The Holiday Season is once again here and while it is definitely the most wonderful time of the year, for us fitness enthusiasts it can bring about some anxiety about how exactly to navigate all of those parties and delicious treats. Outlined below are 5 strategies that you can use to help alleviate some of the holiday stress while also holding onto your fitness goals so that you can go into this Holiday Season with confidence!
- Prioritize movement.
When it comes to maintaining your fitness and nutrition throughout the holidays, our number one recommendation is to continue your workout routine! Prioritizing movement will not only help mitigate the extra holiday calories, it will also make sure that you are maintaining all of that fitness you have been working so hard for over the last year. Not to mention, it will also make getting back into the swing of things that much easier when January finally rolls around–you will be less sore and still locked into your routine. If you need to make adjustments try lowering your intensity during a WOD, rather than skipping it all completely. You can also add in extra movement to make sure you are feeling great throughout the next two months. Walking is a fantastic way to help burn some extra calories, take a break from being constantly bombarded by food, and boost your mood! You can also encourage (and inspire!) your family to get some movement in with a pick-up football or soccer game. If it’s too cold to get out on a walk try getting in some mobility work or foam rolling while you are watching your favorite Holiday movie. Prioritizing movement no matter what should be your number one goal amidst the holiday craziness and will help you feel great once January rolls around!
- Fill-up on protein, vegetables, and fruit first.
When it comes to holiday eating, protein is king! Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and also the macronutrient that we should be prioritizing as athletes in order to build muscle. With this, sit down with a plate of lean protein, vegetables, and fruit first, and then go back for your grandma’s famous loaded mashed potatoes. Sitting down with a healthier plate first will help you fill up on nutrient dense foods while also allowing you to enjoy those holiday treats!
- Have parameters around the treats you eat.
Taking a little bit of time to reflect ahead of a celebratory meal (or holiday season) about what you are going to eat will pay off exponentially in the long run and save you tons of calories. This goes for both the big celebratory meal, and also the entire holiday season. If we aren’t careful, one holiday rolls into the next holiday and we are constantly making and eating treats. This can be mitigated by taking some time before a meal to think about what you actually want to eat and what treats you truly want to indulge in. For example, given the choice between pumpkin pie or berry pie at Thanksgiving, we would choose neither! So just because it is offered to us does not mean we are going to eat it, because we don’t really like it that much. Alternatively, put some cream cheese pumpkin bars on the counter and we are IN. Knowing what you want to eat and what you actually truly enjoy will help you avoid the “eating it because it is there” mentality and make sure you use the calories for something you actually love! You can set up similar parameters in your house throughout the holiday season, both on what you have in the house as well as how long you keep those treats around. We never buy ingredients for Puppy Chow because we would eat the whole bowl, but we will indulge in a serving (or two) when we are with family. Similarly, two days after the holiday if there are still treats in the house it’s time for them to be given to a neighbor, put in the staff room at work, or frozen for a later time. It’s just a plain fact that if it is in the house you will eventually eat it. So, take some time to really think through the treats you absolutely love, the treats you can pass on, and what treats can be in your household and for how long.
- Eat three meals a day focusing on lean protein, vegetables and fruit.
Oftentimes we choose to skip breakfast or lunch (or both) to try and compensate for what we might eat at a party that night, but that can leave us starving, lacking energy and end up causing us to way over indulge when dinner finally rolls around. Instead, try to get in at least three square meals a day focusing on lean protein, vegetables and fruit. This will ensure a few things. One, it will make sure that you are properly fueled and will make sure that you have energy to still get a workout in. Two, it will make sure that you are getting adequate protein, micronutrients, and fiber throughout the day which frees you up to enjoy those treats at dinner all the more. Three, it will keep your nutrition and meal prepping habits on track, so that when the holiday season is over it’s like you never missed a beat!
While we do recommend taking some time to reflect on your fitness and nutrition goals and deciding what your holiday season will look like accordingly, it’s important to remember that life is more than counting macros and how much you can deadlift. Food is something that we celebrate with. It’s cultural, carries emotion, comforts us, and is a part of our celebrations. Do your best to have discipline around your fitness and nutrition when you can, so that when the holiday parties roll around you can loosen your belt and truly enjoy them with freedom!