Healthy-Holiday Hacks

holidaysThe Holidays are here! That means lots of gatherings with lots of friends, family, food, and drink. This is a bright and cheery time, but as a trainer, I get hit with people’s concerns for the impending feasts that are about to happen.

Many people gain a few pounds during the Holiday Season. This fact isn’t alarming by itself. The problem arises when year after year, you keep accumulating a few pounds, falling out of a health and fitness routine, and ending up with related health problems.

Okay, so the Debbie-Downer bit I needed to cover is over. Now we’re going to turn this around. This DOESN’T mean you should be spending the Holiday’s obsessing over your weight. It’s a time to enjoy yourself; indulge a little; and spend quality time with the people you care about.

How do you do that while keeping your health in mind? Here are some big things to keep in mind:

Focus on Maintaining 

Even if you had some goals of losing weight, this may not be the time for that to be your main focus. There will be a lot of parties that you’ll want to enjoy and obsessing over counting all calories or feeling guilty over eating “bad” foods is going to suck the fun right out of it. Shifting your focus to maintaining your weight instead of losing can be a huge mental shift that can actually help you stay on track for your end goal of weight loss.

Lose the Guilt and Shame

The more I grow up as a trainer, the less I like hearing phrases like “Gotta earn that turkey dinner” or “I was so bad (when I ate all that food).” These phrases imply a few things that really irk me

  1. That exercise is “punishment” for being bad. Exercise is supposed to enhance your life. I believe it’s detrimental to your health to keep this mindset that exercise is penance because that mindset will keep you from having a positive experience/relationship with exercise.
  2. That you did something deserving of punishment. This is a whole can of worms that will likely be another series of blog posts in the future. The short rant is that feeling guilt or shame over how you indulged in food is going to lead to a very negative cycle. That cycle can manifest in many different forms (e.g. – extreme yo-yo dieting), but trust me, it’s usually not good.

Instead of getting into thinking you’ve been “bad” try to focus on how you’ve gotta live a little! Indulging from time to time is a part of life and you shouldn’t deprive yourself of those little joys.

Eat Like You’ve Heard of Tupperware

This one builds off the last one. If you fall into the trap of guilt and shame and “bad foods vs. good foods” you’re also likely to fall into the all-or-nothing trap. This can lead you to thinking you’ve only got this one chance to eat this way. It usually ends with you deciding to say “fuck it” and eating LITERALLY EVERYTHING because you already decided that you’re being “bad” so why not keep up the streak?

I’m sure we’ve all been there. I’ve definitely done my fair share of eating until I felt sick. When you go to these gatherings, you should keep in mind that you’re PROBABLY going to live to eat another day so you don’t need to do it all in one sitting. Stop eating when you’re full! There are always left overs and people looking to get rid of them. Break out the Tupperware and enjoy a bite of the season another day!

Focus on Small, Compounding Actions

This might be a time where your fitness and wellness routines take more of a backseat. It’s okay for fitness not to be at the forefront of your life. Is it important? Absolutely! But life happens and there are going to be shifts in the balance when other things come first.

Besides, small actions repeated frequently can have a greater impact than big actions done with no consistency. For example, does it really matter that you went to the gym for two weeks everyday for two hours in January and then…maybe four times since then? Would you maybe have better results if you did a 20 minute home workout regularly three times per week over the past year? I’m going to bet yes.

Your actions compound. If you’ve never read the book “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy, you need to. This concept is simple yet profound. You can think of it just like investing. Investing 1% of your income might seem like nothing, but over time that grows into something big when done every single paycheck.

The same is true for your wellness habits. The actions of laying in bed watching Netflix everyday versus going for a 20 minute walk everyday after dinner are going to be very different. The same is true for you during the Holidays. You don’t need to completely deprive yourself and you shouldn’t completely go off track. Find a balance!

Here are some ideas for “Small, Compounding Actions” that you can try to take over the next few weeks:

  • Have a protein source with every meal
  • Get 20-30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week
  • Sleep 7+ hours per night
  • Eat one giant portion of fibrous veggies everyday (broccoli, lettuce, peas, etc..)
  • Drink a full glass of water with every meal
  • Meditate or take 10 minutes of quiet time to manage stress

These are just a few examples of some actions you can take to help you keep your fitness in check through the Holiday Season. Write down 3-5 actions you’re going to take and make a checklist for yourself. See how many days you can take your actions over the next few weeks and what kind of impact that makes.

Take Home Message

Find that balance. Don’t drive yourself crazy! Focus on maintaining, moderation, and – most importantly – enjoying yourself!

Happy Training and Happy Holidays!

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