If you enjoy a special treat on Thanksgiving or Christmas, I have good news: it’s not going to derail your fitness and nutrition routine. What will derail you is eating stuff like this regularly throughout the entire holiday season.
It’s no surprise the holidays — a time of parties, family get-togethers, traveling and bad-for-you foods — can be challenging for anyone with fitness and nutrition goals. But with some simple planning and strategy, surviving the season without abandoning our health goals is possible — and still enjoyable. Here’s how …
1. Fitness in the bank. If you’ll be surrounded by temptation during the holidays, act now: increase your workout intensity and improve your nutrition immediately. As a result, you’ll be in better shape heading into the holidays, and you’ll be able to draw against this “banked fitness” in case you miss a few workouts or cave to some special foods. And if you do, you’ll break even — and that’s okay.
2. Shake for breakfast. During the holiday season, have a protein shake for breakfast — especially on days when a holiday feast is planned. You don’t want to load up on extra calories at breakfast, so save holiday treats for later. You also want to make sure you get in your proper nutrition for the day.
3. Don’t give in to pressure. Sometimes we feel a perceived pressure to eat everything at a holiday dinner because we fear offending our hosts. Even if the pressure is real, there are ways to get around it without making a big deal about your diet. Look for lean protein and vegetables, and do your best to stay away from mashed potatoes and other carbs. By loading up with turkey, green beans and salad, for example, your plate will look full — and most importantly, you’ll still be participating in the dinner without making any special requests.
4. Find time to exercise. You always want to get in your workouts, even if they’re shorter. Maintaining your exercise routine during the season will keep you focused on your fitness plan and help with holiday stress. If you’re traveling, don’t leave your fitness to chance — take your gym with you by packing items like resistance bands to help you stay on track. You can also find a fitness center wherever you’re going.
Missing a workout or two won’t hurt. But when people start skipping several workouts, they tend to make it worse by self-sabotaging — eating whatever they want and putting off exercising until January. You don’t want to give yourself a free pass.
5. Get fresh air. Go outside for some of your workouts, even if it’s cold. Go for a run or a hike. Or better yet, invite your family or friends and make it a group activity. If you’re traveling, just plan ahead for the weather so you’ll be able to dress appropriately.
6. Share it. If you’re running in the cold or exercising in your grandma’s spare bedroom to stay on track, tell people about it through social media. It’s often a badge of honor to overcome these situations, and it’s rewarding to be acknowledged for doing them. You might even inspire others to follow your lead.
I hope these six tips help you this season! Happy holidays — and best fitness wishes!