Would anyone like a Holiday Season challenge?

The holidays can be a hard time for healthy eating, so I was wondering if there was any interest in a challenge starting November 1 and running through January 1. Each participant could set their own goal, whether to lose/maintain weight, or hit their macros on a certain number of days, or whatever other goal would help them to stay on track during a tough time.

I would like to stay on track with my weight loss, and personally would like to lose 10 lbs over those two months, while remaining plant based.

Would anyone else be in? We can provide encouragement, positive reinforcement, share victories whether big (no weight gain before the New Year) or small (only ate 1 of Aunt Hilda's Double Fudge Salted Caramel Brownies).



  • Hello .... I am a new vegan and would love to join you on a holiday season challenge. I am menopausal, I have an underactive thyroid and feel I am losing the weight loss battle. I have gained 28lbs in the last 2 years.

  • I understand the difficulty. I am on thyroid meds too, but I also was going the wrong direction for a long time. Eating vegan helps me a lot with resisting temptation, because I can't just impulse purchase junk food or impulse eat something someone else made. Of course, that only works if I don't plan to purchase junk food, because there's plenty of vegan sweets ;).

    I know you can do it. Welcome to the challenge.

    Also, Paul, I wish you well in your bacchanalian revels. :wink:

  • I'll join! I think to keep it as simple as possible I will have two very-achievable goals. 1. Be (solidly) below 170 on January 1 and 2. Do Pilates or 30 minutes of walking/other movement every single damn day.

    I used Cronometer for only a couple weeks about six months ago and it was SO eye-opening. I thought I was eating really healthy and 'deserved' to be much thinner than I am. What was most eye-opening for me was seeing how much saturated fat I was eating on a daily basis! I was really apples & cheese at the time -- as in, that was a meal for me every day. Heaven! Anyway, just a tiny bit of tracking plus a serendipitous reading of HOW NOT TO DIE helped me make the sudden decision to give up meat & dairy. I've now been mostly vegan for about six months, eating totally vegan at home and vegan when possible in restaurants but otherwise vegetarian. I love this way of eating & maybe too much because my carbs have increased tremendously since going vegan but I'm loving the food! Anyway, I'm just re-starting to track my food and portions. To be under 170 is only a loss of 3-5 pounds, and the exercise goal is just a matter of going for a walk every day at minimum.

    So - I'm in!

  • Oh wow ..... I have joined Cronomter today and I am just filling in my first day. Yep definitely an eye opener especially the carbs and lack of protein. I would like to get to 164 by the end of the year ..... that's 8lb for me. I do HIIT training 3 times a week and run once a week. I have 3 vegan friends and we share ideas on WhatsApp. I just wish I had changed to vegan years ago.

  • Indianna, what are you eating? I am almost never below my protein requirements since I've been tracking, but I eat a lot of lentils, canned/refried beans, and some tofu. I also eat some meat replacements if I'm in the mood or I need to add a little bit more protein. Also remember if you are eating pasta or something, whole wheat will give you more protein for your calorie bucks. And in a pinch, I love chickpeas, even straight from a can.

  • I love chickpeas too! I eat nuts and lentils. I use wheat-free wholemeal pasta, couscous, rice, porridge. As you can see I am very carb-heavy. I am going to buy tofu this week. Do you have any other ideas for extra protein, please?

  • @Indianna, Check out the Oracle! This is a Gold Feature that can recommend foods for you based on what nutrients you are trying to obtain! https://cronometer.com/help/foods/#oracle

    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Thank you ... I'm not a gold member tho! I've hit between 70-80% for the last 3 days. Need to swap some carbs for more beans, nuts and lentils.

    How's everyone else doing?

  • Hi! Checking in ... it turns out I have a solid 5 pounds to lose to meet my holiday season goal, which is roughly .5 pounds per week, certainly seems achievable. Tracking with Cronometer is so interesting; I love seeing how easy it is to swap out certain things to make a big difference. So far I'm on track with my daily exercise as long as I go for a walk later, which I'm planning to.

    I'm also starting to read Vegan Before 6 by Mark Bittman (who writes excellent cookbooks!), and it's a pretty appealing idea to me. He started eating that way after his doctor told him his numbers weren't good for pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. and he was about 40 pounds overweight, had sleep apnea, etc. His doctor suggested he eat vegan, but played around with a few ideas and began eating vegan before six (and no processed food) and then whatever he wanted for dinner. Within two months, his numbers were all within normal range and he'd lost a bunch of weight.

    Since I'm doing vegan for health reasons, I'd certainly be willing to be less strict at dinnertime if it didn't impact my health, so I'm going to consider moving toward that. I'm sure I'd still eat vegan at night at least five nights per week, but it would be good to have the flexibility to relax the strictness on occasion.

  • Indianna, as far as getting more protein, here's what I had in the last couple days that had a decent amount of protein and was yummy:
    -- Trader Joe's Organic lentil & vegetable soup - 14g
    -- Smoothie (banana, strawberry, almond milk, one scoop Orgain Vegan protein powder) - 13g, and I only used 1 scoop of the powder when usually you use two for an 8-ounce drink, so if you used 2, that would be 20+ grams.
    -- Avocado toast - one slice Dave's Killer Good Seed bread, smashed avocado with red pepper flakes and lemon squeezed in - HEAVEN - and almost 12 grams of protein.

    I haven't usually added protein powder to smoothies, but I decided to do so because I really wanted to feel full (it worked).

  • Hi Indianna,

    What helps me is to pre-log my meals. I try to plan at least one day ahead, so I'm logging for the next day, and then I can see if I'm a little low somewhere. I always keep black bean burgers in my freezer along with some vegan chicken so I can add a little extra protein if necessary. Gardein makes a good chicken, so does Boca (in patty form). I also keep cans of beans in my cupboard at all times: chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, black beans, vegetarian chili, vegetarian refried beans, etc. I like white or kidney beans in vegetable soup, I can put half a can of chili over a baked potato, or I can make a quick burrito/tostada.

    Also don't be afraid to have unconventional breakfasts and get a little protein in that way! Refried beans on whole wheat toast with salsa is a delicious breakfast, and so are vegetarian baked beans.

    Here's my favorite lentil stew recipe, and it's super easy and cheap:


    And don't forget quinoa! It's a complete protein. Peanut butter can be a good source too, just watch your portions.

    If you get firm tofu, you can press it (google pressing), then cut it into cubes, dust in cornstarch, and fry in just the barest amount of oil. It gets crispy and lovely, and then you can toss it into a stir fry or sprinkle a little sweet chili sauce on it. You can also marinate it and then bake it. I like to use the juice from a can of pineapple, some soy sauce, some ginger and a little red chili flake.

    If you get silken tofu, you can blend it into a smoothie with frozen fruit and banana and bump up the protein that way.

    I also make hummus wraps with lots of veggies, split pea soup, etc. I hope this helps!

  • As for my own goals, I'm actually down from when I said I wanted to lose 10, but since the challenge hasn't "officially" started yet, I'm going to push myself and say that I want to lose 10 beginning Nov 1.

    Good luck everyone!

  • All right everyone, Wednesday is the first! Happy Halloween!

    Just to confirm, for EllieC I have: Below 170 on 1-1 (approx .5 per week) and exercise daily.

    For myself, I have 10 lbs lost from 11/1 to 12/31, and I'm going to add strength training on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as a second goal.

    Indianna, what would you like to work on? Achieving your daily protein target?

  • I'd love to join. I'd like to stay my current chubby happy self and have all my current cute clothes still fit on Jan 1st. I'd like to continue increasing my strength and flexibility and feed my hair and nails and skin especially!

  • Sounds great! Welcome to the challenge. I can be pretty haphazard myself. ;)

  • Happy November 1!

    I haven't eaten anything yet (it's just 6:30 in the morning where I am), but my plan for today is:

    Breakfast: oatmeal with canned pumpkin, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon, vanilla soy milk

    Lunch: split pea soup (made it yesterday when I was home with a cold), honeycrisp apple

    Dinner: homemade pizza sauce on 2 crisped up tortillas, with olives, green pepper, and vegan pepperoni, a banana

    I find logging ahead helps me make better decisions since I can see where I'm at with my nutrients, and I never find myself starving and not knowing what to eat.

  • Planteater, nice job planning your meals for the day. I'm excited to begin! Just had a yummy avocado toast for breakfast, along with some carrots and cucumbers & I'm off to Pilates in a bit, so my exercise for day one WILL happen. (It will happen every day, darn it!) Thanks partly to cronometer, I am trying to actively ADD IN lots of fruit and veggies - it's as much a focus as trying to eliminate other things.

    Happy November 1, everyone!

  • Congratulations to everyone that's stayed with us so far!

    I have a confession: I missed the weight training I wanted to do on Wednesday and Friday because I had a cold and didn't feel up to it. So I'm substituting a session today for the Friday one (finally feel like a real human again) and hope to get back on track on Monday.

    In better news, I'm down a pound! How is everyone else progressing?

  • I made it through Halloween Treats Season without gaining or losing anything. 💕

  • Still sober! It's a daily struggle.

  • As a fellow vegan, I'll join in!

    My goals are as follows:

    1) Cardio 2x per week
    2) Increase chin-ups to 20
    3) Limit myself to 2 drinks per week.

    I love to lift weights, but hate doing cardio. My goal over the next few weeks is to make sure that 2 of my workouts include cardio (at least 45-60 min).

    I also want to limit my alcohol intake at home since I know that there will be several, more indulgent, Christmas parties coming up. Plus, my family is a little crazy (in a good way), so it will be helpful to learn to deal with them.

    Love all the inspiration so far!

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Welcome! Thanks for joining the surprisingly vegan challenge. ;)

    And I am inspired by anyone that can do even one chin-up, so I'll definitely be pulling for you to hit your target.

  • OK, so I didn't go for official walks this weekend, as I was on a getaway & just didn't have time, but I did do a ton of walking, so I'm OK with that. Back on schedule today. Have a good week, everyone.

  • @planteater

    Last year, I couldn't do more than 1 chin-up. Consistency was key. :)

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • So tomorrow we'll be 10 days in, 1/3 of the way through November, and 15% done with the challenge! How is everyone doing on their goals?

    I am doing great with the weight loss, less great with the weight training. I tried to add cardio and weights at the same time, and I think I may have aggravated an old ankle injury. It's swollen and it hurts when I flex my foot or stand on tiptoe. So I'm dialing back a bit and doing more gentler exercises and making extra sure of my stretching until it feels better.

    Today was not a great day food-wise: too much peanut butter, not enough fruits and veggies, but if I stop now I'm still a few hundred calories under maintenance, so I'm drawing a line under my eating for today. My diary isn't pretty at the moment, but I feel good about the fact that I logged it. I also feel good about the fact that this day is the exception, not the rule.

  • I'm in Montreal for a conference on Sports Nutrition and have found it difficult to stick to my fitness routine. However, the food has been awesome since they are fueling a bunch of athletic dietitians!

    I like to set mini goals when I'm out of my normal routine. So, my plan while here is to walk to and from the conference (a 20 minute walk) and incorporate at least 1 training session.

    Good luck to everyone else!

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Sounds like a great plan!

    How's the walking going Ellie?

    HH, I'm curious as to what you're doing to increase your flexibility. I've been experimenting with some yoga videos on youtube but haven't found one I'm enthusiastic about.

  • I'd like to join as well. I pretty much started myself at the beginning of November. I just created an account today and will start logging my next few days of meals tonight. I'm headed back to see my MD in mid-December and I'd like to have lost about 5-6lbs by then.

    It's difficult at work. I've been temporarily assigned to a different worksite while my regular workplace is being completely remodeled.

    At the old office my co-workers would bring food in occasionally. We're talking a snack here or there. The manager enjoys baking but never really brought in food too often. One co-worker had a chocolate jar and I'm guilty of having kept it constant filled.

    Where I am now? There's a lot of snack/junk food out all of the time. One of the workers told me I wouldn't lose any weight there because they always had a spread of food out. I'm going to prove her wrong.

    I've been planning ahead lately. I work a lot of part-time evening shifts. On the way to work I eat a whole grain cracker with some peanut butter or nut butter on it, sometimes I'll have 1/2 avocado, and some celery as well. And I drink lots of water. By the time I get to work I'm relatively satisfied and have been able to avoid the junk food. We'll see how well this works between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • Welcome and good luck! Sounds like a challenging environment, to be sure, but planning is key and it sounds like you have things well in hand.

    I found out today that I'm starting a new job on Friday, and I'll be going into a completely unfamiliar environment, so today I'm making minestrone and split pea soup to get ahead of the game.

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