Holiday Riptide (Don’t Let it Pull You Under)

The Holiday season hasn’t just arrived, it’s abruptly landed in the middle of all of our plans and schedules, filling  our calendars with everything from Friends-givings, to family gatherings, to the office holiday party with that one guy who always indulges a tad too much. These are all times of celebrations and fun, as well as a gut-busting onslaught of the most irresistible food we could imagine. It is easy to succumb to the will of the holidays, to give in to the massive buffets and 47 dish potluck parties where everyone brought store bought brownies (lazy bums). Do not simply make excuses and push off your healthy habits and exercise routines until the new year. Fight to stay strong and weather this confectionary storm of sugar cookies and pie. If you can, you’ll start 2017 not just on the right foot, but in a dead sprint, running past all those sleeping in until noon on New Year's Day. Let’s go.

Plan for the Party

This isn’t your first holiday get-together (if it is, happy 1st birthday! How can you read already?) You know exactly the type of food that will be there along with the  expectation from the host that you eat everything in sight. Lord help them if they have leftovers the next day. You can prepare for this, however, by using a simple checklist like the one below:

Quantity, Quality, Questions?

Plan how much you’ll eat from the beginning. Rather than filling your plate full at the get go, only take half as much of each dish you desire. Chances are that once you’re done with that plate, you’ll be close to full, rather than overly stuffed with the meat sweats which will lead to that bloated uncomfortable feeling that we all know well. You’ve cut your calories in half, and you will still get to enjoy some dessert. You’ll enjoy the rest of the evening with  a satisfied tummy, thanks to your planning.

Enjoy Dessert, Enjoy your Goals

Don’t be afraid of sweet things. It’s okay to indulge every so often. I don’t think I could function as a human without Oreos in my life. A holiday party is no different. You want that sweet tooth satisfied, so find your favorite dessert above all else, and take a reasonable amount. Do this, instead of loading your plate with 4 different slices of pie that you’ll eventually consume. I know I would. Once you have that sweet in your belly, you’ll be less tempted to head back to the dessert table for more.

Bring your own Healthy Dish

If you know the entire family cooks nothing but fried meats and cheeses (i.e. my fiance’s) then prepare by bringing your own dish to the party. It may not be a hit with the other guests who prefer the deep fried variety of foods, but that just means more for you. Fill up on your own healthy dish and you’re less likely to indulge in the 7 cheese fried sausage and scalloped potato dish your soon to be mother-in-law is famous for…

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming…

Your schedule will have ballooned with all the events lined up, and you’ll have less time for some of the important things like your exercise. It’s inevitable this time of year, and that’s okay! Don’t let it stress you out, you’re not alone. Rather than shutting down altogether, take a step towards keeping some sort of normalcy to your fitness routine. Even if you can only exercise 1 or 2 times a week, it’s important that you do. Not only is it great for your body to keep moving, but it will keep your goals in mind. If you’re constantly thinking about your fitness goals, you're more likely to make better choices at parties where all those food options  are present.

Less Resolutions, More Goals

There is a reason gyms are at their busiest the day after New Years.  It’s the resolutions that so many people make. They hit the ground running after having had a very filling holiday season. The risk here, and the reason why many of these ‘resolutions’ fail so quickly, is that people will burn out  and not see results as quickly as they hoped. Rather than making brash sudden ‘resolutions’, make short term achievable goals, or expand on your current goals and keep them going through the new year.

Here is an example:

  • John Doe, who used to workout occasionally, makes a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym 5 days a week to lose 40 pounds and run the Chicago Marathon by next October.

  • Jane Doe who hasn’t worked out before decides that she wants to start thinking about getting healthy. She decides to start tracking her food and investigating different fitness options that she could be apart of.

  • Brandt DeVries swears off Oreos for good, never again will the package labeled Double Stuffed grace his pantry again.

John has made a bit of an over-aggressive resolution and has set himself up for failure. They are all great goals, but bundling them together makes it a bit lofty. Smaller, achievable goals that build towards those long term ones would be more sustainable. For example, start an exercise routine that includes running once or twice a week. This will help him ease his body into what could eventually become a training program.

Jane has made a goal to improve her overall fitness, which is great, albeit a bit vague. But she adds specificity and makes it achievable by choosing to start tracking her food. I recommend MyFitnessPal for something like this!

Brandt (whoever that guy is) has made an unreasonable goal of completely discarding something he loves out of his life. Like I said, it is okay to indulge occasionally. Always have your goals in mind and don’t over do it, but an Oreo now and then is alright.

It’s an attractive idea to say, “Well I’ll just enjoy the holidays, not worry about my goals and restart after New Years with my resolutions.” I say don’t do it! Accommodate your goals so you can enjoy the holidays but in a way that supports your fitness efforts. It’s better to keep swimming forward or even stay in one spot, rather than letting the holiday pull you backwards.