Strategies for Holiday Health and Wellness
Enjoy the holiday season without the guilt of over-indulging using these simple strategies.
By Curtis Gee 11/18/2023
As I write this, it is November 17, 2023. Just a week from Thanksgiving and a month away from several holidays. No matter what you do or do not celebrate during this time of year, it is often a time where we put our health and fitness goals on the back burner. Family gatherings, parties, work, and travel are all things that can get in the way of continued progress towards your goals. In the 10 years that I have been training people I have developed some helpful strategies for this time of year so progress isn’t halted completely while still enjoying yourself and I would like to share them with you.
1. Don’t wait for New Years Eve to set goals and/or assess progress of current goals.
One of the biggest reasons that people slide backwards on their health and fitness goals is that New Year’s Eve is so close and many use that as their point of reference for making changes and setting goals.
But if you indulge for 2 months straight with the idea that you will make big changes in the new year, things
become much more difficult. So I always recommend reevaluating a current goal or setting a new one that will be sustainable through the next few months. That way there is something to focus on the down time between parties and gatherings.
2. Indulge on flavor not volume.
No matter which holiday is celebrated over the next 2 - 3 months, there is always bound to
be a bunch of delicious food present. We often hear about how people have to wear elastic
pants or unbuckle their belts after eating because they indulged so much.
My recommendation for anyone trying to avoid this situation is to slow down when eating and really take your time enjoying the meal. Flavor, texture, smell are all things that make food great, so really enjoy each bite rather than see how many bites you can get in a short period of time.
3. Keep eating balanced meals, moving, and exercising during the times that you are not celebrating.
As someone who has worked with hundreds of people over the years, the thing that always
baffled me the most was that people took the idea of the holiday season as an opportunity to stop doing the healthy things they were doing all year and then have to reestablish those habits in the new year.
To help prevent this from happening, try to keep your habits during the down time. For example, if you are going to a big party over the weekend that you know will have lots of sweets and fried food, keep eating your veggies, drinking your water, go for walks, and continue attending the gym during the week. It’s about staying balanced so you don’t feel that you fell backwards when you do choose to indulge.
4. Food has no inherent moral value and trying to do harder, more intense workouts after eating is not a healthy mindset.
A common conversation I have after one of my clients goes to a big celebration or party is how they feel that they need to work off the “bad” food that they ate. There is no food that
is inherently good or bad (not counting food allergies). Food is the cornerstone of most cultural celebrations and there shouldn’t be any guilt involved with having it, especially if you keep the rest of your week balanced, as previously discussed.
And even if you go totally crazy during your holiday meal, doing an extra hard workout afterwards could do more harm than good. Doing a normal intensity workout that burns calories but allows you to take a walk later and workout again the next day will be more beneficial in the long run than a guilt fueled workout that you haven’t done before.
The overarching theme of all these tips is balance. If you follow a healthy, balanced meal plan, go for walks, and attend the gym regularly during the down times, you will feel better throughout the holiday season and allow you to enjoy travel and parties without feeling the guilt of over-indulging. As long as you don’t use the holiday season to stop doing the healthy things you have already been doing, not only will you feel great about your November and December, you can go into the new year on an upward trajectory. Access your goals, figure out how you want to attack your down time, and have fun out there!
Written by Curtis Gee, Elite Personal Trainer Curtis has been teaching, coaching, and educating since before he could drive. Starting with youth and high school sports, leading to teaching and helping at-risk high schoolers graduate, to most recently, working with athletes and adults to achieve their health, fitness, and sporting goals. When not at the gym training others or working on his own fitness, Curtis is an avid gamer, basketball junkie, and enjoys martial arts movies.