Cutey fruity turkey my
kiddos and I made
It's the start of Thanksgiving week and I'm sitting at my kitchen counter up to my eyeballs in paperwork: To-do lists, shopping lists, recipes, menus, invitations. The holiday season is about to start and I'm feeling pumped! The half-dozen weeks of festivities, excitement, and goodwill that start with Thanksgiving and don't end until we've brought in the New Year are always my favorite time of year. I love the music, the food and the knowledge that at this time of year it's socially acceptable to put glitter on absolutely anything.
The one thing I don't love about the holiday season is that I often lose sight of my personal fitness goals for a good month and a half. And that is a loooong time to set aside what I typically value enough to dedicate time to day-in and day-out the rest of the year. The past two years I've tested out a few strategies to find a better balance between enjoying the holidays and making continued progress on my fitness goals. So here is My Number One Best Strategy To Enjoy the Holiday Season and Simultaneously Make Progress on Your Fitness Goals (that would sound so much more fun if it were written in gold glitter.)
Embrace this truth: When we think of our nutrition and training in all-or-nothing terms, we often end up with nothing. That is especially true at this time of year. If we are super ridged in our mindset of what success looks like for any given day and unwilling to give ourselves a break, we often just give up. This example will hopefully make clear what I mean: Let's say you usually go to the gym 3-4 times a week to workout. Maybe you take a certain class or follow a specific routine and you're there about an hour each time. Now it's December 5th and you haven't made it even once so far this month. You've been busy and don't see that letting up anytime soon. There's no way you have the hour and a half it takes to get to the gym, train and get back home. So you think to yourself "January 1st I'll get right back on it," and continue on with your busy day. All or nothing. Either 1 1/2 hours to workout as usual or wait until the holidays are over.
But aren't there loads of other choices in between? What about 30 minutes at the gym? What about a 15 minute bodyweight circuit at home? What about going outside and doing intervals for 30 minutes? Heck, what about running up and down your stairs for 10 minutes? Something isn't nothing. Consistency is so important to success in fat loss and/or muscle gain. A little bit less exercise over the course of the holiday season is still loads better than waiting until January to do things "right."
It is the same with nutrition. After a few parties we might be tempted to just think "Ugh, so many calories. I've messed up so much at this point, and there're still many more events coming up. I'll get back to my healthy eating on January 2nd." We just gave ourselves liscense to go hog-wild for weeks! It's so counter-productive to our success. I tried eating the same way I do every other day of the year last December; focused on lots of water, vegetables and lean protein. Then at holiday events I enjoyed the things that were important to me. Rolls and butter with Thanksgiving dinner? Yes, absolutely. Random tray of store-bought cookies at a caroling party? No, thank you. It's not about all or nothing for me this holiday season. It's about keeping as many good habits in place as possible, enjoying every second of the indulgences I choose to take and being ok with the "not-perfect, but not-nothing either" results that brings. Happy Thanksgiving! I'd love to hear fom you- what strategies do you use to enjoy the holidays and stay committed to your personal fitness goals as well?
I'm a NASM certified personal trainer who is passionate about helping women transform their bodies through strength training and sustainable nutritional habit changes.