The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone committed to health or fitness goals. It may sound easy to say ‘no’ in theory. But in practice, when you’re sitting around the Christmas dining table surrounded by all your favorite food, saying ‘no’ is a little harder.
While it’s important to give yourself a break now and again, oftentimes, the holidays can cause you to backtrack on all the progress you’ve made throughout the year. Instead of a day off, you end up taking weeks off. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s you’re eating too much, drinking too much, and skipping your workouts. It doesn’t leave you feeling great.
At WOLFpak we understand that you’ve got big goals. That’s why it’s our mission to help you achieve them. Whether it’s through our meal management systems or gym backpacks, or sharing fitness advice online - we want to help you become your best.
Here’s some advice on how to stick to your diet and exercise routine around the holidays.
1. Workout in the middle of the day
It’s colder in the mornings and darker in the evenings, which can make it hard to be motivated to workout. Shifting your workout time to the middle of the day, perhaps during your lunch break at work, can help you stay motivated and consistent in your workouts. In fact, working out in the middle of the day has benefits.
2. Remember why you started
With all things in life, motivation comes and goes. But like all things in life, remembering why you started and why you want this can help to realign you. Start with the why. Why did you start your health and fitness journey? What are you hoping to gain? What kind of person do you want to be? Use that as fuel to keep pushing in the face of temptation.
3. Be realistic
If you’re attempting to stick to your six workouts-a-week and meal prepped chicken and broccoli throughout the holidays, you’re bound to fall short. It’s better to adopt a realistic approach. You’re probably going to eat Christmas food with your family, so it’s better to be prepared for this by making a healthy alternative or making sure you don’t binge.
Being too aggressive with your expectations can result in a lack of motivation, pressure and falling off the bandwagon. Be realistic. Adjust your routine, commit to the change, and be consistent.
4. Go for walks
Chill walks after Thanksgiving lunch with the whole family is a great way to keep your non-exercise activity thermogenesis high, to help you digest your food and keep your metabolic rate elevated. Even though it may be tempting to take a nap on the sofa, getting outside and staying active can be a great bonding moment with your family and can help you stay on track in your fitness journey.
5. Do what you enjoy
You deserve a break around the holidays. But that doesn’t have to mean skipping your workout to binge Netflix. Do what you enjoy. If you enjoy hiking, trade in your lifting session for a hike with the family. One of the best hacks for sticking to a workout plan is to do what you enjoy, and focus on that when you feel your motivation wearing.
6. Workout with your family or a friend
If you’re really struggling to stay committed to your diet or workout plan during the holidays, get a fitness buddy to join you. You can set up a little bit of healthy competition between you and use your workouts as a chance to enjoy each other's company and stick to your goals.
As well as being a fun, positive experience, it can also help you work off some of the extra calories you’re consuming throughout the holiday period. In fact, a study published in 2012 found that exercising with a partner can increase your workout time and intensity by up to 200 percent.
7. Be prepared
Any fitness success knows that preparation is key! If you show up on Christmas day hungry with no idea what food is on offer, you’re more likely to end up eating high calorie options. Not everyone is interested in being healthy, so you can’t expect them to have healthy options available to you.
Instead, try packing your own food to bring to or choosing the healthier food items and portions. Practice saying ‘no’ to pushy grandparents or friends: you don’t need to feel obliged to consume.
Can you have a diet and exercise break around the holidays?
What if you’ve been strict on your diet and workout plan all year and just want a break? That’s possible!
Diet and exercise breaks can be extremely beneficial. They give you time to relax a little - allowing your body to rest and to fuel your body and soul with some delicious treats that help you feel mentally balanced.
Doing so can help you to stay motivated and accountable as you continue on your fitness journey, because you’re giving yourself breaks from the strict rigidity of healthy eating and exercise.
If you do decide to have a diet and exercise break, here’s how you can do so in a way that doesn’t impact your progress:
Trade a few workouts in for outdoor walks with the family
Eat healthy for breakfast and lunch, and enjoy a dinner of your choosing
Drink red wine or low calorie alcohol but still avoiding sugary cocktails or beer
Sleeping in instead of doing your 5 am spin class
Doing exercise that you enjoy - Dancing? Outdoor walks? Family bike ride?
Eating treats in moderation e.g. one slice of pie, not the whole thing!
Eating healthily, saying no to junk food, working out regularly and often prioritizing this over having fun or eating what you enjoy - is hard. But it’s worth it. Around the holidays, if you feel like you’re able to do so, give yourself a little break. But moderation is key so you don’t ruin your progress.