A Holiday Season Where You Don’t Get Off Track

I bet you’re expecting tips to stay on your diet and exercise game during the holiday season. There’s some at the bottom, but what I want to encourage you to do is to enjoy your holiday. Your diet will slip. You will miss a few workouts. Its fine.

Its fine if get back to your diet and exercise plan after your holiday is over. Its not fine if you spend Thanksgiving to New Years eating and drinking whatever you want while cutting back on all your activity. We fall into that trap so often. Its because we don’t plan to take the time off of our diet and exercise that will happen no matter how strict we try to be. We all think we’re much more disciplined than we are, so we go into the holidays with a plan that we’re going to eat healthy and hit all our workouts. Do you have a plan for when that fails?

For most people, there really isn’t much point in trying to stick to what has been working during the holidays. You’re likely traveling, eating food you haven’t prepared yourself, foods you may have been avoiding entirely, while being pressured by friends and family to stray from your diet. You’re busier, and every workout is time away from family and friends that are the focus of the holiday. Its like you were set up to fail here, and most people do. Be realistic about whats going to happen, and plan for that.

So you can plan to take some time off. If you’re gone for a week around Christmas, a few missed workouts and some less than ideal meals are no big deal. I wouldn’t want more than a week to go by like this, but most vacations aren’t longer than that anyway. If you do go on a two (or more) week vacation, pick the week in the middle where the most challenge is going to be for healthy eating and exercise, and take that week off. Knowing you have a week off will make eating healthy and exercising at the beginning or end of your trip that much more bearable.

The key thing here is to get right back into your plan as soon as the holiday season is over. If you aren’t visiting family on December 27th, you shouldn’t be eating like you are! If you can get back into it, missing a week is going to be unnoticable in the long run. Here’s some tips to get you back into it after a holiday break.

  1. Have something healthy ready for the first few days back from vacation while you’re readjusting. Its going to be busy – unpacking, catching up on work, writing thank you notes – so its going to be easy to slip into getting quick, unhealthy meals. Freeze a few of your favorite healthy meals, or premake something the night you get back for the next few days. I like baking chicken breast in the oven and throwing some brown rice in a rice cooker – 5 minutes of prep, and about 45 minutes later i can have 6-8 meals ready to be put in storage containers for the next few days. Its not exciting, but its super easy and healthy. Keeping nuts around to snack on is another easy, healthy option.
  2. Have a workout planned the day after you get back. It doesn’t have to be long, or even hard. It is incredibly important that you do it though. If you hit this workout, you’ll already be getting back into it. If you skip it, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. It might help to schedule your whole day after you get back before you even leave for your trip.
  3. Get in workouts when you can on vacation. I know I said not to worry, but if there’s an hour or so where you’re bored, invite someone on a quick 20-minute run, or suggest a sport. Touch football is a fun Thanksgiving activity that can serve as a workout. Skiing at Christmas is great if your family is into that, and nordic skiing is great cardio. Its easier to get back into your workout plan if you haven’t been completely sedentary – you’ll feel better overall, too.
  4. Write your plan out somewhere visible. A monthly calendar or a post it note on a fridge, somewhere you look frequently, should have a note on it to workout on the date you get back. This helps remind you that it is important to complete that workout, and your pre-vacation self expects it of you.

Being realistic with our expectations is important. We didn’t suddenly develop the willpower to eat healthy this Christmas when we didn’t have it last year, so lets be real and just accept it. If we do that, we can plan for it, and still have a positive outcome.