Your Holiday Fitness Strategy

Alas, it’s the time of year where every fitness person known to man gives you advice on how not to over indulge during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’ve read articles that cover everything from making your holiday meal low fat or low carb to skipping it all together.  My opinion has always remained the same: Enjoy yourself.  It’s the holidays.

But that doesn’t mean that drinking a quart of egg nog every day from now until January 1st is the best game plan.  Certainly at our age, packing on pounds gets easier and easier, while getting it off gets harder and harder. So with that in mind, I’ve made a quick list of some guidelines you can follow to be happy AND healthy throughout the rest of your year.

Don’t stress about it.

The first thing you need to do is relax.  4347213145_bec129a6ae_zOften times, we get worked up about holiday parties and the inevitable temptations. If you’re serious about staying in decent shape year round, it’s difficult to imagine an entire month of snacks and treats. Also, planning for family can be a stressful time.  Even if you are not attending many parties, you likely have guests coming in town.  Cooking and bringing food with you will be much tougher while entertaining family.  And if you’re like me, you go wherever your group wants, regardless of the type of the food.  So if the group wants Mexican food, burritos it will be.  These are all factors that add to your stress level, which raises cortisol and stalls your body’s ability to burn fat. It’s important to remember you can not change these factors, so there is no point in stressing about it.  Your family is coming no matter what.  You can’t skip work parties.  And you shouldn’t put your Christmas social calendar on hold because there is going to be cake.

Do look at your calendar and attempt to plan treat meals which coordinate with parties or planned events.

If you have two meals in a week instead of one, it will be ok.  You will survive.  You are not going to do any serious damage in the way of pounds to your body, unless you decide to go off course every day for the entire month of December.  Typically, you probably have treat meals scheduled on the same day each week. During the holidays, your social calendar will inevitably ramp up.  Add each event to your calendar and plan your upcoming treat meals correspondingly.  I don’t recommend attempting to eat broccoli and chicken while your co-workers chow down on quiche and cheesecake.  Plan accordingly, and make the appropriate changes to best fit your lifestyle within the scope of the many holiday parties and obligations.

Don’t make your friends and family miserable by mentioning your plight nonstop.

When someone offers you something that you don’t want simply say, “No thanks.” There is zero reason to say that you can’t because you’re following such and such diet and you’re SO worried about gaining weight and blah blah blah.  Probably, you’re the thinnest person in that conversation so for that reason alone, no one wants to hear it.   I never understand why people feel the need to talk about their current diet situation. It’s one thing to have a goal that you’re proud of and tell your close friends and family.  It’s another to make sure every person within ear shot range knows you are doing low carb.  So annoying. Knock it off.

Do feel fine saying no to drinks and food offered.

You aren’t being rude and you should not feel obligated.  Once you decline something, many people will pressure you further. It makes people feel better about their decision if you do it too.  It’s ok to continue to say no. It’s their problem not yours.  And when it comes to parties, if you’ve decided not to drink, have your bartender put water in a wine glass or garnish it with a lime.  No one will ask what it is, and there will be zero pressure for you to drink.

Don’t weigh yourself.

If your holiday eating strategy is going to be to enjoy yourself but not go off the rails, then there is a chance you will gain a small amount of weight.   You should accept that your enjoyment of the holidays is worth it and not stress about it.  There is no reason to get on the scale, unless you’re indulging every single day and need to get yourself in check.

Do treat yourself to a nice Christmas dress or something fun to wear on New Year’s and keep it in mind all month long.

Knowing you have something fabulous to wear at the end of the month is a great motivation for staying on the wagon. If need be, try it on each week to remind yourself how great you look in it and keep your motivation going.

Don’t think that going crazy on the alcohol is better than doing it with food.

While there are less calories in two shots of tequila than a slice of chocolate cake, alcohol has a much longer lasting effect on your body.  Boozing the entire month of December is an easy way to pack on pounds and start your new year looking and feeling like crap.  Additionally, specialty Christmas cocktails are usually loaded with sugar laden liqueurs, sugar rims, milk, chocolate, egg nog, or other dessert like fillers. Drink two of those, and you may as well have eaten a meal.

Do plan out the nights you want to have some cocktails and drink plenty of water.

Drink slowly, as over consumption often happens due to drinking too fast.  Also, skip a large meal before a night of drinking.  You will drink less if you do.

Don’t make a dinner that is low carb or low fat or insist other people do so in order to accommodate you.

Yes, if it’s your dinner, then you are allowed to do whatever you please.  But as I’ve stated, this is a time to enjoy yourself.  If there is one day in the month of December that you should allow yourself to do that, then December 25th is it. You’ve either been eating like crap all month and one more day isn’t going to make the difference, or you’ve been eating good all month and taking a day off isn’t going to make a difference.  Either way, you might as well eat whatever you want.  And asking other people to accommodate those pointless diet demands, is dumb and irritating.  If you’re going to someone’s house, eat the food they provide and be thankful.

Do slave in the kitchen and make every dish as decadent as you desire!

I’m often told my green bean casserole is the best ever;  the secret is extra cheese and butter! Instead of trying to survive the holidays, choose to thrive in the holidays! It’s a time to enjoy family, reflect on your year, drink, eat and be merry. Enjoy yourself and let go of any guilt. You deserve it.

Photo credit: HarshLightShari’s BerriesMichael Clesle

Lea Waide

Lea is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of BeyondThirty.net.  She is a former professional dancer and IFBB fitness competitor, triathlete and all around fitness and beauty aficionado. Her passion is sharing her knowledge with women beyond the age of thirty, who are looking to continue to feel beautiful and fabulous.

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