Surviving Holidays and Special Events

Holiday Survival
Holiday Survival

Surviving Holidays and Special Events

Holidays and special events should be times of great joy, but dieters approach these occasions with fear and panic. Why? Because a celebration’s not a celebration without tons of high-calorie, tempting foods. Does this mean that you have to become anti-social to avoid temptation? Not if you plan a “survival” strategy beforehand and stick to it. This strategy should address actions before, during, and after the event.

Holidays and special events are usually non-stop cues for eating. Trays of nibbles are set out, alcohol is served in abundance, and meals are served that could feed an entire army battalion. Besides physical food cues, stress of preparation, the letdown after the event, and the depression triggered by sad memories, often prompt emotional eating.

Holiday Survival Tips

On the day of the event, there are several ways you can control your eating. These tips can reduce stress and associated eating cues before they happen.

✅  Eating a betterMD nutrition product or high-bulk foods, such as an apple, salad, or bowl of whole-grain cereal, can fill you up beforehand so you don’t overeat.

✅  As soon as you get to the function, look over the food and pick out a few “special” foods to eat and skip all the others.

✅  Eat slowly and savor every bite to maximize your enjoyment. By allowing yourself selected delicious foods, you can enjoy yourself without needing to pile on everything in sight.

✅  Just to be on the safe side, you might want to cut back your intake for a few days before and after so you can have a little extra at your celebration.

What you do on Thanksgiving is far less important than what you do before and after the party.

Mike Murdy, betterMD founder

If You Are Hosting an Event

Plan Ahead – If you’re doing the entertaining, the preliminary work can be especially taxing. With hectic schedules, there never seems to be enough time to plan, clean, shop, and cook. You can help yourself by practicing time management and getting help from others. To plan your time, sit down and write out daily schedules for the weeks before the event. Determine what you can reasonably do in that time frame and when you plan to do it.

Accept Help – Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Get your spouse, children, and other relatives involved with the cleaning, shopping, and cooking. For example someone can go to the grocery store, while others clean assigned areas of the house, and your guests are probably happy to bring some of the food. If it’s in your budget, consider hiring help to clean, cater meals, and serve food.

Menu Planning – In planning the types of food to serve, why not choose healthier, low-calorie alternatives? You don’t necessarily have to give up traditional favorites if you modify recipes to cut down on sugar and excessive calories. For instance, turkey stuffing can be made with sauteed onions and celery in broth rather than butter. A simple way to cut calories in gelatin molds is to use sugar-free gelatin. Take a look at your recipes to see if you can eliminate or decrease some ingredients or substitute lower calorie alternatives. You can feel good about helping your friends and relatives eat healthier!

It’s also a great time to establish new traditional dishes. There are lots of low-calorie, gourmet cookbooks on the market. Look through some to see if any of the delicious dishes would fit into your entertainment.

Leftovers Can Be Challenging

Try these strategies to minimize “leftover hangover”

👍  Too often food goes into your mouth rather than the storage container, even if you’re already stuffed. Chewing sugarless gum or asking others to help in cleaning up can decrease your chances of nibbling on leftovers.

👍  You can prevent next-day, high-calorie consumption by giving take-home packages to your guests, taking food into work, or dividing leftovers into small-portion homemade TV dinners.

💯  Probably the best way to avoid the leftover problem is to not cook so much food in the first place. Everyone will be satisfied and less “bloated” afterwards if you cook only enough to serve your guests.

Holiday Goodies and Treats

What do you do if your friends and family traditionally give baked goods, gourmet food baskets, candy, or alcohol for gifts? Beforehand, tell everyone about your diet and ask them to forego food gifts. If you still get them, thank the person, but later give the food away to friends, neighbors, or co-workers. This way, you won’t hurt the giver’s feelings, and you’ll eliminate temptation.

The Reason for the Season

The final suggestion for handling holidays and special events is to return to the original intention of these occasions. They’re intended as social gatherings with friends and families, not food orgies. Start emphasizing the social interactions. Plan group activities that everyone will enjoy. If possible, include group walks or physical activities that are fun and burn calories! By enjoying the company of others, you can focus on fellowship instead of food.

Blessings and Well Wishes 🙏 from betterMD and the Murdy Family

Beating the Holiday Blues

sad woman
sad woman

Beating the Holiday Blues

In the real world, many people experience the holiday blues – feelings of sadness or loneliness. These feelings often stem from the stress and fatigue of trying to do too much during the holidays, or from setting unrealistic expectations. For many people, the inability to be with family can lead to the blues. Still others feel the loss of loved ones more acutely during the holidays, making even the most festive celebrations difficult.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help beat the blues this holiday season:

☑️. Be realistic – Every holiday season doesn’t have to be your best ever. Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Don’t overestimate what you can and will do. Instead, pace yourself, organize your time, and make a list and prioritize your most important activities.

☑️. Practice moderation – Excesses can take their toll. Whether it’s food, drink, parties or spending, be conservative. Make your celebrations healthy by including low-calorie snack options and alcohol-free beverages. Get plenty of sleep and keep up your activity level. Set some specific limits to spending, and consider gifts of time or handmade presents.

☑️. Let go of the past – Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by thinking everything has to be just like the “good old days.” Life brings changes. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Look toward the future. As families change and grow, traditions may need to change as well.

☑️. Try something new – Experiment with new ways to enjoy the holidays. Create some new traditions. Go on a family vacation or volunteer your time to a favorite charity.

☑️. Seek out the people you love – Spend time with people who are supportive and who care about you. Reach out to make new friends if you are alone during the holidays. Contact someone with whom you have lost touch.

☑️. Do something for someone else – Getting involved and helping others can be a great way to lift your spirits. It’s also a good way to make new acquaintances. Try searching for volunteer opportunities in your area, there is no shortage of people in need.

☑️. Consider your health – Get plenty of sleep and schedule time for activity. Not only will increased activity help fend off extra pounds; it will make you feel more refreshed and less fatigued. Also, find personal time for yourself.

Remember the reason for the season... be kind to everyone, and be especially kind to yourself.

Mike Murdy, betterMD founder

☑️. Be realistic about others – People do not change just for the holidays. Set differences aside, and try to accept family members as they are. Leave old grievances or discussions about differences until a more appropriate time. It makes no sense to hope that somehow “this year will be different” only to feel resentful when it is not.

☑️. Reflect on the season – Take a few minutes every day to reflect on the joy of the season, and to be thankful for your family, your health and the blessings of your life.

☑️. Don’t ignore your feelings – If you suffer from the holiday blues, don’t avoid your negative feelings. Talk with someone you trust about what you are experiencing, and try to get another perspective on it.

When you’re feeling worse than blue…

Don’t ignore severe symptoms of depression, because it is the holidays. The “holiday blues” are relatively mild, time-limited and non disruptive vs. Depression, which has a significant impact on your ability to cope day to day.

Be aware that prolonged or severe sadness accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, loss of energy, diminished interest in activities, significant appetite and sleep changes or thoughts of suicide may signal a treatable problem that should be evaluated by a mental health professional. If you, or someone close to you is suffering from depression, seek help from a qualified mental health professional.

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My Weight Control Journey

My Journey so far...
My Journey so far...

My Weight Control Journey

My weight history is not unique. I was an average weight child, for the most part, but I do remember being embarrassed about being dragged to the “Husky” section of the boys department in Sears. Even as a child I knew that it was a code word for “fat boys,” and something to be avoided.

Through early adulthood, I managed my weight by being active. I had physical jobs and an outdoor lifestyle. Then, like many others, I suffered a series of physical injuries, which led to declining activity levels. I made things worse by making poor lifestyle decisions, which accelerated my weight gain.

By the time I was fifty, I felt like an old man.


I had already been through numerous orthopedic surgeries, and I was taking a fistful of prescriptions every day (actual photo of my meds!)

The really sad part is… I had accepted it.

Now up until this point, my story is relatively common. It gets more interesting when you consider the fact that I had already founded betterMD, a medical weight management company, and we had successfully helped thousands of patients lose weight.

My “do as I say, not as I do” lifestyle made me a world-class hypocrite. I was coaching new patients to eat better, exercise regularly and do the hard work of changing their lifestyles. But was I doing it? Not so much!

Don’t get me wrong, I had lost thirty to forty pounds on more than one occasion by following a very low calorie diet. However, even with all my knowlege and experience, I always regained more weight than I lost.

My weight gain continued and my health suffered, but worse…

I had accepted this as a life sentence that would never change.


We are all capable of making better choices, which can lead to lasting change.

This became clear to me in 2016, when I chose to quit drinking. I had battled with alcohol (and suffered because of it) for many years. My recovery is an amazing and ongoing blessing, but that’s a story for another day. I use this milestone to mark the turning point in my weight control journey for several reasons:

I am five and a half feet tall and my highest weight was 248 pounds. When I decided it was time to take action, I realized if I wanted a different outcome, I was going to need a new approach. In the past, Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) plans had worked well for losing weight quickly, but not so well for keeping my weight off.

The challenge was how to achieve:

1) Fast, effective weight loss in the beginning;

2) Followed by steady, sustained weight loss;

3) Resulting in long-term weight control.

Fast, effective weight loss

I managed the first phase of my journey without too much struggle, since I had successfully used meal replacements many times before… I zipped through the first couple months averaging twenty pounds of weight loss a month. Now, that is highly motivating!

It was at this point, down forty pounds, that I made an important discovery. I was starting to get what I refer to as, “diet fatigue,” which was historically the point at which I would stop dieting and try to “eat healthy.” To be honest, this was usually the point at which my weight loss ended and the weight gain would begin.

I decided that instead of cutting back on meal replacements, I would modify my plan by adding more fresh, whole foods, and a lean, portion-controlled meal.

Steady, sustained weight loss

I found that even at this higher calorie level, my weight loss continued to average around ten pounds a month. Even more surprising, I discovered that my feelings of “missing out” and “self-denial” faded quickly. I learned what worked for me, and how to fit my plan into my daily life.

Over time, as I lost another sixty pounds I made another set of discoveries. My taste preferences were shifting. I found myself enjoying fresh foods more and this led to another important observation:

Making good nutrition choices crowds out the poor ones.

This part of my journey was pleasant. I felt better most all the time. I kept betterMD shakes and nutrition bars on hand and I tried to take something every 2 hours. As long as I spaced my nutrition evenly throughout the day, it seemed effortless. It was like being on auto-pilot. And if I had a slip, I could shake it off and go right back to my routine.

As I continued to lose weight I began to focus on fitness. My physical capabilities increased steadily, and I was able to rehab decades-old injuries, specifically the ankle and knee of my right leg. This enabled me to do things I hadn’t done for many years, things I had given up hope of ever doing again…

…and the more I moved, the better I felt.

…SUPER BONUS – By this point I was no longer taking any of the medication in the picture above! 

I wanted to shout from a mountain top... "IT'S NOT TOO LATE. IF I CAN DO THIS, SO CAN YOU!"
betterMD ico round
Mike Murdy

Long-term weight control

The good feelings I got from each small win seemed to fuel a positive upward spiral, which was a welcome change from my usual pattern of yo-yo dieting. After losing 100 pounds, I was nervous about changing the plan that helped me lose so much weight so easily. I was determined to figure out how to adapt my simple plan to achieve long-term weight control.

Then it struck me…

I didn’t need to modify my plan as much as I needed to change the way I was looking at it. As long as I continued using betterMD products, I could be selective in my food choices without being undernourished—or hungry!

By this time I had found a long list a healthy, fresh foods I liked and I had a routine that was easy for me to follow. I was getting optimum daily nutrition and I felt good, but it was time to add more calories back into my daily plan.

I started mixing my betterMD shakes with almond milk, skim milk, and eventually 2% Milk. I added MCT oil and ghee to my morning coffee. I experimented with new recipes and healthy foods that I had avoided in the past. I tweaked my program on a frequent basis, following these guidelines:

Continue to use betterMD products for nutrition and hunger suppression

Avoid processed and packaged food as much as possible – EAT FRESH!

Be moderate in all things, easy does it.

My weight control plan continues to evolve as I learn new and exciting things in my daily life. This is a journey, not a destination… and I have decided that the only way I can fail is if I quit. So, I’m going to keep doing what works: I’m listening to my body and nourishing it, I’m taking better care of myself, and I’m feeling better!

My weight loss and the health improvements that came with it have been a blessing to me and my life has improved immeasurably. My journey is uniquely my own, but there are common challenges and obstacles we all face in weight loss. By sharing our stories and our support for each other, we can make a difference.


Join the conversation 😉

-Mike Murdy

PS – visit us on FaceBook and Join the “Living betterMD” private group

SMART Goals for Weight Loss: Tips and Strategies

Set SMART Goals
Set SMART Goals

SMART Goals for Weight Loss: Tips and Strategies

Losing weight is an incredibly difficult task, and it can be even more frustrating when you set unrealistic goals. We are going to discuss the importance of setting realistic goals for weight loss, and provide strategies to help make your goals achievable. We’ll also talk about how to avoid giving up on yourself in the process!

A goal should be SMART – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific Goals

Specific goals are important because they ensure that you know exactly what it is you’re aiming to do. This way, no matter how hard the task may be, at least you have a clear idea of what your goal is and can work towards achieving it in small increments instead of just hoping for something vague.

For example, if I ’m trying to lose weight, a specific goal would be “I want to lose two pounds this week.” If instead I say “I want to lose a lot more weight,” the goal is too general. It isn’t specific enough. Your goals need to be broken into bite-sized pieces.

“If you aim for nothing, that’s what you’ll hit!”

Measureable Goals

A specific goal can also help you measure your progress on a daily basis and set new goals for the following week, such as “My weight loss this past week was one pound; I want to lose two pounds next week,” or “I am averaging 5,000 steps per day; I want to increase this to 7,000 steps per day.”

Your weight is only one of many metrics you can use to track your efforts and progress. Be sure to explore what works best for you.

"You can't manage what you don't measure!"

Attainable Goals

By breaking your weight loss goals into specific, near-term milestones, you set yourself up for success! …and everyone loves to win. For example, “I am going to walk for 15 minutes at lunchtime, each day this week.”

Each goal you achieve, no matter how small, helps build positive momentum. You’ll feel the progress as you pass these milestones, which will help keep you motivated.

“Harness the power of success and fuel your progress!”

Relevant Goals

In order to get the most out of your weight loss efforts, make sure that you’re setting goals that are relevant and important to you. Your weight is a factor in your overall health, but your goals must reflect more than a number on a scale.

Think of the things you are going to be able to do, and the aches and pains you are going to reduce… but first and foremost, make sure you are doing this for yourself. You can be a positive influence on those around you, but only if you give yourself the attention and self-care required.

“Weight loss can't be sustained if it isn’t self-motivated.”

Timely Goals

Weight loss goals need to be short-term enough to be useful, while still allowing time and flexibility for change to happen.

One way to do this is the following:

  • set weight loss goals that you can achieve in two weeks;
  • if you meet your first set of goals, then make another set of two week goals
  • if you fall short of your goals, re-evaluate… and adjust your plan appropriately, and make a new set of two week goals;

after several successful rounds of two week goals, you can try expanding to three or four week goals.

The best scenario will be where these goals are achievable and not too strict so as to discourage progress; have ample time to work towards the next goal, but not so long that you lose focus. This way, your goals are attainable and progress is built upon itself in a positive manner.

The Evolution of betterMD

betterMD warehouse mural
betterMD warehouse mural

The Evolution of betterMD

betterMD founded October 1999

betterMD began as an idea shared by the founders (as told in our story) to extend safe, effective weight loss through a network of doctors,  the betterMD Network… and so our company,, Inc. was founded in 1999, and our medical weight management business was launched.

Initially, we helped weight loss seekers create a letter of introduction and a treatment plan which they were required to have approved by their primary care provider. Our goal being, the doctor would then team up with betterMD to supervise their patient’s treatment, and our network of weight-friendly doctors would grow. 

The Science of Weight Loss

As our patients lost weight, word spread and we were joined by both clinical and research partners. Very early in our development we were chosen by the WEA Trust (Wisconsin Education Assn Council) to conduct a five year, $5M study of obesity treatment. From this reseach, Dr. Murdy’s team published several papers outlining his patient’s success with meal replacement therapy and Internet-based support. During this period, we also conducted and published research funded by the National Dairy Council, studying the use of dairy in a novel, milk-based weight loss plan.

Remote and Internet-based treatment

As the medical weight loss industry matured, our focus shifted to supporting larger clinic and hospital-based programs. Of course, Dr. Murdy continued to see his patients and betterMD continued to work with interested providers throughout the region, but our goal was to use emerging technology to extend our success to larger groups of patients.

To accomplish this goal, betterMD specialized in Internet-based support for the multi-disciplinary treatment of obesity. In plain language, we learned how to use the web to help people change their behavior and lose weight. And it worked!

Patients in the weight loss programs supported by betterMD continue to safely and effectively lose significant amounts of weight, improving their lives in many ways.

EV-O-LU-TION: The gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.

Oxford Languages & Google [ ]

Self-directed weight control

More and more people are taking control of (and responsibility for) their health. Self-directed weight control is an essential part of this movement and is growing rapidly.

According to one estimate, weight-loss programs are an $80 billion business in America alone, and folks are trending toward more self-directed weight loss plans. According to this same study, while weight-loss programs have increased by 20% since 2003, self-directed weight loss has increased by 400%.

betterMD Nutrition Products are ideal for weight loss and healthy living and we are now making them available to the self-directed weight loss market.

betterMD meal plan

This is an overview of a basic meal plan for weight loss. Obviously, you will need to modify it to suit your goals and lifestyle.

The plan calls for both betterMD nutrition products, and whole, fresh foods, and spans a calorie range of 1100 to 1500 calories, depending upon a few simple variations.

In it’s simplest form, you will consume five betterMD products, plus 2 to 3 servings of fresh veggies and a 350 calorie, portion-controlled meal. It’s that easy!

Contact us to learn more and get started.