a proven method to support success. Choose from the printable PDF or the word document to save on your computer.

Starter Kits can be picked up at the Kickoff. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to mail the starter kits. If you cannot make it to the kickoff, you can drop by the Tang Education Center at any of these times:
  • Tue, 11/7, 12-2pm
  • Wed, 11/8, 12-2pm
  • Tue, 11/14, 9-11am
Rec Sports is partnering with the Healthy Holiday Challenge to offer BodPod - the most efficient and accurate information on fat and lean mass, resting metabolic rate (RMR) and total energy expenditure (TEE) - services to UC Berkeley staff at the discounted rate of $40 (originally $80), with Cal ID.
Sessions will held October 30 through November 9 at the Wellness Center located in the RSF. Sessions will be 30-minutes and available within the following time periods, Monday-Friday:
  • 7 a.m - 11 a.m.
  • 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
  • 5 p.m - 8 p.m.
A complimentary drop-in group class will also be offered to review your results. 
6-week Rec Sports Membership
Challenge participants can take advantage of a free 6-week membership at Rec Sports (UCB employees and non-RSF members only). 

You must complete the RSF waiver (in confirmation email) and bring your staff ID to start your membership. Turn in your waiver at customer service.

Register for the Healthy Holiday Challenge by 9am on Nov 3 to take full advantage of the membership, which begins Mon, Nov 6. Those who register late (after 9am on Nov 3 - Nov 9) will not be able to start their membership until Mon, Nov 13. 

Weekly challenge:

  • There will be a new simple challenge each week. If you're ready to make the challenge more difficult, increase the duration or frequency. 


Monday, 11/6 | 12:10-1pm | Tang Education Center
Get excited to start the Healthy Holiday Challenge with fellow participants to learn more about the challenge, participate in fun activities, find others with similar goals, and win prizes!

There will be giveaways for all attendees, along with raffle prizes for attendance. You can also pick up your starter kit, which includes a table tent, cardio wheel, sticky notes, and a lunch bag! You will also have the opportunity to meet other participants that work near you, potentially finding a buddy for weekly check ins, walking, sharing healthy meals or recipes, or exercise!

Bring your own lunch. A scale will be available for anyone that would like to check their weight.

How to win prizes

Weekly Prize Drawing. To be eligible for the weekly prize drawing, you need to report your participation each week by the deadline. Weekly prizes to be announced.
Options for reporting your participation include:

  • Online. A link will be provided to you each week in the newsletter. This short form takes less than a minute to complete.
  • Email Kim Guess at kguess@berkeley.edu. Put "HHC Participation" in the subject line and say what you did this week.

*Deadline for reporting participation is Tuesdays at 9am unless otherwise noted in the newsletter. For example, for Week 1, which runs Nov 6-10, the deadline for reporting Week 1's participation is Tues, Nov 14 at 9am.

Winners will be announced Wednesday mornings.

Healthier Together Prize
Earn a raffle entry for a special Cooking Kit grand prize by posting a social media photo of you working on your challenge or share a tip with #bewellatwork. If you don't have a facebook, instagram, or twitter, feel free to email your photos or tips to kguess@berkeley.edu
The deadline is also Tuesdays at 9am. The winner will be announced at the end of the challenge.
Note: Limit 1 entry per week. Profiles must be public for the post with the #hashtag to be found.

How to win the grand prize of a MOUNTAIN BIKE!

The grand prize is a Mountain Bike donated by Kaiser Permanente. To be eligible for the Grand Prize drawing, you must do both of the following:
  • Complete the program
    Submit the final program reporting form. A link to the form will be provided in the newsletter. You need to report that you participated in the program for the 6 weeks.

  • Complete the program evaluation
    Submit the online program evaluation. We will ask for your name but it will not be associated with your answers.

You will be sent several email reminders with the links to the program completion and evaluation forms prior to the deadline. 

Tips from 2016 participants

Week 6

Eating Well

  • While at work, have a glass of water every hour on the hour
  • I mixed up the type of water I had before meals- sparkling water, water with lemon, or just h2o
  • I intentionally set the table without a glass for me so I would reminder to drink a glass of water before the meal. –Dana Bache
  • Throw a full water bottle in the fridge each night (if you like cold water, but not iced) so you can drink away right in the morning on the go!
  • Add fruit such as watermelon chunks, or orange slices or even mint to your water. You can let it sit for a few hours in your fridge for an even better taste.
  • Was more mindful of how much sugar I eat, and how much of the foods in my shopping cart had high amounts of sugar. –Gabrielle Turner
  • Bought a cute new water bottle. –Jane Tanamachi
  • I also try to have benchmarks. For example, I have to drink one water bottle by noon and one by 3 pm.
  • I started using a water bottle which marked the ml on the side and set a goal of how much ml I would drink a day. It's an easy way to challenge yourself!
  • The best part of being back at work is a regular schedule, so that I know I'm eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, that they are spaced, and I'm not by my fridge so I can't eat anything I don't bring into work with me. –Kim McPhee
  • Every time I walked into the kitchen, I drank a cup of water, which quenched my hunger as well as thirst. –Carolyn Capps

Physical Activity

  • Once I make my mind up, I have to keep pushing, and keep my focus. otherwise I will hit and miss and will not get the full benefit of the workout. –Vanessa Robbins
  • I am using the Couch to 5K app to help me start running again, plus it uses interval training. – Carol Spencer
  • The buddy system really works. When I didn't feel like battling the weather to head to RSF, my office mate was there to encourage me and vice versa. Also, my FitBit buddies on campus keep me motivated with weekly challenges! –Dominique Campos
  • Stay active and more connected by walking over to talk with colleagues rather than sending an email! –Ben Warner
  • I left my running shoes out at the end of the bed, right where I could see them. It was a visual trigger to grab them first in the morning!
  • Don't give up!  If you don't complete your goal today, tomorrow is a new day. –Emily Martinez
  • I walked to work with my partner instead of drive or take BART and along the way we talked about the things we were happy for or excited about.


  • It felt cheesy but I bought a "gratitude" journal that was on clearance. I've also made sure to stay up to date in recording notes for my little one in our baby journal for her. These steps are helping me stay present and positive. I've also joined a grassroots neighborhood coalition looking for ways to positively combat hate crimes and incidents. The local empowerment and connections are amazing. –Joanna Snyder
  • Yoga and mindfulness have been key in maintaining balance! –Jillian Parlee
  • During the holidays, the increased amount of family time can sometimes be stressful. From making plans collectively to caring for younger children, all of these family experiences can be emotionally taxing. The practice of gratitude helped me find a balance between caring for myself and being thankful for my family (and all their quirks). This challenge also helped me be more present  and aware of all that we do to care for one another.
  • Visiting and working in communities that are disadvantaged kept me humble and put things in perspective over the holidays. When we are reminded of the privileges we do have, it makes mindfulness visceral and keeps gratitude at the forefront.
  • Remembering that I sleep better if I'm more physically active.
  • I kept the MDG email in my box to remind me of 3 challenges and picked one for the amount of time I had at each interval during the day. Going up and down extra stairs to fill my water bottle kept me moving.
  • Having a "thanks" life. I kept a family "thankful" journal for years, in which every night, I record three to five things each of us is grateful for. This time, I decided to live a "thanks" life by focusing on being thankful for all things and not focusing on insignificant things. –Magdalene Kin’ori-Brewer

Week 5

Eating Well

  • Instead of filling my plate with holiday food, I took smaller portions with the understanding that if I was hungry later, I would always have a second serving at that time. It worked in my not needing second servings and undereating during family dinners.
  • Making sure to buy extra fruit while at the supermarket. It was very helpful to have it out on the counter
  • I was visiting family in Hawaii so I took advantage of the abundance of new (tropical) fruits and had them for dessert instead of other desserts.
  • Having fruit cut or peeled the night before makes it easier to eat for lunch the next day.

Physical Activity

  • Spend active time with family - suggest activities (walk to the nearest brunch place, park further from shopping malls) to make the holidays more meaningful =)
  • Installed the StepUp app on my phone for reminders to keep moving. –Mildred Calingo
  • Started working out and to help me I printed off a 30-day challenge calendar that I could easily hang up and cross out the completed days
  • I put on Michael Jackson (Pandora) and danced with my kids and went for walks in the neighborhood
  • I started to do long stretches. Going out and talking walks. Enjoying the peace of not being back at work. –Kim McPhee
  • Since I love walking outdoors, we went to Muir woods for a hike on Christmas day. Including exercise into the fun of a celebration is the best! -Cheryl Kalberer
  • My oldest is home from College and works out everyday.. so he made me get up and go with him everyday.. That was the extra motivation I needed. He told me "Mom, you think I like to workout everyday, I do it because I have too, no one is going to do it for me!"
  • Choose to walk vs. getting a ride as much as possible, even on vacation in the snow at 9750 feet above sea level!
  • Took some of my time off to get outside and go skiing!
  • Yoga is great for both physical activity and mindfulness. Definitely keeps the stress down during this busy season.
  • I planned to do an easy home cardio/abs circuit because I know it's easy to make excuses when I'm at my parent's house for the holiday. I'm only home for a handful of days, so it's easy to say I don't have a gym membership or equipment. My cardio/abs circuit: 10 flights of stairs (up and down), high knees, jump ropes, high jumps, side planks, bicycles, inch worms, and mountain climbers.
  • It's as simple as walking. Invite a friend or family member for a stroll and just get out there for 20 minutes.
  • I'm using a couch to 5k app to start running again.
  • My car needed to be serviced, and I didn't get a rental.  I walked everywhere!
  • Scheduling in hiking on vacation with friends
  • I brought my hard core yoga DVDs on Christmas trip and did yoga and a hike each day. –Laurie Ferris


  • I have an app on my phone that reminds me when it is getting close to my "ideal" bedtime. I also have the phone light set to night mode in the evening so I don't get too much blue light when I view it in the evenings.
  • Taking a warm bath and then listening to audio bedtime stories help me to relax and have a peaceful sleep.
  • I tried to turn off electronics before 10 pm to settle down and get to sleep earlier than usual during vacation break, preparing for Jan 3 return to work.
  • I would recommend to spend 1-2 min of gratitude: when a person wakes up and when goes to bed. It such a powerful mind exercise.
  • I tried to do the sleep mindfulness challenge in the earlier weeks by staying off my phone/electronics an hour before bed, but was unsuccessful at first. From that challenge I noticed that my partner and I really influence each other's sleep behavior, so I started picking up a book before bed and my partner followed suit. I think this more natural approach of doing something we both enjoy before bed really helped me get to bed earlier.
  • Every morning as I woke, I tried counting at least 10 things I was grateful for to get my mind and heart aligned for the day. –Lauren Moloney-Egnatios
  • I planned out my holiday prep so I wasn't pulling all nighters the last two days before Christmas.

Week 4

Eating Tips

  • I rarely have time to myself during the workday.  So, I scheduled time for lunch on my bCal and left my building to ensure I had some me-time and ate something healthy. –Dana Bache
  • I decided to not only track my food, but to be mindful of my nutrients. I noticed in previous weeks my carbs were high. I made a strong effort to keep carbs low but entering the food into My Fitness Pal and seeing how many carbs it contained. I cut my carbs from nearly 200 to under 80. –Patty Maciel
  • I eat out of many plates - so instead of trying to have half for produce, I've come to memorize some simple measuring tips to aim to eat 5 servings a day.


Physical Activity Tips

  • This week I stablished a support sytem. Each day I asked a different colleague to walk with me around the campus or used stairs of our office building up to the 5th floor repeatedly during lunch break. –Magdalene King’ori-Brewer
  • Setting aside time to hike instead of shop. Pausing to enjoy scenery and view on hike and be thankful for the positive things in my life.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator when filling up my water bottle from the 2nd floor to the basement water station.-Millie Calingo
  • Anytime I told myself "I don't feel like working out today" I challenged myself to at least do twenty minutes.  Usually that twenty minutes turned into 60....
  • Reminding myself that taking a walk was easy and something I could do any time made it feel more achievable.
  • At work, I use the restroom on the floor above mine and take the stairs! Adds a good 15 minutes of walking to my day. –Carolyn Irving
  • I made sure to get 10,000 steps in every day! This meant a lot of walking around the office when it was raining!-Kim McPhee
  • I added my workout time to my schedule.  This keeps me on track. –Betty Atanasu
  • On extra busy days, I walked quickly between meetings on campus to build in some extra physical activity.
  • made room so that I could workout at home on the days the temperature got really cold. I was able to still do a challenging workout that was easy on my joints, but I felt the effects the next day!


Mindfulness Tips

  • Remembering to laugh when things get overwhelming.
  • I de-cluttered my office space to create a more calm and focused environment for myself and those that enter the office space. It can be easy to push aside daily "tasks" during the semester, and in the teaching setting it seems like the natural flow of the campus actually slows down. Now I have a chance to collect my thoughts and reassess my goals.
  • I made a point to set a bed time and stick to it. I also added 30 minutes of walking each day. Ensuring that I didn’t miss either challenge has really helped me feel more energized throughout my days. –Jene Madison
  • Getting to bed early by making a list of things that I can take care of the next day
  • Putting my phone away before bed and concentrating on breathing and relaxing
  • Sat and mediated for 1/2 hour when getting home. –Katherine Wang

Week 3

Eating Tips 

  • Switched to smaller "dinner" plates this week. If you don't have smaller dinner plates, switch to salad plates or buy yourself new, pretty "appropriate portion" plates as a holiday present. You deserve it! -Lupe Gomez-Downing 
  • Something that helped me was writing down what I ate throughout the day in the "stick with it" stickies. I would look at it at night and see how I could improve my eating the next day.
  • Did more tracking of meals. Also posted the 'post-it' notes from MDG in the kitchen cabinets as a reminder to stay on course. -Loraine Binion
  • Having a meal with friends, I spent more time socializing and ate less than I would if eating alone. -Renee Russell 
  • Drinking a glass of water before meals and having a full glass of water set with every meal.
  • At a family dinner, I filled my plate with all the healthy choices (veggies, lean meats). I then avoided the desserts by not sitting near them.
  • My husband made a pizza. Before eating it, I portioned it out into individual containers--kept out what I'd eat at the moment and put the rest in the fridge. It was a disincentive to go back for more.
  • Portioning meals, I put more vegetables on my plate first, or just smaller portioned meals all week. 
  • I downloaded my fitness app and tracked everything that I ate in efforts to be more mindful about how much I'm eating.
  • Have healthy snacks in your car. - Shifra Gaman
  • Made cookies this weekend and didnt eat them, gave them out as gifts

Physical Activity

  • Along with doing the 20/8/2 Move More challenge, I found it helpful to commit to standing when I first arrive to the office and at the end of the day. Standing in the morning feels great, especially after a long commute.
  • After having a dinner, instead of lying down on the sofa with my computer, I take a walk 3-4 blocks around the house. It gives me an opportunity to get fresh air before bedtime and clear my mind. 
  • Treat exercise like an appointment. -Tiffany Camero 
  • I stuck to a schedule so that I could get up early for morning workouts. I have less excuses in the morning preventing me from working out. 
  • I use the Stretch Break app which pops up on my monitor to let me know when to get up and move. The app has short exercises and tips on health. I have it set to alert me every 30 min. - Kathleen Arata 
  • Try slacklining! It's great for your balance, mindfulness, and core strength.
  • I signed up for a race in the new year, which means I need to start training. I joined a pilates class and created a workout plan to help me train and reach goal. -Patty Maciel
  • I started paying close attention to my step count, using the step counter on my phone. I also set up a workweek challenge with a group of friends to see who gets the highest step count.
  • Don't let the big things get you down. Just keep moving.
  • Dancing to the video posted and other videos I found
  • I downloaded apps that send you reminders about working out. They have short 7 minute workouts that can be down in your office or at home. I found it to be helpful, especially on days that I wanted to skip working out. - Martha Velasquez


  • Before each meal or snack I ask myself "How do I want to feel after I will have eaten this?" This helps me make the right choices and also helps me enjoy little treats more. 
  • Blocked off time in my calendar so I could dedicate time to one specific task vs multi-tasking. -Dana Bache 
  • During the first 30 minutes of my lunch hour, I put my cell phone on "do not disturb" and I eat my lunch away from my desk. No reading or other distractions. I just eat my lunch. 
  • Break down larger tasks into more manageable 20-30 minute segments and then be sure to calendar time to complete each. Doing so helps you stay focused on one task at a time because you have a time and space allocated for it.
  • I included my husband and children to make the challenge a ‘family affair’ thus making it easier to stick with since I wasn’t alone. We all served as each other’s support system. -Jene Madison
  • I downloaded an app called Breathe, which I have been using sometimes to help me meditate before bed. It definitely has helped de-stress.
  • I got very sick on Thursday, so I gave my body time to rest and recover. I also tried to be mindful of being tired rather than being "hungry"
  • It is easy to lose track of time with emails coming in and the phone ringing constantly. I ended up setting a timer for every 20 minutes to take a break and stretch.
  • Mindfulness Training at the Tang Center was a great experience. I recommend taking the class with Neesha Patel in the Spring. - Betty Atanasu

Week 2

Eating Tips

  • I focused on avoiding sweets this week by using the "Count Me Out" sign on my desk.  It worked as a reminder to me and my co-workers. – Betty Atanasu
  • Used the Hunger Scale to help me decide if I was eating because I was hungry vs. being bored.
  • On days I buy lunch, I try to pick somewhere at least a 15 minute walk away
  • When shopping, I made sure to eat before I went, and to focus on only buying items with protein and less sugar. I then re-reviewed my shopping cart to acknowledge how much of what I selected was high in sugar or salt, and removed various items accordingly. –Gabrielle Turner
  • You can try sizing down on the container you use for packing lunch as well.
  • I made a point to drink more water, both in between meals and at mealtime. Not only did this help curb my appetite, but kept me hydrated!
  • Planning my meals in advance, and packaging them up so it was easy helped make it possible to complete the challenge
  • Positive self talk - when a craving popped up, asked what I was really craving.  Talked to myself about my goals.  THEN and only THEN did I decide if I was going to eat that thing.
  • Organic or home-grown produce has a much better taste than store-bought. –Eric Fong
  • Cook a big healthy meal at the start of the week and then portion it out into lunches for the week ahead.  It's easier to resist temptation when you spent all that time making something delicious & healthy! –Ben Warner
  • I coursed out what I would be eating this week and developed a meal plan. When I went shopping, I knew exactly what I needed and didn't buy food that would be considered "junk". –Martha Velasquez
  • I bought my veggies and fruit in bulk and cut them up early the week. Then I just grabbed a portion to bring to work every day
  • Seasonal fruit such as mandarins, pomegranates and kiwi make it easy to eat my colors!
  • I love fall colors in my meals, there was lots of orange sweet potatoes and dark green kale in my meals this week!
  • I ate raw veggies (green pepper, cucumber, celery) as I got my breakfast and lunch organized!  They are sweet and juicy first thing in the morning.
  • I bought bags of frozen veggies. No cleaning or prepping--just steam or pop in the microwave.
  • I found Red Cabbage to be a really easy item to include in my diet for some added color. Chop it up in salads, use it as a tortilla for tacos or burritos, mix it with sesame oil and top fried rice or use it as a bun for a burger.

Physical Activity Tips

  • Since I walk the dogs daily to the park for playtime I've started taking a longer route to the park instead of the shortcut. –Danette Johnson
  • I went on walks at least once a day. Sometimes I walked to meetings instead of calling in. – Kim McPhee
  • Wearing the accusplit pedometer from last year. –Avi Rosenzweig
  • Aside from standing when on the phone, asl walked down to RSF to sign up for Spin Class to hold myself accountable for attending. –Dana Bache
  • Made sure I had different layers of workout clothes so I could exercise outside at lunch no matter what the weather
  • If you haven't tried, try some exercise options close to home - I just started trials to get acquainted with mine and it's going great so far! Since it is also close to home, it is easier to make time than if it were further away (darker and colder at night, so less motivated).
  • Joined a gym near my home! Instead of going home and vegging in front of the t.v, I try to get a workout in after work at least 3x/week. –Lauren Moloney-Egnatios
  • Do Be Well at Work's Stretch n Flex routine in the AM to give you energy throughout the day
  • Determination -  One day, it was raining and I was so determined to walk that I found a stair case in my office building and walked to 5th floor about 8 times. –Magdalene King’ori-Brewer
  • I made the decision to walk across campus and back multiple times during the week at a fast pace. –Heather Levien
  • Scheduled the week's activities on Monday to make sure I reach my activity goals. –Kris Tohrnton
  • I got my old bike trainer out of storage and set it up in front of the TV. Now I burn calories while catching up on my shows!
  • I had my daughters party at an indoor jumping facility and I would normal not participate but I did and I had fun
  • I focused on how good I feel after exercising. –Sarah Baughn
  • Take a long a partner or listen to motivating music while walking.

Mindfulness Tips

  • I set an alarm for 50-55 minutes to keep my focus on the task at hand, allowing myself a 5 minute break before starting a new task. No checking phone, emails, etc, until break time
  • I started a habits journal
  • In my walk from my apartment to work, I put my phone away and set a good intention for the day.  –Ashley Villanueva
  • Bringing my kids in to the challenge. We are often so connected to electronic devices that i wanted to have them be a part of this experience. Also sharing with them the colorful plate eating practices. –Jene Madison
  • I tried (difficult challenge) placing my phone in a different room and on silent an hour before bedtime.
  • I set alarms on my phone reminding me to unplug at 9pm. At 9pm I turned it to airplane mode and decided to do stretching and yoga for an hour before bed. By 10pm, I'd go to be calmer and without my mind racing. It was/is a nice change of pace. –Patty Maciel
  • I set an alarm at night to tell me when it's time to get off my phone and get ready for bed.
  • Work backwards from a set bedtime
  • Using my phone's "bedtime" app to remind me to get ready for bed and stop looking at my phone! I used technology to remind me to cut back on technology.
  • Deep breathing before a meal, to help me stay present during my eating choices.

Week 1

Eating Tips

  • Plan ahead what you are going to eat during the week. Look at recipe books, compose a grocery list and make food shopping and cooking experience as a fun event.
  • I started using my healthy eating plate that properly portions out eat food group. I got thus plate from Kaiser and it's similar to what you see on the choosemyplate.gov. Helped me from over eating!
  • I ate much more slowly by talking more. Since I am talking to others, I do not want to have my mouth full, so I ended up eating less.
  • Drastically cut back on drinking soda with each meal.
  • It helped me to set mini goals for the day that helped me increase will power. For example, over the Thanksgiving break my nephews and family were in town and there was an abundance of unhealthy snacks around the home. I decided I wouldn't have any chips, and instead practiced some positive self-talk. This mini goal helped me stay on track throughout the day and it helped me decline chips on other days. Slowly, I think this is helping me regain confidence in my ability to make healthy and mindful choices.
  • Committing to wait 15 min at least before attempting to get seconds (I never needed seconds!) –Meckell Milburn
  • Write your shopping list on the Stick With It: Maintain Don't Gain post-it pad to keep discipline during grocery shopping.
  • I posted the Don't Tempt me flyer in the break room. –Shifra Gaman
  • In addition to my regular walking/hiking schedule, I incorporated at least one 20 minute Jillian Michaels strength training video into my routine to burn some extra calories over the holidays.
  • I have been using a food diary app and have tracked every bite I've taken during the week. It helps to know exactly how many calories are in everything I eat, and encourages me to make good eating choices. The app also shows how exercise allows you to consume a corresponding number of additional calories (so if you want that cookie, simply walk for an additional 30 minutes!)
  • On Thanksgiving, I ate a small, protein-packed snack before arriving at my family's home so that I wasn't tempted to snack on appetizers! – Zosha Kandel
  • Before and after eating a meal, it was helpful to drink a glass of water. Before eating, it helped to temper my hunger, and after eating it helped me to feel full.
  • Being mindful of how much food is on my plate, and stopping to take sips of water between bites/talk to family, friends.
  • Made the effort to look for healthy recipes (protein and veggies) esp. for Thanksgiving
  • I tried to focus on chewing as much as I can to help me realize when I should stop eating.

Physical Activity Tips

  • volunteered to help clean at an animal rescue farm
  • To get a little more exercise, park further across campus and walk to your department
  • I brought my workout clothes with me and worked out at lunch. –Jocelyn Dorsey
  • Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. – Jessica Chin
  • Walking a flight of stairs up or down to use the restroom to obtain extra steps. – Shannon Harrison
  • A little everyday adds up to a lot. This makes it easier to accomplish. I mixed things up by adding in activities that are fun and don't feel like exercise, such as tennis. – Cheryl Kalberer
  • If there was not a dedicated hour to activity, I combined something like a reading assignment with pedaling my stationary bike
  • Spend the holidays with folks who like to move around (go out and explore things!)
  • I started the Ultimate Yogi 108 day challenge. – Laurie Ferris
  • I took my daughter to a playground in the hills instead of in the neighborhood. That way I could get a little hiking done while going about my day.
  • I installed a new fitness app on my smartphone to invigorate my exercise routine. I realized I was procrastinating due to boredom with my usual. The app is like a new "toy" that got me engaged. – Patricia Ramsay
  • Using a fitness tracker is worth the money! I knew last week was going to be a challenge as far as watching my food intake. I set a goal of walking more than my usual goal of 10,000 steps.
  • My goal is to run one mile per day between Thanksgiving and New Years. This is the first full week, so I committed to creating calendar reminders to block off time to do it. Today, I created a checklist to visually see the days that I completed and remind myself to celebrate when I meet my goal!
  • Instead of traditional cardio (walking, running), I did Kettlebell workouts and boxing
  • I convinced others to go outside with me, even in the rain!
  • Partner and I signed up for a Turkey Trot. – Dana Bache
  • When at work I make sure to follow the application that prompts me to take a stretch break and on weekend/holiday make sure to get out and about as much as possible.
  • I go walking just before lunchtime, and  find it easier to be consistent.
  • I did it with a friend; more fun!
  • Invite or tell others to participate in your physical activities/events. Having someone else involved ensured accountability on my end making me follow through.
  • Setting modest, achievable goals for activity really helped. When the goal seems out of reach, it doesn't motivate me, but when it's do-able, I'm more inspired to work to accomplish it.

Mindfulness Tips

  • I used an app called Eat Right Now which is specifically for mindful eating
  • I start my day by doing Tai Chi.  Great breathing focus to get calm and centered.
  • I began to get tired on my 8-hour drive to visit family. I looked up some breathing tips before we left, and practiced my breathing on our ride, and it helped me stay refreshed!
  • Read 'the little book of yoga breathing pranayama made easy...' by Scott Shaw to learn ways to practice breathing and expand my personal mindfulness/awareness of my body and health
  • Calm.com is the best app ever to practice mindfulness!
  • I went to Cabo Mexico last week to an all inclusive resort.  I was mindful of what I was eating and also exercised on vacation.  As a result I did not gain any weight during my week's vacation and I am encouraged to keep up the good plans for the remainder of the holiday season. –Loraine Binion
  • Stopped to think and breathe before responding to family during Thanksgiving holiday.


The Hunger-Satiety Scale

Hunger Satiety Scale

Managing Holiday Stress:

Managing Holiday Stress Worksheet


These testimonials were submitted by 2014 participants after successfully completing the 6 week program.

"During 2013 holiday season, I indulged in my favorite food, beverage and chocolates. I was confident that I could burn them off. But I put on 6 lbs or more and it took almost a year of hard work to burn them off. Gaining weight is easy, but losing is hard. This year, thanks to this program, I was aware, conscious and measured during holiday parties. I maintained and am proud of it. Thank you, Maintain, Don't Gain. Keep coming back....."

"I want to be a wellness ambassador! I really benefited greatly from the program and found that I had a lot of breakthrough moments. Before I would often not exercise thinking--I don't have an hour to workout, so I just won't do it. I realized that it's important to do something, even if it's a 20 minute walk or going to the gym for 30 minutes. It's just important to do something and to be active every day and it doesn't have to be a perfect 1 hour gym workout every single time."
– Jenny Smith, Institute of Transportation Studies

"This program was a great way to look at health holistically, not just exercise and diet. To make long-lasting change, you need to change the way you think and approach things. This program did. I just wish it was longer so I could learn and incorporate more."

"I've been on a path to a healthier life since mid 2013. In that time I've lost over 100 pounds and have gained my life back. I'm healthier, making better decisions for my future, and happy that there are program like this that I can join when things get a little tough. Making small changes in this 6 week program helped me lose about 2 pounds. Something that's usually unheard of over the holidays. It has also inspired me to run a 1/2 marathon!"