How to Stay on Track with Your Fitness Goals During the Holidays
Ah yes, the holidays. A favorite time for some, and a dreaded time for others. Regardless of where you stand, it can be tricky to stay on track with your fitness goals during the holidays.
Full disclaimer, I do not encourage anyone to adopt unhealthy habits during the holidays whether they be super strict or totally indulgent. The real answer is to eventually come to a healthy relationship with food and your body so that taking some time off, having a few treats, and finding a healthy balance is possible.
The below are a few pillars to help you stay on track with your fitness goals during the holidays. You can do all or one, or none. You can read it and implement the tips, or not. You can decide how committed you want to be to your fitness goals during this time (or decide to be more lax than usual).
No matter what you decide to do, you will likely come out the other side of the holidays just fine.
How to Stay on Track with Your Fitness Goals During the Holidays
Related: 8 Foods You Can Still Enjoy in Your Healthy Lifestyle
Cook your own meals
It’s always a good idea to cook your own meals and this is no different for the holidays. Many Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings are in the form of potlucks and you may not know the ingredients someone else used in their dish or if they purchased a ready-made dish.
If you’ll be attending a potluck, it’s always best to bring one or a few dishes that you have made yourself that meet your dietary requirements.
At a non-potluck gathering you can still bring a dish to share, get involved in the preparation tasks, or if the host has asked for special requests kindly make your needs known.
Be mindful of alcohol consumption
Alcoholic beverages are something that many of us enjoy during the holidays. Between hot cider and toddy’s, punch and nog there is plenty of booze to go around.
It can be easy to over consume these tasty alcoholic treats, especially over the course of a few days. Remember, you don’t need to get buzzed to overconsume.
There are plenty of non-alcoholic cocktail and nog variations which will still allow you to enjoy the beverage without all of the empty and non-nutritional calories.
If you do decide to drink, make sure to do so responsibly and try to stick with fresh ingredients (no pre-made mixes, pre-packaged, or canned ingredients).
Keep sugar intake in check
Just like empty calories from alcohol, sugar is another empty calorie offender. Sugars come at a high cost, nutritionally speaking. This is why the milky way candy bar has more calories than a bar of dark chocolate.
However, even if you know that sugars aren’t good for you (duh), it can still be hard to not indulge. So, stick with desserts made from natural sources of sugar like maple syrup, dates, or coconut sugar and try to avoid processed sugars. Better yet, make your desserts with sweeteners like stevia if you don’t mind the flavor profile.
Sugar is one of those ingredients that is totally addictive. There have been numerous studies that show that the consumption of sugar lights of the same areas of the brain as cocaine use. So this is some powerful stuff.
If you have a good handle on sugar and can self regulate, then have at it! I’ve been known to enjoy a few cookies and slices of pie and keep it at one serving.
Related: 10 Outdoor Activities That Are Great Workouts
Move your body
The holidays can be a much needed respite for many of us who get by with only a few vacation days each year.
However, this should be a time to focus on taking care of you! It can be tricky to make yourself workout when your regular routine has changed, but it will do you loads of good to make sure you move your body each day.
If you’re not in your usual environment to workout, take this time to have some fun and try different workouts. Maybe you can go for a walk or run, try a new type of fitness video, or do another fun activity.
It’s okay to release the expectation that you’ll be doing your regular workouts. Just do what you can because something is always better than nothing. And have fun with it!
Get enough rest
The temptation to totally fall into a backwards sleeping schedule is so real. You might not have to go in to work, you may be catching up with friends and family, and this may throw off your sleep schedule.
While there is nothing wrong with the occasional late night (because you should totally enjoy the holidays), try to maintain awareness about your sleeping habits.
Are you becoming more of a night owl? Are you scrolling in bed more? Do you have a harder time falling asleep? Are you getting disrupted sleep?
Notice anything that is off and do your best to get as much quality sleep as possible.
Plan your days
Many of us are home from school and off of work. YES! Now that the structure has been taken out of our days, we may fall into some unhealthy habits.
Take a lazy day (or a few) if you need to recover, but don’t let it take over and become the norm for your holiday.
Instead, plan your days. Yes, even your lazy days. At the beginning of your holiday break decide how many lazy days you’ll take and when you’ll bring some structure back into your day.
You don’t need to get crazy by scheduling every minute of every day (it is, afterall, a break), but at least have a loose and general idea of what you’ll be doing each day.
Related: Clean Keto Pumpkin Pie
Allow yourself to indulge
Food is a central part of holiday celebrations. We gather around food, we make food, we share food, we eat food, and we enjoy food.
There is no reason to be obsessively counting macros or weighing food on Thanksgiving day or on Christmas. A few days of indulgence throughout the year will not ruin your fitness progress.
Give yourself a mental break and just enjoy the day, the food, and the people.
Show yourself grace
The holidays can be tough. Between family demands, a plethora of food, and personal expectations this can be a very stressful time for people.
Show yourself some grace. If things don’t go according to plan, it’s okay.
If you ate one too many cookies, it won’t throw off your fitness goals during the holidays.
If you get a buzz, it won’t throw off your fitness goals during the holidays.
If you eat something and you’re not sure if it’s clean or healthy, it won’t throw off your fitness goals during the holidays.
Sure, your body might look a little different after the holidays and that’s okay. Staying on track with your fitness goals during the holidays should not be stressful. Enjoy the time you have with family and friends, and get back on track as soon as you can.
I love this advice, especially cooking at home. It really does makes such a difference!
Great post! I love how you included the need to show yourself grace. That’s important! I also appreciate your point about watching sugar intake and to not stop moving. Great tips! 🙂
Yes, Lisa! Keep that body moving 🙂
The pandemic is already incredibly difficult to accomplish your fitness goals. I love your tips to keep things simple during the holiday!
I appreciate your advice on how to stay on track with fitness goals during the holidays. I especially love your approach that we can indulge in some treats here and there without feeling guilty – and without going completely off the rails! In the past, I used to think I could take the holiday months completely off from a healthy lifestyle, which led to regret. Now I approach the holidays very differently, without anxiety, shame, or regret. I enjoy seasonal treats without guilt and also don’t put an overall healthy lifestyle on pause. It’s a good balance!
So happy to hear that you have found such great balance for yourself!
Laura - livelybylaura.com
The last two are so important. It’s easy to make yourself feel bad about indulging, but you need to give yourself grace on the holidays, especially in 2020! Thanks for sharing!
That’s exactly right, Laura!
This is very valuable. I’m glad I came across your blog 🙂
Glad you’re here!
Ugh, I totally believe that sugar is like cocain to the brain! Thank you for these tips, I’ll keep them in mind as we get closer to Christmas!
Best of luck 🙂
This is great advice. Sugar is my weakness, and this time of year is difficult. These tips will be helpful. Thanks.
This time of year is so tough. I’ve found that once I kick the sugar habit it’s pretty easy to maintain, but the moment I have a bite of processed sugar it’s all over and I’m back on the cycle. It really is a powerfully addictive drug.
These are great tips! I always seem to get off track during the holidays, especially with the sugar consumption!
Needful content! Keep creating content like this.Tons of love for you.
Glad you found it helpful.
From Halloween through the new year it’s a sugar bonanza. It does help to stick with natural sources of sugar. And I always make sure to eat a balanced meal before dessert so that I don’t over eat the sugars.
Moving and showing myself grace are the only ways I stay healthy during the holidays. If I can keep doing those things, I am in a lot better shape by the end of the holiday season.
Right there with you, Sarah!
Good ideas. I follow some already. Great blog
That’s so great to hear!
Great tips! Thank you so much for being so reasonable – some posts tell us we shouldn’t enjoy our food over the holidays. But it’s such an important part of so many celebrations! There’s lots of things we can do to feel a little healthier but at the end of the day it’s Christmas and food guilt doesn’t help anyone. Thanks for sharing!
Having been through it all, from little knowledge of nutrition to a strict bodybuilding diet I have learned that the only sustainable way is to be reasonable with yourself.
So true on all points. That rest is hard to find at times. I also like walking my pooch for fun. Great article.
Yes, sometimes walking the dog is pure bliss
Thanks for sharing this. I’ve recently gotten off track with my fitness during quarantine so these are really good reminders for getting back into it and staying on track over the next month.
Cooking own meals is a def challenge with all the food which come with the holidays + ubereats and food panda 🙈
I think it helps that a lot of the food around the holidays is homemade and made with whole ingredients. Those delivery services, though, are tough
Cindy Mom, the Lunch Lady
I’ve been worrying about this. I hate working out in front of people and always wait for my SO to leave for work, before I start exercising. He’s going to be off for 2 weeks at Christmas, so am trying to devise a plan as to how to keep working out without him interrupting me (the few times I worked out when he was home, he’d come in a oogle me…. flattering but seriously? haha). I love all your tips on how to stay on track!
Maybe get him in on the workouts!
I think this is exactly what I needed to read going into the holiday season. Great advice. I’ll have them in the back of my head all December long.
I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂
Paper Mint Books
Definitely need to keep track of the sugar intake and move my body, lol. This post is a great reminder as I plan on getting back on my workout routine tomorrow. Great post
So glad to hear it!
I definitely have a sugar/carb problem which is why I have gained so much weight and can’t seem to get it off. I’m trying to do a balance check everyday of my macros. Do you know what’s a good percent/g intake that someone could shoot for for carbs?
Hi Shala, those carbs and sugars are so tough. The CDC recommends sugars to be less than 10% of total calories. Personally, I stay away from processed sugars as much as possible and stick with natural sources of sugars. As far as carbs, the CDC says it really depends on your body.
I love the idea of planning out your day, even when not working. This would really help me achieve my goals. Thanks so much for the inspiration!
I find planning to be super helpful on my days off. It doesn’t need to be anything too crazy, but it feels good to not let the day slip by.
The pandemic changed our lives. The most important thing is to stay healthy💚 Helpful tips !
Things are a bit different this holiday season, so I’m happy you found this post helpful with staying on track with your fitness goals.
great tips thank you dear
Glad you found it helpful!
A Capone Connection
These suggestions are so on point! You are EXACTLY right about bringing a dish that you know you can eat and is healthy. That’s what I frequently have to do. Thanks for all of the excellent ideas. I need to plan things out more!
I find planning to be super helpful, and that includes knowing what I’m going to eat/cook 🙂
Being mindful and regulating sugar intake is probably the toughest one in this period but planning ahead certaily helps. Thanks for the tips!
Glad you found it helpful!
This was well needed!! The holidays are always a time when I slack on my physical health! I really like your point about taking time to rest! It is so important for physical and mental health! Thanks for sharing!
You’re so welcome 🙂