How to Stick with Your Wellness Program When You’re Celebrating

I had a lovely time last weekend.

My family and I celebrated my Uncle’s 60th birthday.

His wife (my beautiful Aunt) planned a week’s worth of fun-filled surprises for her husband of almost 30 years. With the help of my Mom (who held the birthday party) and the rest of us who showed up to surprise this wonderful, funny and kind man welcome his 7th decade with love and laughter, we all had a blast.

Most important, though, my Uncle had a fantastic time – and I’d like to think that part of it had to do with the fact that he got to see just how much we love him with all of our hearts.

Now, of course, all of this celebrating meant one other thing.


And plenty of it.

Whether it’s at a restaurant or a party at someone’s home, when you’re celebrating an event – the chances are that food will be abundant.

And fattening.

So with this being said, is it possible to stick with a wellness program when you’re enjoying the festivities?

The answer is yes – but there are a few steps involved.


I’ll share them here knowing that if you follow them, you’ll be able to partake in whatever joyous occasion comes your way without ditching your intention to stay true to your well-being.

How to Stick with Your Wellness Program When You’re Celebrating

I know how challenging it can be to make deliberate choices when you’re surrounded by people, activities, and food that aren’t in alignment with a healthy living program.

The idea is to make things realistic, enthusiastic and enjoyable.

You don’t want to restrict yourself, but you do want to remain empowered.

And if you don’t think this is doable, then I’m here to tell you that it is.

In fact, there had been a time when I wouldn’t have been able to “have my cake and eat it too” without feelings of guilt – nor would I have been able to feel as though I was punishing myself if I refrained from overindulging on certain food groups.

However, these days, it’s no problem for me to enjoy my festivities without my surroundings owning me or my decision-making abilities.

I did this last weekend, and I’ve done it plenty of time before then.

By following the steps I’m about to share with you now, you’ll be free of the self-imposed limitations that keep you a prisoner of your mind – where everything starts.

1 – Remind Yourself of Your Why

One of the best ways to stick with your healthy living program is to remind yourself of why you’re doing this.

The reason for this is because our emotions dictate everything we do.

When you initially decided to embark on a healthy living program, it’s because something happened in your mind, heart and consciousness that let you know you needed to start taking better care of yourself. When this occurs, it’s usually because you’ve experienced the pain of your current circumstances to such a degree that you couldn’t stand it any longer – so you had to make a change.

It’s easy to stay true to your intentions when you’re in the middle of a predictable routine. But when you’re out and about, you’re at the mercy of your surroundings.

When your environment becomes stronger than your Will – it takes over.

It won’t though if you stay connected to your intention.

When you know you’re about to go on vacation, to a party or anything else that resembles a celebration, take some time beforehand and remind yourself of WHY you care enough to make conscious and deliberate decisions.

You don’t have to be perfect about it, but you do need to demonstrate to yourself that you have your best interests at heart – regardless of your surroundings.

This allows you to feel empowered because you’ve assumed personal responsibility for yourself. This is a powerful form of self-trust. When you trust yourself, you are the one in charge.

When the environment dictates your state of being though, you’re a victim.

The question then becomes – which do you prefer?

2 – Plan Ahead

I’ll give you a perfect example of why this is so helpful.

While I am no longer in a state where I’m concerned about being tempted by “bad” food or restricting myself (because I’ve followed my own personal development advice over the years), I still like to plan ahead.

Given that I don’t eat meat, I like to see what my options might be in any given location when it comes to food so that I’m not caught off guard.

I might discover that where I’m going, there aren’t any options for me to enjoy. And even though that never happens, it’s still nice to have a plan just in case.

Well, my family and I had originally planned on going to a specific restaurant the night before the surprise party. I took the liberty of viewing their menu online to narrow down a few of the options I would have been cool with.

Now even though I did this, the plans changed a few times and we ended up at a restaurant I didn’t plan for in advance. We ate much later I usually do (by several hours), so by the time we sat down, I was famished.

However, it was all right.

I found something I not only enjoyed, but there was NO guilt involved in my decision about what I was going to eat.

This is because I stay true to my why, but also because I plan ahead. But even more than that, I’m self-aware. I’m in tune with my inner-world and I have made conscious contact with the “I” that is the decision maker – as opposed to the “me” that reacts to my environment unconsciously.

See, by planning ahead, things still may not go the way you think they will. But by acting like someone who plans ahead, you send yourself a message that says “I’m responsible for my choices, and I can flow along with anything because I trust myself to do right by me.”

Now the good news is, more times than not, by having a plan, you’ll be able to stick with it. You’ll show up prepared – and quite possibly excited about what you’ve already chosen to eat.

Or you might decide to eat something an hour or so before going to the restaurant to make sure you aren’t starving – which will help you make a better choice.

But if things do change along the way, behaving like an individual who plans ahead is the act of changing your mindset from someone who is a victim of their circumstances to one that takes charge.

Another benefit to planning ahead is you may decide to include some physical activity in your celebration to balance out any indulging you might do.

For example, if you go on a cruise, they usually have a gym. You would plan in advance to get some exercise in to remind yourself that you’re someone who takes care of themselves. Or you may invite a family member to go for a fitness walk during a weekend visit.

I did this several years ago while visiting the same people I am discussing in this post, and I’ll tell you – it not only gave me a workout, but we enjoyed spending quality time with one another while doing something active.

Any indulging I did that particular weekend or last weekend didn’t matter.

I had to become a different person to make different choices…

…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Personal Development is the Key

This scenario is no longer a struggle for me.

But it sure used to be.

Healthy living is meant to be a joyful experience that empowers you, not one that makes you feel like a victim.

If I hadn’t changed my perspective on wellness, I would still be at war with myself. Every vacation or celebratory event would involve a battle between me – and myself.

Well-being is our natural state. Our mental, psychological and emotional conditioning, however, is not.

When we combine self-awareness and personal growth with healthy living to transcend our current self-limiting beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of, we no longer make wise choices…

…we become wise.

So consider following these steps when a reason to celebrate comes up.

You can enjoy your festivities without guilt. You can also stay true to your intentions – as long as you remember, clearly, why you set them in the first place.

Does this make sense to you? Do you see that by shifting your perspective and being prepared can allow you to enjoy your celebrations without “wrecking your weight loss program?”

Dana Gore

Author of the books "A Simple Guide to Exercise Safety (What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You)" and "Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity)", Dana Gore is a health and fitness professional, wellness coach, and freelance writer. Dana brings guidance to the public about how to achieve optimal health in a safe and structured manner while inspiring her readers to seek self-awareness and inner peace as a means to well-being in all areas of life.

32 thoughts on “How to Stick with Your Wellness Program When You’re Celebrating

  • at 11:05 pm

    Hi Dana,

    Thanks for sharing the great tips of reminding ourselves to stay focused during holidays as we need to be strict with our work-outs and more specifically count what we eat!
    Thanks for sharing this post with us and have a great week ahead!

    • at 5:59 pm

      Hi Ana,

      No problem 🙂

      We all encounter events and celebrations that can throw us off course. I think it’s great to indulge, as long as it’s perceived in an empowering way.

      I’m glad you got something valuable out of this. Thanks for stopping by.

  • at 3:08 pm

    Hi Dana,

    Great advice as usual! Because I don’t eat meat, I have to ALWAYS plan ahead. It can be a restaurant which is pretty easy to look up the menu on line. Or it can be going to someone’s home or celebrating an event.

    I do believe that one who doesn’t eat meat develops a mindset of planning ahead lol. Otherwise we are stuck with a soggy salad or veggies with some kind of sauce on it. lol

    It’s not about diet, but wellness!


    • at 6:08 pm

      Hi Donna,

      You are so right.
      I had started looking at menu options in advance once I gave up meat. It really helps.

      As far as going to someone’s house, I’ve been able to make it work even though there is ALWAYS meat or poultry around.

      My family has been super cool about things when I visit by keeping some additional options around. A perfect example is when I bring some portobello mushroom caps when someone’s having a BBQ. The truth is, I actually prefer that now over the cheeseburgers I used to crave.

      I never want to put anyone out or make things inconvenient. Because I’ve changed my relationship with food, I can always find something.

      Sorry for the late reply. Thanks so much for contributing.

  • at 1:38 pm

    Yes, Plan ahead. My husband each year does lent and he is so good with sticking to his lent goals even if he attends birthday parties. I think we have to be determined and stick to what we decided to stick to. It is so much easier to get off the path than it is to stay on the path.

    • at 6:14 pm

      I think it’s great that your husband is so dedicated when he sets something in motion. Not always easy to do.

      I was like that when I was in weight loss mode. VERY strict (but I’d give myself a “cheat” day – which I rarely even took advantage of.

      With balance though, it’s possible to indulge without straying from the path.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • at 12:06 pm

    I find that if I tell other people at the party that I am watching what I am eating and about my successes thus far, that I won’t overindulge because I don’t want them to see me eating all of the “bad” things.

    • at 6:17 pm

      Hey Christine,

      That’s a cool strategy. It’s like you’re holding yourself accountable from the start.

      I think we all find what works. Sometimes we have to discover what doesn’t work first to gain some insight into that, but it’s all good as long as it’s your truth and you stay connected to your why.

      I hope you’ve had a good week 🙂

  • at 9:16 am

    Hi Dana,

    The only period in my life where I had a bit of an eating problem was in my late teens as I was going through some emotionally challenging time. As a matter of fact, at the time, I even put on some weight, but it was the ONLY time in my whole life because I quickly put an end to this by losing the weight and was determined that I will never get fat. That is simply something that I couldn’t leave with.

    So determination works. In my case I have two very strong rules, one is never gaining weight and the other is staying healthy. It has really worked for. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy food and even pastry because I sure do, but as you said it’s all about being in control.

    I had read your own story, and you are a great example for many that feel like they’ll never able to take control. I think we all can as long as we decide it once and for all.

    Great tips, and I’m sharing.

    • at 6:22 pm

      Hi Sylviane,

      Awww, thank you. I appreciate that 🙂

      I KNOW you’re a determined person. This is because you know yourself. You’ve done a LOT of work. We have to know ourselves – to connect to those messages we receive from our subconscious mind. When we aren’t aware of this, we behave, but we aren’t in touch with the root cause of things.

      Simple, healthy living is the most pleasant way to go about this. I know you do this – and I know you enjoy your treats. That’s the thing – you enjoy them, but they don’t own you.

      It’s great to see you here and I appreciate your insight. Thanks for stopping by Sylviane.

  • at 3:10 am

    Hey Dana,

    Great ideas. I love the difference between the ‘I’ not only being in total control but enjoying it as opposed to the victim ‘me’. I’m a good planner as I generally have to have food within reach, as I get physically weak.

    I used to have a meal replacement shake before dinning out as I would hog all the bread while waiting for the courses to be delivered. By the time dinner was served I was full.

    I used to carry a can of tuna in my bag to snack on always ensuring I was eating correctly. I have been vegetarian for a little under six months now and have not been tested how I will go outside of my routine. Like you said its not our regular procedure that gets us, its the stuff outside of that where the tests are.

    I used to look forward to celebrations because it was my excuse to let go. I could pig out and believed I had a valid excuse. But as I got better at eating, I would hurt myself eating too much. So I generally go a little overboard but not to the point of uncomfortable anymore. ‘

    I certainly will check out restaurant menus before I go anywhere. I like that idea. And I will take ‘I’ far more seriously in the future. Thank you.


    • at 9:25 pm

      Hi Rachel,

      I did a lot of the same things.

      I would fill up on the bread at the restaurant (a lot of us do this) and I used to view going to restaurants or attending other celebrations as an excuse to overindulge.

      Never felt so great afterward though. Not just because of the results regarding my weight, but because being stuffed is uncomfortable and be repeating that same behavior over and over again, I taught myself that this was the way to be.

      I get what you’re saying as far as the difference between the “I” and the “me”. That’s a great way to phrase it.

      The idea of the meal replacement shake is awesome. I’ve suggested to people that they eat a handful of almonds an hour or so before going out – so what you’ve mentioned is another option.

      Being vegetarian, in my opinion, will open you up to food choices you probably wouldn’t have considered before. It’s worked this way for me.
      The funny thing is you think you’ll feel restricted, but in reality, it inspires you to keep an open mind – which is so freeing.

      Thanks for stopping by Rachel 🙂

  • at 8:46 pm

    Hi Dana,

    It’s so funny you mention planning ahead. I tend to look at the menu, before going to a restuarant, as well to narrow down options. I guess I didn’t see the connection on how it could be helping to stay on track, but now that I look back it does and I’m grateful for it.

    It makes perfect sense to me. My only problem is the sweets. I love a good excuse to have dessert!

    Glad you enjoyed the weekend and the celebration.


    • at 6:31 pm

      Hi Lea,

      Yep, I had first started practicing this technique when the hubs and I were going to go to a restaurant that specialized in dishes I wasn’t into, so I checked their online menu to see what other options they had. I’ve been doing this ever since when necessary.

      Like you, I love dessert too. I think most of us do.
      It’s fine to indulge. Everything in balance.

      Hope you’re having a great week so far. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • at 8:31 pm

    Love this. I watch all the women around me go on this diet and that diet. Diets and eating right should be a life style change. Just because you have a special event or a celebration shouldn’t have to change that. We don’t all like the same kind of food, and we certainly do not need to over stuff ourselves.

    Its a choice we can make.

    • at 6:25 pm

      Hi Sandy,

      I, too, have been around plenty of people going on one diet after another.
      For a while, I was one of them.

      Correct, when this is a lifestyle, it’s much easier to make wise choices. We also don’t overeat because it simply doesn’t feel good to do so.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • at 5:32 pm

    Such great advice! With Easter coming up, it is really important for me to plan ahead, as well. I think you made a really great point by emphasizing the “why.”

    • at 8:33 pm

      Hi Shann,

      Glad you found this valuable.

      Remembering your why is so helpful when it comes to celebrations, events, holidays. etc – especially with an abundance of “sinful” foods around. It’s easy to get lost in the surroundings otherwise.

      I hope this comes in handy when you celebrate Easter this weekend.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • at 2:38 pm

    Really enjoyed this post Dana 🙂 I love how you said to “know your why” ! That is so important when you need to stick with your wellness program when you are out having fun 🙂 Thanks for sharing your awesome tips 🙂

    • at 8:31 pm

      Hi Joan,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.

      Yep – knowing your “why” is so helpful regarding a wellness program – and it comes in handy with other goals as well.

      We tend to make decisions based on emotions. Our why is an emotional component for us, so it’s good to keep that reminder around.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • at 9:50 am

    Love this post Dana and comes right on time because we’re celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

    I used to follow strict diets but now it’s more about portion control. What’s funny is, I don’t crave as much sweets as I used to. I’m a sucker for cake but don’t indulge like I used to.

    One thing that’s helps me is drinking water before I go to a family BBQ or out to dinner. It keeps me full so I don’t over do it because I can go through a bowl of chips and salsa like that. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your tips with us. I like the idea of checking out a menu and knowing what we’re going to eat before we get there. I’m going to have to try that one. I’m sure the hubs will like that too since I take forever to decide on something, hehe.

    Hope you’re having a great week hun!


    • at 8:28 pm

      Hi Cori!

      Yeah, we both have that cake thing…lol. Oh well. I can laugh about it now 😉

      I agree about the portion control. I had started implementing this a while ago and it worked. I couldn’t do it from a place of restriction, though – otherwise I’d end up rebelling against it and catapulting back to the other extreme.
      So I had to get creative about it.

      Drinking water before eating is a great strategy. It staves off those intense hunger pangs – which is one of many reasons we overdo it.

      The next time you go out to eat, definitely check out the menu online first if you can. It’s a great way to prepare in advance – and yes, your hubs may appreciate a quick decision. I used to take forever to make up my mind and I don’t miss that. I’ve been out with others who do the same and I find myself snoring loudly and deliberately (and jokingly) by the time they’ve made a decision.

      I’m glad you found some valuable tips here. Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  • at 6:29 pm

    Hi, Dana
    I love that three you used “Know Your WHY”. It’s a great words to reference to. It can work in many areas.

    In fact, if we eat healthy food daily, we don’t have desire to eat “bad” food. Yes, celebration and food are ” twins” in the party, there are so many temptation to break the good habit. However, we can take the controls by implement some of your tips. Usually I eat fruits, salads, juices etc, before the main course which usual include meat with high fat content.

    thanks for the tips
    Nice week ahead!
    Stella Chiu

    • at 8:20 pm

      Hi Stella,

      I agree with you about when we follow a healthy diet regularly it’s easier to stick with it regardless of our surroundings.

      We become what we do the most. To me, simply following a well-balanced and nutrient dense diet in general is the path of least resistance. Then even if we do indulge, it’s ok. It’s a treat – one that we don’t become attached to or feel guilty about.

      Both you and Harleena have the same idea about filling up on the fruits and veggies beforehand. It’s helpful – and it’s a mental reminder to oneself that “this is what I eat”. It sends a message to ourselves – and we use it as a guide.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. have a great rest of the week 🙂

  • at 1:40 am

    Hi Dana,

    Yes, I saw the wonderful pictures of you and your loved ones on FB, and so glad you all had such a great time 🙂

    Oh yes! Get-togethers and celebration time means your diet and food goes for a six! We have a lot of it at our end too. Loved all of your tips to take control as well. One thing I’ve learnt to do over time is to fill your tummy with fruits, salads, juices etc, before the main function, so you aren’t really that hungry that time. One tends to eat less on the fat foods and sweets, which are killers, but something one can’t resist, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    • at 8:14 pm

      Hi Harleena,

      I’m glad you saw the pics I shared. We all had such a good time 🙂

      Yep – you know how it is when we all get-together. Whether it’s an event, holiday, etc – those “sinful” foods are always around.

      Your idea of filling up on the healthier options is certainly helpful. It’s especially helpful before going to a restaurant because the finger foods aren’t as abundant (those are always easy to overindulge with).
      And of course, it’s good to enjoy the other foods as well. We can establish a sense of balance – and when this is the approach, we can enjoy the festivities without the guilt.

      I appreciate your visit Harleena. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • at 1:11 am

    Hi Dana,

    Great post!

    It’s true that when we eat healthy for the right reasons, we tend to stick with it more easily. I noticed that since eating healthier, my body reacts badly to greasier foods. So, it’s easier to stay away from this kind of foods because I know that I will be sick afterwards. It also shows me that if my body reacts badly to certain types of foods, then it’s not good for me.

    Just like you said, keeping the “why” in mind will help us stay on tracks. And we won’t be as tempted because we are at peace with ourselves and our new view on life.

    Thanks for this amazing post! Hope you had a great weekend! 🙂


    • at 7:55 pm

      Hey Nataly,

      Isn’t it easier when you know your why? I think it is. It’s definitely been the case for me (and I was a hot mess back in the day).

      I don;t doubt that you’re sensitive to the greasy junk foods now that you’ve changed your eating habits. It’s been the same for me.

      I can’t stomach but so much of certain things. For example, I was a big cake lover – ate wayyyyy too much of that. Now after one slice every now and then on special occasions, my body tells me ‘thanks, that was good, but no more.”

      I like having an easier time with digestion – and it sounds like it’s been the case for you as well.

      I appreciate your visit Nataly. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • at 4:41 pm

    Hi Dana,

    I love this. “Know Your WHY”. It’s a great step to live by. I think it’s awesome to use this step in all areas of wellness. It could and can totally work.

    Ahhhhh… and get-togethers. I like to bring a healthy item because I tend to go to family events where everything is carb heavy, tons of desserts and high calories foods. So, I realized many years back, I could bring a healthy food item and people try it and are introduced to good and tasty healthy eating. If they chose not to eat it, then that was ok also. : )

    By the way, I wanted to say thanks for connecting so much as I’ve learned we really do have quite a bit in common. : ) I’d like to share something personal about myself as an effort to begin getting to know each other better. I have 3 children and two furbabies. Love them so very much. If you would like to get to know each other better and network more, I’d love to have you share the same way when leaving a comment at my site. Just a fun thought.

    Wishing you the very best week ever Dana. Take care.


    • at 7:48 pm

      Hi Irish,

      I think bringing a healthy dish to a get together is an excellent idea. I’ve done this and people do go for it. It’s the path of least resistance and it’s a way to introduce others to things they may not have tried yet.

      At this last party, we still had salad and veggies available and most of us did go for that. I’ve also held and attended healthy potlucks and they’re a fun way to enjoy wellness in a social atmosphere while including some creativity into the mix.

      I appreciate the personal details in your comment. I know I shared some of mine when I commented on your post about teenagers and body image (which was fantastic by the way). The comment section allows for us to get to know one another – and I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you. We do seem to have things in common 🙂

      My week’s been cool so far and I hope yours has been as well.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • at 2:27 pm

    Hi Dana,

    I’m so happy to read this! There was a time when I was dieting that I totally ruled out any pleasure eating. I kept myself on a strict eating routine. However, it was very short lived. It was easier for me to quit smoking after many years of puffing it down, than it is for me to give up many of my pleasurable foods. Because I’m not willing to ditch my favorite delights, I’ve been practicing portion control. My biggest downfall is stress eating. I do it while on the job at my away from home office. I’ve gotten into the habit recently to keep celery and carrots there instead of the goldfish pizza, pretzels, chips, and all that other delicious things. Funny how when I work at home, there is not stress eating.

    Anyway, I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom with us. I know there are people out there who could really use your advice and coaching. Passing it along.


    • at 7:38 pm

      Hey Bren,

      Yes, the good news is you don’t have to give up the foods you love in order to be successful with healthy living. Redefining and reprioritizing them, however, is a MUST.

      I still enjoy my treats, they just aren’t that important to me. I think “they’re around. If I really want something, I’ll either look for something comparable or I’ll indulge, just won’t overindulge.”
      Hasn’t been an issue for me since.

      It’s cool that you’re keeping healthier snacks around for when you need them. If you find pleasure in this, it’ll work beautifully. If you find you’re craving the junk, you can always look for something else that might satisfy you.

      I appreciate that you feel I would make a great coach. I enjoy working with people about this. I’ve been there and I know how it is – so helping others make conscious contact with how they perceive wellness is fun for me.

      I hope you’re having a fantastic week 🙂


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