‘Tis the season: 10 tips to surviving the holidays without losing all of your hard-earned gains

With the holiday season upon us, we all know that it is going to become increasingly difficult to resist all the delicious treats that only appear at this time of year. Not to mention, the stuff that’s always around us but we somehow seem to notice it more when we’re in relaxation mode. In addition to time off work, the holiday season is always paired with good food and company. With these temptations staring us in the face, it becomes increasingly difficult to muster up the willpower to say no.

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year – filled with friends, family, love and togetherness. So, with endless opportunities to fall off the wagon with regards to nutrition and fitness, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to avoid losing all the gains you’ve worked so hard to earn up to this point AND attend all the social events and family dinners you want. However, don’t be fooled – the two are not mutually exclusive! You can (to some extent) have your cake and eat it too! Just remember, everything in moderation…
Here are 10 tips that are guaranteed to help you survive the holiday season and ensure that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste:
1.      Be flexible & willing to adapt

Most of us are creatures of habit and tend to panic (to some extent) when our normal routine is disturbed. However, instead of stressing over the fact that you should be working or worrying because you can’t make it to the 5pm CrossFit class, embrace the change and adapt accordingly. You will find yourself much less stressed and with less anxiety if you develop a “go with the flow” kind of attitude and are willing to change your schedule accordingly. If you can no longer make the evening class, consider attending the morning class instead, or maybe open gym to get a quick workout in. The key is not to stop doing the things you love, the key is to prioritize what is most important and adjust your schedule according to those priorities.

2.      Pick your battles

For those of you on a strict meal plan, we know it is not realistic to carry your food scale with your everywhere, nor do we expect you to. However, whether you are currently on a Food for 6S meal plan or looking to continue eating healthy during the holidays, there are likely going to be numerous opportunities to eat foods you normally wouldn’t eat. Imagine how you would feel if you ate out 3/7 days in one week and if every time you went out to eat you indulged on something succulent or sugary because “it’s the holidays”. That would lead to a disastrous downward slope. Instead of allowing yourself to indulge at every meal, pick and choose which meal (1-2/week ideally) is worth over-indulging at. Then, once you’ve made that decision you know that throughout the rest of the week you have to stick to your regular plan. You can treat this as your reward! It is very easy to get caught up in all the social events, but remember that you do not have to have a drink or overeat to have fun – it is much more rewarding to wake up the next morning feeling healthy and well-rested than to be filled with regret!

3.      Plan your meals “out” ahead of time

In addition to knowing which meal (1-2/week) you will likely over-indulge, it is also useful (especially if >1 time/week) to have an idea of WHAT you will be consuming. What’s even better, is that if you know where you will be going (assuming you are going out somewhere) ahead of time, look at the menu and the nutrition guide and pick a meal that would be appropriate for you to have. Once you know the nutrition information you can adjust the rest of the day accordingly, meaning it doesn’t have to count as a “cheat” meal! This would open another meal throughout that week to be used as your “cheat” (aka not counting macros)! Win-win!

4.      Don’t be afraid to say “NO”

I’ve heard a lot of people (and am guilty of it myself) say that they “couldn’t say no” when someone offered them a treat. Guilt drives people to make decisions they normally wouldn’t because most people don’t want to offend anyone by turning down their home-cooked meal. However, saying “NO” is NOT rude; it is a polite way of telling someone what you like and what you don’t like. Remember that everyone has their own opinion and you are entitled to yours! It is not rude to turn down someone’s cooking if you don’t want to eat it, so don’t feel bad if you don’t want to eat something because it doesn’t adhere to your plan. Don’t eat something to make someone else happy, you’ve worked hard to get where you are – eat for YOU!

5.      Prepare your meals & bring them to places when you can

Being prepared is the key to 6S. If you are going to an event or a place where you can bring your own food, DO IT! When you have your food with you, you are much less likely to snack on the goodies around you. This is especially true at work – the holiday season usually means more treats in the office. But, it doesn’t have to mean more treats for you! If your going to someone else’s house where you have access to a fridge and/or stove, you can also get involved and help cook your own meals. This way you have some control with how much butter, oil etc. are being added. You can also cook something separate for yourself (if this is feasible) – then you know exactly what you are eating!  

6.      Limit alcohol consumption

This is not to be confused with “no alcohol consumption”. Remember that you have worked hard to get to where you are today, and you do not want to revert all of that by simply being out of control with alcohol consumption. Pick 1-2 days/week where you will have a few drinks and stick to it! Try to avoid alcohol choices that are high in sugar (ciders, beer, pop etc.), and instead consume things like wine, spirits (with water or other sugar-free mixes). Your body with thank you in the morning and in January!

7.      Broaden your horizons

Along with challenges in nutrition, the holidays also make fitness-ing more difficult than usual, especially if you are on-the-go. However, CrossFit is everywhere! There are new gyms appearing daily, so before travelling, check out the area where you will be and see where the closest gym is. Dropping in to other gyms is a great way to meet new people. If you want a break from CrossFit and/or want to try something new, go for it! Maybe your brother is into kickboxing, or your mom would enjoy doing a pilates class with you or your sister would like yoga – do your homework and try new things! Your effort to involve others and try new things will not go unnoticed!

8.      Make fitness a family event

There are a million different ways to be active, so “being away from your home gym” is not a valid excuse to become sedentary. If you’re at home with family, you can use exercise to spend time together outside (e.g. take the dog out for walks, hike together). There an endless number of movements and workouts that can be done with minimal space and equipment (everyone can do burpees!). So, get your family together, get creative and get moving!

We also have a blog post with different travel WODS, which require very minimal equipment – we mat post another one with newer WODs if there is interest (stay tuned)!

9.      Take time off

I’ve written most of this assuming that the majority of people will have time off work, but I’m aware that everyone’s situation is different and that is not always the case. However, whatever the situation may be, it is important to take time off from work and your daily responsibilities – both for mental and physical health. Even though we live in a society that thrives on production and technology, don’t let that supersede time spent with the people around you. The holidays are a rare opportunity to unplug and re-charge, so take time off to relax, spend it with those you love and enjoy every moment!

10.  Have fun!

When all’s said and done, have a wonderful holiday vacation! Enjoy the time off, but don’t let it be the reason that your new year resolution turns into “getting back in shape”. Stay healthy & happy! The holiday season truly is a wonderful time of year!

Happy holidays from our family to yours!

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