For many people, the holiday season can be a time of fun, excitement, parties. It can also really wreck your hard won fitness progress, weight loss, strength gains, and the healthy lifestyle changes you’ve been making. Here’s a short list of suggestions to help stay on track during this stressed out consumption-crazy time of year.
1. Value your sanity. Remember, its OK to say no – you don’t have to attend EVERY party. If you’re not getting enough “recharge” time, and feel pulled in several directions at once, give yourself a quiet moment to sort it out. Check your breathing – if you’re getting stressed out you might be breathing in a shallow, panicked way – stop and slow it down, breathe down to your belly. This past weekend I explained crocodile breathing (mentioned by Andrea Du Cane at the Ageless Body Workshop and also demonstrated at the CK-FMS workshop) to a friend to help her cope
with stress. It’s a great way to just “reset” too. No matter what, make sure to schedule in some downtime – for relaxing activities like tai chi, qigong, yoga or just a quiet moment with a favorite book. Likewise think about sneaking in just a 15 minute workout here and there.
2. Lay off the booze, or limit your consumption. Not only can it goof up your judgement in social situations (my college girl neighbor had a green sharpie mustache drawn on her at some point last weekend, when I saw her in the laundry room I could barely contain my laughter), consuming too much alcohol (and don’t forget it has calories too) can lead to really bad food choices. Greasy, bready late night pizza, fast food, and other things you’d done so well to avoid are chomped down without a thought after too many rum & cokes, vodka redbulls, jager shots or whatever it is you crazy kids are drinking these days. If you must imbibe, keep it to red wine and get some antioxidants while you’re at it.
3. Think of healthy activities friends and family can do together – my parents and I typically take a nice long walk after the big holiday meals, while most everyone else passes out in a food coma (we’ve also avoided the sugars and starches too, amusingly enough). But something active – it doesn’t have to be anything crazy like skydiving (though that could be an interesting choice), but ice skating, etc. Even just walking around somewhere cool – indoors or outdoors.
4. Healthy alternatives to heavy meals, and how to avoid dietary disaster. Since I eat mostly Primal and/or Paleo-ish its pretty easy to stay on track during these holiday meals, if you can show a little discipline. Things to avoid: heavy rich sauced casseroles of mystery (they’re usually chock full of processed foods, refined flours and possibly sugars), bready and starchy items like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese (I wasn’t kidding about the discipline part). My plate usually has a generous portion of whatever meats are presented (mmm turkey, roast beef, ham, etc.) and simply prepared veggies (I’ll offer to bring one or more if I think there might be few options). I might sneak a small piece of pie and a cup of black coffee. Alternately instead of mashed potatoes you can serve some of the alternatives like the parsnip mash in the Primal Blueprint Cookbook, or roasted veggies like on my chart. A nice big salad with a big variety of things like nuts, olives, seeds etc on top is usually welcome at any gathering, and you can use that to make a nice plate of meat and salad – something I love to eat anyway.
5. Remember, short and intense workouts count too! Don’t worry about making a long drive to the gym and back – especially if you have house guests. Now’s the time to be thankful that you can sneak off to a back room with your kettlebell, gymboss timer, TRX, or just YOU and get in a great workout with basic powerful moves like the kettlebell swing, the get up, pushups, pull ups (if possible), TRX rows, suspended pushups, planks etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on – don’t tempt me I may make up a whole series of traveling holiday workouts – leave a comment on this page if that appeals to you. Likewise if you’re traveling on an airplane you may wish to leave the kettlebell at home and just take your TRX and door anchor, or just your gym boss. Before traveling sometimes I’ll review where I am in my Convict Conditioning progressions and write up a week of new workouts that I can do ANYWHERE and still progress in my strength, balance, coordination etc. If you aren’t that creative, remember… you can ALWAYS do burpees!
This was supposed to be a list of 5, but… I have to break the rules sometimes. So here’s suggestion #6!
6. Don’t forget to eat! When there’s a lot of extra activity, unusual schedules, extra people around with their different schedules (and eating habits) its easy to overeat, but its ALSO very easy to forget to eat, or get stuck in a situation where you’re having to skip a meal. This can force you into eating stuff you really don’t want to eat. So, pack along some snacks! No matter where I am, I’ve usually got SOMETHING with me, might be a (not so) little bag of raw organic mixed nuts, or a Larabar, or jerky (current fave – Ostrim ostrich and beef jerky, any flavor), or Tanka Bars are incredible too – real buffalo and cranberry! Things that are a “little weird” might also help to keep relatives from stealing your stash of snacks too. Sometimes I’ll sneak along a couple of blender bottles with just the dry ingredients of a protein shake inside – just add water and you’re good!
So those are my tips – do you have any to share? Leave some comments! Everything that isn’t spam gets approved! 🙂