Finding Balance During the Holidays
Its officially holiday time. Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are now 10 days deep into December. This also marks the time of year when the internet starts to tell you how to “Survive the Holidays.” Basically there are a few schools of thought on how to manage holiday season.
1. Go ape shit crazy, you deserve it! YOLO!
2. Go against the grain and start your New Year’s Resolution today. Firebomb this holiday season with discipline and self-righteousness.
3. Find a balance that allows you to enjoy important time with friends and family with out completely undercutting your fitness goals.
As you can a imagine we’re going to make a case for number three. As I’ve stated here before many obstacles in life and fitness can be overcome by creating awareness around the things that are actually holding us back and devising a plan to overcome that obstacle. In my experience there are 3 main obstacles encountered over holidays that can negatively affect our health and fitness goals.
While your social life always seems to be competing with you fitness goals, the shear volume of social events increases seemingly exponentially during the month of December. Office parties, and Christmas parties with friends and/or family all squeeze themselves on to the calendar in December. Generally these parties include free booze and plenty of poor nutritional options.
If you don’t have to spend significant time in an airport or on the road in December, consider yourself lucky. Let me just tell you there are very few “healthy” options in between Wichita Falls and Amarillo and even less in the Amarillo airport. Couple that with the fact that you are away from the gym and normal training routine and we have potential holiday landmines here.
Big Family Meals
Finally, we all love our Mom’s delicious home cooking. Unfortunately that 5 lbs of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and pie isn’t going to help our six pack, or shave a minute off our mile time.
So what’s the answer? Well first of all I’m of the opinion that you should enjoy and maybe even indulge in all of the “problems” above. Why? Because they are all part of interacting with and participating in the lives of people that are important to us. We as humans are by nature social creatures, and the effects of isolation and loneliness can be just as detrimental to our health as lack of physical activity or poor nutrition. Establishing and maintaining personal relationships is incredibly important and why the holidays should be enjoyed not stressed over. So below are some ways to mitigate the damage done by the above obstacles while still enjoying and being thankful for the time we have with our friends and family.
This is priority number one. One thing the holidays do bring is some extra time off from work, so commit to exercise 30-60 minutes 5-6 days a week. Trust me you have time. If you’re on the road go for a run, do one of our travel workouts , drop in to a CrossFit box, or even just help pops shovel snow for an hour. Exercise is the one thing you can have 100% control of during the holidays. Heck, you can even throw in some double days with Zone 1 work when you’re off from work.
Plan Workouts before and after big meals and social events
This is a simple, yet underutilized way to offset damage done by parties and big holiday meals. The post workout state simply put, allows the body to find productive uses for the calories we take in and mitigates the likelihood those calories will just be stored as fat (for a more detailed explanation of this check this article out). You should always train the day after (preferably in the morning) a big social outing or meal. While this doesn’t sound or feel appealing after a late night at the office Christmas party, it helps you mentally deal with “being uncomfortable” and not allowing that state of uncomfort to affect your training schedule. It also ensures that your training consistency is not negatively affected by social outings, and eliminates excuses from your vocabulary.
Reduce Calories outside of big meals, and parties
Counting calories has a bad a wrap and rightfully so, but it does have some advantages especially this time of the year. The important thing to remember is that calorie counting on a micro level (per meal) is largely inaccurate. So stressing about the exact number of calories you take in per meal is counter productive. However, having an idea of how many calories you’re taking in over the course of the day has benefit to overall fat loss. So on the days that you know you will take in a good amount of calories, reduce your intake by eating smaller meals earlier in the day or doing some intermittent fasting.
So there you have it! How to enjoy yourself over the holidays and not go completely off the rails! Enjoy yourself and your loved ones this month, and hopefully these tips will help you stay consistent with your training!