If you’re someone who typically stresses around health and fitness goals during the holidays you are in the right place. In this blog, I go over 8 tips to make the holidays healthy AND more enjoyable so you can really savor the season without the overwhelm. Let’s cover some different healthy mindsets, and bring some perspective to the holidays. None of these are hard and fast rules, just some tips and mindsets that allow you to show up feeling prepared and balanced while still honoring yourself and your goals. *If you prefer to listen, you can find this podcast episode HERE*
1. AVOID TURNING THE HOLIDAY MONTHS INTO AN ALL-OR-NOTHING CYCLE
Let’s break down the numbers into a realistic snapshot of what the “holiday season really is”. Depending on the individual, whether you have multiple family gatherings, things like Friendsgivings, work parties, etc. – you’re probably going to have around 6-10 event-style meals out of 183 meals total throughout the holiday months if you’re someone who, on average, eats 3 times per day. When you look at it with this overall perspective, it loses the all-or-nothing power the holidays tend to have on us. Eat like your normal self the rest of the time, dial in where you need to, and enjoy yourself during those meals centered around gathering and enjoyment.
2. SAY NO TO HALF OF THE ALCOHOL YOU GET OFFERED, OR HALF OF THE DRINKING OPPORTUNITIES YOU GET
Chances are, during the holidays, there’s naturally more alcohol offered around meals or get-togethers and it can be easy to let this set the tone for the two months. It can also affect your overall food choices and sleep quality during the times you are drinking. I’m not saying completely restrict it if you don’t want to, just simply saying “no” to half of the amount offered and taking a more mindful approach to alcohol intake during the holidays can really help with overall consumption and help us to still thrive during those months. Opt for fun mocktails part of the time or simply spacing out the drinks with water to help you feel better overall.
3. HAVE WHAT YOU LOVE, LEAVE WHAT YOU LIKE
I have used this mantra now for about a decade and it is so incredibly helpful. There is no shortage of treats during holiday parties, and it can be really easy to mindlessly grab and graze. Instead, really think about the treats that are nostalgic and meaningful to you. For example, my family has a tradition of making homemade eggnog, a breakfast casserole, Christmas cinnamon bread, mulled wine, and Christmas cookies every year. These are special to me, and I’m going to make sure I really enjoy and savor them as the special family traditions they are. On the flip side, think about random foods that are available, but not necessarily special to you that you tend to just pick up and graze on mindlessly simply because they’re there. If they don’t have much significance to you, pass on them and instead opt for the things that bring you so much joy, nostalgia, and comfort. The foods that make your gatherings so special.
4. THINK “MODERATION”
The skill of moderating really helps so much with having a healthy relationship with all foods, instead of black or white thinking or demonizing certain foods. This especially comes into play during the holiday months. If you approach nutrition at special gatherings with all-or-nothing thinking like “this is so bad”, “I shouldn’t have this”, “I’m going to have to work this off”, “oh my gosh I can’t believe I ate ___”, it’s going to set a cycle of restriction and guilt into motion. Instead, having things you enjoy in small amounts daily can really help bring those cyclical and unhealthy tendencies to a halt. It takes practice, and it may feel a little uncomfy at first trying to rewire those thought patterns and relax around food, but it truly is so worth it. This goes for the entire year, and is especially helpful during the holidays.
5. FOCUS ON MAINTENANCE DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Depending on how disciplined you want to be during the holidays, this may mean you just want to maintain your current habits, physique, weight, and progress. Instead of diving headfirst into goal driven decisions or rigidity, it’s totally ok to just maintain where you are while staying in motion around the habits that still serve you. Set the intention that you need, but don’t forget that simply maintaining and enjoying where you are for those specific weeks can be a really peaceful and helpful approach if you want to have a sense of balance. Set yourself up to win!
6. REMEMBER THAT SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING
I tell myself this on a daily basis, and it’s really helpful during the holiday months as well. When we try to approach things with a rigid or perfectionist mindset, this honestly does more harm than good, especially around seasons where we might be traveling or gathering more often. Doing what you can with what you have and getting creative and resourceful is going to breathe so much life back into your routines. Instead of the pass/fail mentality of “oh I can’t do my whole workout so today I failed”, think of little things that you can incorporate in. For example, I’ll set the timer to reheat my coffee and do bodyweight squats until it stops, or go for a quick 5 minute walk if I’m unable to get a full workout in. Little things that keep your habits in motion while allowing you to approach being out of routine in a healthier way can REALLY create lasting shifts for you. It’s your life and your health, and you can even make it fun and involve your friends or family.
7. IF YOU NEED TO, CUT YOUR WORKOUT IN HALF
Even if you only get 15-20 minutes of a formal workout done, you are still stimulating the muscles, you’re still keeping the habit going, and the momentum strong. Still showing up is going to serve you in such a positive way even if it’s not exactly as you planned. You can even incorporate things like a Turkey Trot, planning a one-off workout class with a family member while you’re there for fun, doing a bodyweight circuit with someone the morning of the holiday, going for a hike while you’re in the area, going skiing, etc. There’s so many options for working in movement and it doesn’t have to be a formal workout every single day of a holiday week. Getting in a few of your normal workouts sprinkled with creative and fun activities like this can really be a happy balance that gives you life instead of leaving you stressed.
8. GET SOME ACCOUNTABILITY DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Someone to help you strategize your approaches and really talk through things that may come up can be incredibly helpful during the holiday season, or just any season of life where you may need support – especially around any triggering or sensitive times. Sometimes having friends or family as your accountability can be helpful if your goals and values align, but sometimes it can be a recipe for disaster if they use it as an opportunity to validate their own limiting beliefs or unhealthy patterns with a negative approach. Even if they “mean well”. Having a coach or a mentor throughout busier seasons can be extremely helpful for your mental health and stress levels during this time. You can apply for our 1-on-1 Mountain Metabolic Coaching HERE.
No matter what you choose to incorporate from this list, I hope you are able to have a stress-free, mindful, and fun approach during such a special time of the year. Remember that this corner of the internet will always be here for you to reference and lean into, and if you want more high-touch support and accountability we are currently accepting clients and you can apply on the “FITNESS/WELLNESS” tab of this site.
Happy holidays + healthy trails!