The Athlete’s Guide for Thriving in the Holiday Season

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know the holidays are a time of joy, festiveness, and most of the time, indulgence. They are your taste buds’ favorite time of year, and they herald family get-togethers featuring tons of delicious foods.

Naturally, this poses a few questions. Athletes and regular gym-goers alike ask the same questions every year;

How do you stay fit during the holidays? How do you keep your exercise and diet in check? How do you stay on track to progress and head out the holiday season looking better than ever?

Those are precisely the questions we’re going to answer today. I know that the holidays are a tight labyrinth to maneuver, and that’s why I’m sharing my tips for staying active and fit during the holiday season!

Let’s get right into them.

First and foremost, be mindful. Self-reflect on your whole mindset behind the holiday season.

The first and most valuable step in your holiday fitness journey is self-reflection.

Think about it – Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner. Why does that trigger people to stop working out?

If you go deeper into that question, you’ll start asking yourself, “well, what does it take for me to skip a workout”? That question is a great place to start. Or “Why does the holiday season feel like a time of overindulgence.” Should I fall into that?”

By digging deep and getting answers to these self-reflective questions, you’ll get a feel for how motivated and driven you are to achieve your goal. You’ll also get to understand your true subconscious motivations for your training (or lack thereof.)

In reality, there’s nothing about the holiday season that *should* stop us on our way to fitness progress.

That being said, though, there are still things we have to bring our attention to, so we make sure we’re not sabotaging our health amid all the festiveness.

Just remember that disciplining yourself out of overindulging, lack of exercise and low motivation is impossible without first realizing the real reasons behind them.

Ask yourself these questions to reflect on your fitness goals…

  • Why should the holidays slow you down?
  • Why should they trigger me to stop working out or stop taking care of my diet?
  • What does it really take for me to skip a workout?

After that, create a holiday goal and make a short plan.

Setting your goal *for* the holidays is simple.

Your goal should be to stay on track. Nothing surprising, nothing complicated.

If you’re training daily, keep doing that. If you’re counting macros, allow yourself a bit of indulgence. It’s really as simple as that. You don’t need to make it any more difficult than it is.

You can go as far as setting a small milestone for you to reach at the end of the holiday season, such as losing/gaining an extra two pounds or hitting a new 1RM.

Whichever way you choose to go, what’s important is that you don’t lose track of your main goal.

A lot of people start slacking during the holidays because they spend a week or two on resting and partying, and their healthy habits start losing their grip.

That’s why keeping your goal in mind and not letting bad habits set in is the best way to stay fit (and actually make progress) this time of year.

Journals are one of your best friends during this season.

Committing to writing a daily journal entry is one of the best things you can do to keep your fitness in check.

Not only can you track your progress throughout the holidays, but you can write about your positive habits so you reinforce them. Journaling is a great way to follow and strengthen pretty much every habit.

Not to mention, studies show us that people who keep a journal lose an average 40-50 percent more weight than those who don’t!

As the saying goes, what gets measured gets managed. If you keep track of certain metrics and write about your progress, your chances of following up with it skyrockets.

This makes journals especially vital during the holidays. Grab a journal if you don’t have one, commit to writing a daily entry, and you’ll see you’ll have no problems with overindulging and workout laziness.

Switch-up your routine a bit to burn more calories!

The holidays are also a time for a change. Don’t hesitate to switch things up in your workouts or even try a new routine.

Especially if you’re low on time during the holidays or you’re traveling back and forth, staying active can be difficult.

In this case, consider creating a short HIIT (high-intensity interval training) routine that you can squeeze in your schedule.

If you have access to a gym, you can craft yourself a 30-minute HIIT workout that will shed off most (if not all) the calories you consume extra that day.

If you plan on working out anyway, but you’re focused solely on resistance training, make sure to add some HIIT elements to heat up your workout and burn some extra calories.

  • If you’re strength training or training for hypertrophy, try adding elements of HIIT in your workout.
  • If you do lots of cardio, try moving up to a standard HIIT routine.

How should you keep your diet in check during the holidays?

Aside from the obvious avoidance of trans fats, sugars, holiday snacks, and processed foods, there are a couple of things you can do to fortify your holiday dieting efforts.

  • Every time you feel hungry for some holiday sweets, drink a glass of warm water. Sometimes, our body craves food to warm itself, and this can cause random episodes of craving sugary foods.
  • Speaking of which, make sure you stay hydrated throughout the holiday season. This time of year, a lot of people forget about pure water and turn their attention to warm chocolate shakes, coffee, high-carb fruit punches, and carbonated drinks. Don’t forget about pure water, even if these drinks have water in them.
  • Remember – a small part of food contains the most amount of calories. That’s what you should beware of – the chocolatey, delicious, carb-full holiday snacks. If you can keep them at a low, you can enjoy all the other sweets and pleasures of the holiday season guilt-free without sabotaging your diet.
  • Avoid alcohol. A glass of wine is fine, but you know what I mean. The holidays sometimes come with a lot of partying and drinking with friends and family, so make sure you’re keeping it in check. A lot of the time, it’s the drinks and beverages that come *with* the alcohol that are high in sugar. Nevertheless, aim for alcohol that has a low sugar content and avoid carbonated drinks like the plague.

Remember – fight the cold!

Some people get sick during Christmas like clockwork. Some people only get the flu when it’s warm.

Whatever the case may be with you, make sure you’re more than prepared for the potential flu that’s creeping right around the corner.

Here are some tips for keeping the common cold away and staying healthy during this season.

  • Try taking a multivitamin to avoid any deficiencies that might weaken your immune system.
  • Don’t spend too much time out in the cold after you’ve completed an intense workout.
  • Beware of showing in the gym when it’s cold outside.
  • Always make sure the essential brand medications like Aspirin are at hand’s reach.

Stay active with awesome Winter sports!

If, on the other hand, you can’t remember the last time you got sick, or you live in a part of the world where Winter is generally warm, you’re in luck.

You get to go out and enjoy a plethora of otherwise inaccessible Winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice-skating.

Aside from being a super fun way to enjoy Winter, they’ll help you stay very active and motivated during the festive season.

Moreover, I know a lot of people love training in the cold. There’s something about training with all the snow and ice nearby that makes certain people love it.

If you’re one of those people, now’s your time. If you’re not, I don’t suggest trying it out to see if it’s fun.

To conclude…

An athlete’s journey through the holiday season can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you keep your goal in mind, avoid overindulging, and stay consistent with your training, there’s absolutely no reason to be worried.

You’ll probably end up making progress even if you put your diet to the side and focus on more intense workouts. However, keeping your diet in check isn’t difficult at all if you can stay away from alcohol, trans fats, and highly processed foods.

The only thing you should beware of is the common cold that can put you to bed and keep you away from the gym for a while.

Other than that, I believe every athlete is well-equipped to survive and thrive during holidays, and I believe you are, too!