Let’s face it, the holidays and your fitness goals don’t always go well together.
During this time of year, most people are focused on holiday parties, shopping, and spending time with family and friends.
Healthy eating and working out? Not so much…
Still, with the new year just around the corner, I’m sure that you’d prefer to limit the impact of that holiday gluttony and avoid those unpleasant feelings of remorse.
Well, in this article, I’m going to give you some holiday fitness tips that you can actually use this year to help mitigate some of the damage.
But unlike a lot of other such articles online, these tips aren’t going to be based on limiting your enjoyment…
No, I am not preaching that you abstain from drinking or subsist off skinless chicken breast and broccoli here.
Instead, these tips are meant to be some realistic things that you can do to limit the damage while still having fun.
Holiday Fitness Tip #1: Adjust Your Workouts
It’s easy to let workouts fall by the wayside, especially when you’re in holiday mode and out of your normal routine.
So instead of letting this frustrate you, and feeling bad about missing your workouts, take the bull by the horns and create a plan that you’ll realistically stick to.
Don’t think you’ll be able to get to your 4 regularly scheduled gym workouts?
No problem – just reduce your workout schedule to a more manageable 2 sessions per week.
So don’t be afraid to change up your workout structure, reduce the volume, or shorten the rest intervals between sets.
Or if you know you won’t get to the gym, plan to do some home-based, bodyweight stuff instead.
Perfect is the enemy of good here – so it’s better to plan for less-than-ideal workouts that you’ll actually do, rather than feeling guilty about not sticking to your normal schedule.
Holiday Fitness Tip #2: Eat Light So You Can Eat Big
Look, I’m not here to tell you not to go a bit overboard with your calories during the holidays.
But, realistically, you won’t be in situations where you’ll even want to indulge all the time…
For example, there are probably specific occasions where you know you are going to binge.
Accept that fact, and work to balance it out by eating fewer calories than usual on the other days.
Remember, whether or not you gain much holiday weight will be more about your calorie average vs a single glutinous day.
By employing strategies like calorie cycling, you’ll be able to smooth out that average, putting on less holiday fat as a result.
Holiday Fitness Tip #3: Try Intermittent Fasting
We’ve written about the benefits of intermittent fasting before, but you don’t have to be a regular devotee to take advantage of it during the holidays.
Like the previous strategy, selectively fasting allows you to better partition your calories, so that you can save them up for the meals where you know you’re going to overeat.
So on days where you have a big dinner or afternoon feast lined up, eat lighter during the day, or skip breakfast entirely.
If you must, have some lean protein and veggies to fill you up, but that’s it.
This way, when it comes time for that holiday dinner, you’ll have saved up a bunch of calories that you can guiltlessly consume, without worrying about them going straight to your gut.
Holiday Fitness Tip #4: Watch What You Drink
The holiday season and drinking more alcohol than usual tends to go hand in hand for many guys.
And I’m certainly not going to tell you not to drink; however, if you are mindful of what you’re drinking, it can make a pretty big difference.
For instance, classic holiday drinks like eggnog can pack in 400 calories per glass, so if you chug those down all evening the calories will definitely add up.
Instead of doing this, try sticking more to spirits and wine when possible, which have far fewer calories per glass without sacrificing any alcohol content.
Holiday Fitness Tip #5: Eat Your Veggies
Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying to only eat vegetables during your holiday meals, forgoing all those fun foods that you actually want to eat.
But what I am saying is to eat your vegetables in addition to these other foods – preferably first, if you can.
Why do I suggest this?
Simple – aside from the obvious nutritional benefits of the vegetables, they will also help to fill you up, so that you’ll be less likely to eat quite as much of the heavy calorie foods, without having to consciously limit yourself.
Holiday Fitness Tip #6: Drink Your Water
You should be drinking water anyway, but around the holidays it’s even more important.
For one, you are likely to be drinking more alcohol (see tip #4), so you’ll want to be consuming enough water to avoid getting dehydrated.
Aside from that, however, the real reason that I recommend drinking more water is that it’ll help to fill you up.
Just like eating your vegetables, drinking more water will help to trick your body into feeling full faster, so you won’t end up gorging yourself quite as much.
Holiday Fitness Tip #7: Don’t Completely Ignore The Future
During the holidays, it’s very easy to say ‘to hell with it’ and not worry about the consequences of your actions.
However, the unfortunate truth is that the holidays don’t last forever – and the more you put your fingers in your ears and pretend that none of it matters, the ruder your wakeup call when reality decides to slap you in the face again.
So while you definitely want to indulge more than usual, let loose, and enjoy yourself, you should avoid being hedonistic for the sake of hedonism.
And by that I simply mean trying your best to be mindful whenever possible.
Do you really want that 3rd slice of pie, or are you just doing it to keep the food coma alive?
Are you actually hungry for another massive plate of food, or are you just automatically going up for more?
By simply being more conscious of your actions – and aware that reality is lurking right around the corner – you’ll make better overall choices, allowing you to maximize your holiday enjoyment while limiting the nastiness of the hangover.
Do you have some holiday fitness tips that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.