Healthy Holiday Survival


There’s one simple truth about the holidays. Everyone loves Santa, but no one wants to end up like Santa. The holiday 5, 10 or 15 is a true battle that almost all of us undertake every year.

Truthfully, it’s a hard fight. Between all of the parties, traditions and butter-rich food you’re busy running around shopping, socializing and spending time with family. It’s easy to get out of one’s routine that’s religiously adhered to between January to Thanksgiving.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no reason why you should expect to gain weight during the holidays. Why can’t you adapt your routine to work for you and your schedule?

Now before you start giving a million reasons why you can’t, let me give you some simple habits and things you can do to avoid that belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly. Even if you just adopt one of these habits it will make a difference.

Just don’t give up, fighting for your health is a 12 month battle …

Gain the right mentality

This seems like a gimme, but fitness is just as much of a mental battle as it is physical. If you don’t want to do something, odds are … you won’t do it. If you don’t want to stay healthy during the holidays, then you’ve already lost. So what’s the point of trying, right?

So, to avoid this, start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish between now and January 1st? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to avoid certain foods? Maybe you want to exercise or run more? Whatever your end goal is, focus on that and let your decisions from here on out guide you to that outcome.

But, also be realistic. Give yourself some wiggle room. There will be days you might not be 100% to your goal, but that doesn’t derail the whole thing. Just get back on course and go for it.

Embrace your end goal and it will guide you.

Keep your routine as intact as possible

It’s kind of difficult to maintain your exact routine during the holidays. I always try, but never am able to do it. Between the parties, obligations and activities it’s just impossible, especially when Christmas or New Years is mid-week.

The worst thing you can do is freak out and just avoid the gym or healthy eating habits. Plan around them. Maybe you might have to skip a workout or change your daily food menu? You might have to change a workout from after work to before work or vice versa.

Just keep your end goal in mind and that will drive and motivate you to stick to it. Especially when unexpected things come up … as they always do. But, keep that schedule as normal as possible. It will be an anchor for you.

Don’t cancel workouts due to inclement weather

I felt like this could be included in the previous tip, but really this is a different beast. It’s the hardest thing in the world to get home from work or get up early in the morning and have it be snowing non-stop outside and finding the motivation to go to the gym or run. Sometimes it’s down near impossible.

But, there are things you can do to avoid this. Here are just a few tips …

  • Go to the gym straight from work. This is MUCH easier than coming home, bemoan the weather and then get dressed. Just change bring a gym bag to work with you and change before the gym. Easy, easy thing to do.
  • Workout at home with the assistance of equipment. It’s a myth that you need weights and other equipment to get a great workout. Here are some good examples and routines on the internet. Google a good workout for yourself and go equipment-less when you need to.
  • You can also climb your stairs for cardio or I suppose run in place. But, I won’t lie, I’d just rather jump on the dreadmill than climb stairs.
  • You can also buy some workout videos to do at home. Richard Simmons, The Biggest Loser and some workout dance videos are some great ones to workout to. Plus, these videos help mix it up some. That’s not a bad thing.

Just don’t cancel your workout, because something is better than nothing. And, you won’t get the same satisfaction from sitting on your couch in a Snuggie cuddling with your cat while watching Elf (though it would be close).

Eat at holiday parties

Yes, eat. Food isn’t the enemy of the holidays. The real enemy is the lack of planning around holiday parties and the dinners. And, there are many tricks and ways you can keep yourself from sabotaging your fitness goals.

Here’s a brief list of some of those things you can do …

  • Plan ahead. You should know what kind of food might be at your party, so allow yourself to eat some of those things you are anticipating to be there. Then, the rest of your food and calories around that. Put it into the equation and you will be fine. Just remember serving sizes and portions. That will kill you.
  • Also, if the party is at a restaurant just plan your order before ever arriving at the restaurant. I usually plan my meal a day or so ahead. Calories count people!
  • Make sure to drink water throughout the day to avoid overeating at the party. Avoid drinking sodas, even diet, the sodium and sugar will just make you hungry. So drink water!
  • Don’t go to the party hungry. Make sure you eat something light and satisfying before the party. This will help you avoid constantly snacking trying to get to that level of contentment. That’s the danger zone.
  • Don’t be afraid to decline food. But, if you must just ask for a sample size or doggy bag. It won’t hurt people’s feelings unless it’s your Aunt Edna and her world famous pie.

Planning ahead and counting your calories before you consume them will help you stay on track to your end goal. Plus, it becomes somewhat of a game. The more you do it, the more fun it is, which means you’ll just stay on track better!

Set personal boundaries and rules on food

This expounds on what was said above. At parties, set boundaries on what you’re going to eat. Set guidelines on food and snacks that will keep you on track to your end goal.

Personally, I have many little boundaries and rules on my food, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. But, it’s exceptionally difficult during the holidays when you add yule log, sugar cookies and fruit cake to the equation.

You know what your goals are and you should know what it will take to get there. Sooooo … set those boundaries and rules and you will be fine (meaning, you won’t fall of the wagon with a box of donuts).

Don’t demonize and fret over food

There is nothing I hate more than going to a party and hearing someone say, “I know that I should be eating this, but … ” or “I can’t eat that, because it’s blah, blah, blah …” It really irks me for many reasons. For one, it’s rude to the host and two, no one wants to hear it.

Trust me, no one does.

But, even mentally don’t demonize it. We let ourselves get so emotionally connected to our food sometimes that it nearly becomes a family member. Stop looking at food as Aunt Potato Salad and Uncle Rhubarb Pie and look at it as just … food.

I can get go into more depth here, but if it’s not on your diet don’t eat it or just eat a sample size of it. Don’t fret over it because it’s a tradition or that your mother used to make it. You also don’t have to make it. Whoever said you had to make your Grandma’s pumpkin pie in order for you to remember Grandma?

You still have the memories, right? So there you go, you can remember her with those memories.

Plus, memories are calorie-free, so there’s that.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day

I’ve stated this above, but it begs to be repeated. Just drink your water throughout the day. Drink according to your goals. That might mean you’re drinking up to 96oz. a day or less than that. It’s all up to your fitness goals.

But, the one thing is to avoid soda and other drinks. Basically, don’t drink your calories. But, more than that avoid soda all together. It will just make you hungrier with all the sodium and sugar … or fake sugar for that matter. But, the calories add up in all the egg nog, cranberry fritz drinks, etc. Just avoid them.

Water will always be your friend and treat you well.

Surround yourself with awesome people

This shouldn’t be a problem during the holidays. Hopefully not. But, tell people your goal and don’t be shy about it. The more you tell people the more they will also help you stay on track. They’ll keep you honest at parties, be congitive of your dietary goals if they’re hosting and they might even join you at the gym or on a run.

So, don’t be shy, share your goal and surround yourself with positively awesome people. That way you can go into the new year with synergy and purpose.

These are just a few tips and things you can do to survive the holidays. I am sure there are MANY other tips and tricks one can do, so please add to the conversation and add your own tips in the comments below! I’d love to hear them and I am sure others would be too!

Anyways, Merry Christmas and I hope these will help you roll into 2015 without actually … literally … rolling into the new year.




  1. Laps in the 10 foot long pool? lol

    But, yes, I hate traveling with non-runners, because they don’t get my need to go run. That’s why I just need to plan vacations around races.


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