How to Maintain a Fitness Plan Over the Holidays
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but that doesn’t mean it makes following a diet and workout plan any easier. In fact, navigating the holidays can prove to be quite a feat. But, with a few tips and tricks in your arsenal, it can be done.
Write Out Your Goals
You’ve been staying on track all year and now is not the time to let that all come crashing down. But, with the holidays notorious for busyness, all sorts of temptations, and weight gain, how do you keep this from happening? Well, there are some great strategies you can use, and it starts with knowing what you want.
Start by writing out your goals along with how far you’ve come and what these goals mean to you. You might want to carry this piece of paper around with you, too, so you can refresh your memory any time you’re tempted to go off track and derail yourself.
Have a Plan
Don’t just try to wing it through these holiday weeks. Instead, have a plan and stick to it. For example, if you know family’s coming to visit and you won’t be able to get away, devise a plan to get around roadblocks. Can you wake up earlier and fit in a quick walk? Can you do a bodyweight workout at home or a quick banded workout without having to take time out to go to the gym?
If you’re at a social gathering, stake out the healthy options. Park yourself near the veggie tray or grab some leaner protein options. Stick with non-alcoholic, calorie-free, or lower calorie drinks. You can also water things down, for example, by adding sparkling water to your wine for an easy and lower-calorie spritzer.
Fill up with a healthy meal before you leave the house, so you’ll be less tempted to scarf down everything in sight.
Lastly, plan your diet around the festivities and allow yourself to enjoy the indulgence. Eat healthfully—focusing on nutrient-rich, filling foods—all week and then when the party hits, let yourself have a few treats that you’ve been looking forward to. The next day, you’re right back on track as usual: no harm, no foul.
Enlist Others to Join You
If you really want to get your training in and you have family in town, why not bring them along to the gym for the fun? It will be exciting for them to see where you spend your time, and you’ll get to show off what you’ve been doing and introduce them to friends at the gym. You might even encourage another family member to follow in your footsteps and get fit.
Join a Challenge
Joining a fitness challenge can make a huge difference in the success of your goals. If you can find a challenge that spans the holiday season, you’ll have a built-in group of friends dealing with the same challenges you are. Enlist the help of others and support and encourage the folks on your team. It’s a win-win regardless.
Make Yourself Accountable
Putting it out there that you are sticking to your diet and exercise goals over the holiday season can also help you stay on track. Share your plans with someone you don’t want to let down. Or, schedule something like a photo shoot, fitness contest, or beach vacation right after the holidays to encourage and motivate yourself to stick to your fitness plans.
Getting an accountability partner who shares in your holiday health goals can help you stay on track as well. You can support each other so you don’t feel alone with your goals and share strategies to make it through challenges.
Eating Strategies for Parties and Festivities
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for you if your goal is to stay the course during these few months will be navigating parties and gatherings. Most festivities will revolve around food and drink, and this is typically the time when the most high-fat, high-calorie drinks and goodies are served. Some aspects of your plan might include:
- Focus on socializing and catching up with friends and family instead of on the food and drink being served.
- Eat a healthy meal before attending social events because if you go in hungry, chances are good you’ll find yourself grabbing foods you ultimately don’t want to eat (and may not even enjoy).
- Review your goals and your whys before you leave the house to keep your mind in the right place and your focus strong.
- Wear a fitted outfit, showing off your progress thus far and reminding yourself that you want to keep that progress.
- Stay hydrated with plenty of water before and during your time at the gathering, and aim for low and non-calorie choices during the day.
- Bring a dish you’ve prepared to the gathering, so you have something healthy that you love to eat and share. That will help prevent you from feeling left out but will also help you resist unhealthy choices. Some of our favorite appetizers, main dishes, and desserts include:
Get Involved with Serving Others
Now is a great time to take the focus off yourself and put it on serving others. When you’re in the middle of a project that’s making the holidays great for other families, you won’t have the mental down time to obsess over what you’re not eating. It also might help you to feel grateful that you have the ability and means to exercise and eat healthy as both of these are truly a privilege not everyone has. There are many organizations where you can give or serve, like putting together packages for families in need. A few to consider are:
- Samaritan’s Purse
- Angel Tree
- Salvation Army
- Trees for Troops
Of course, there are many more. Check your local area to see what others are available.
Stay (or Get) Active
Staying active during the holiday season can be your ultimate secret weapon when it comes to not derailing all your great progress from the year. Try to continue on your normal workout regimen. Or, if time is tight or you are traveling, try to fit in at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, and when possible, two full-body weight training sessions a week. This will at least keep you in the game so you won’t lose the progress you’ve made in the gym in terms of muscle gains and cardiovascular fitness.
Aim to Maintain
The holiday season may not be the time to strive for giant strides forward in your fitness. This can be a great time to scale things back a bit and give your body some much needed rest and recovery. You may want to focus on some super high rep workouts instead of trying to break weightlifting records. Or, you may scale back to full body workouts, HIIT instead of long cardio sessions, or try some yoga or Pilates classes for a change.
Get Your Steps In
If you can’t find time to do anything else because your schedule just gets too hectic, at least try to maintain 10,000 steps a day. Getting in this minimal activity can at least help your body stay on the path to fitness, even if everything else is in celebration mode.
At the end of the day, while it may not be “easy” or always “comfortable” to maintain a fitness plan over the holidays, it is achievable. Tap into the support, extra motivational factors, and solid planning to help you stay on track this season. Plus, it’ll give you a head start on your New Year’s Resolutions.