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By Gina Cousineau and Samantha Blankenburg

Gina Cousineau, a culinary nutritionist, and Samantha Blankenburg, a fitness expert.

I can’t tell you how many times Samantha B and I have heard “I just want to lose weight for the holidays” or, better yet, “I can’t believe how much weight I gained over the holidays!”

I don’t know about you, but summer was barely over when I stepped into Costco and found that Halloween and Christmas had exploded amongst the aisles. Taking a deep breath, I steered myself away from the interior of the store and kept to the perimeter to pick up my weekly haul of nutritious and delicious food staples.

No matter where you shop, in person or online, it’s hard to get away from the surplus of pumpkin lattes, muffins, cookies and pies that are around every corner for your sampling pleasure.

With fall comes the start of the holiday season from Rosh Hashanah through New Year’s Day. That is more than three months of constant temptation that is sure to put a damper on your efforts to improve your health.

As a culinary nutritionist, I want my clients to enjoy every morsel they put in their mouths, but I also want those morsels packed full of nutrition. The bottom line is that you can have your cake and eat it, too, if you can find balance—especially when temptation is at its greatest.

Keeping that holiday spirit, Samantha B and I propose that this year, for perhaps the first time ever, you not start that new diet or rigorous exercise program, but instead consider reducing your stress in this most wonderful time of the year by maintaining status quo.

Your nutrition

Rather than trying to eliminate healthy food groups to save calories for unhealthy ones, consider indulging more mindfully this holiday season, using the healthy food plate visual as your guide.

Picture half your plate chocked with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ filled with wholesome grains, beans, and legumes (including the starchy veggies: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas and hard-shelled squashes), and ¼ plate encompassing lean proteins, animal and/or vegetable options.

Sticking to wholesome foods and healthy fats while building your meals, at home and away, allows you to enjoy a few special splurges—homemade desserts and family favorites versus store-bought cookies and Halloween candy—throughout the season.

This mindful eating approach, coupled with fitness as a part of your daily life, will not only contribute to your overall health by reducing stress, it could also be an opportunity to create memories and new holiday traditions with your family and friends.

5K to Feast: Use this Seven-Week Training Program to get you ready for the annual Turkey Trot in Dana Point, as well as the rest of the holiday season.

Your Fitness

Signing up for the local Turkey Trot is the perfect way to incorporate a regular exercise routine into your life for the next seven weeks.  If you have not been participating in a regular fitness regimen up until this point, stick to the 5K; otherwise, go ahead and sign up for the 10K.

Here is the best advice anyone ever gave me when it came to road racing: “You are not going to win!” Knowing this right then and there, the stress is off, and all you have to do is show up on race day and complete it with the people you love (walk/jog/run or a combination of all three).

Now, Samantha B would hate for you to feel unprepared come turkey day, so by following this simple outline, you will be race-ready to complete what is hopefully your first annual family and friends Pre-Thanksgiving Feast tradition. For more information on the Dana Point event, head to

Culinary nutritionist Gina Cousineau and fitness professional Samantha Blankenburg, co-own Mama G’s Lifestyle, offering in-person and virtual nutrition, fitness and lifestyle consulting. They welcome your questions and comments at You can learn more about them through their podcast “Calling Their Bull” and on Instagram @MamaGsLifestyle.

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