Holiday Survival Guide

Navigate holiday health with stress & fitness management tips, realistic exercise expectations, and balanced nutrition to maintain wellness
Cal Bauer
March 22, 2024
Holiday Survival Guide

As I'm writing this we are currently two thirds through December and the holidays are reaching their final form. The egg nog & other non-nasty beverages are flowing, the Reese's Christmas trees are out, and you're seeing family & friends to celebrate a year that was better than last (for the most part). If you're anything like me, once you have two cookies, you might as well have three! Or four. Or five. Or...

We are in the midst of the 5 hardest weeks when it comes to taking care of yourself, not just physically and nutrition-wise, but mentally as well! It can often set people down the path of wanting to just "put it off" until the new year, but we all know that living in those thoughts just sets us up for an even steeper mountain to climb next year. So in an effort to talk some people (myself) off a ledge, I'm going to provide 4 areas of focus and provide a few tips and tricks to help everyone navigate these next few weeks without making 2022 even more challenging!

Stress Management

It's no secret that the holidays can bring about an immense amount of stress. From navigating family dynamics, picking & choosing which parties to go to, getting your shopping done to try to make your loved ones feels special... it's freakin stressful man! That stress can play a pretty negative role on your health, so managing it is imperative. Here are a few tips:

Gratitude: It's very easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the season. We get so caught up in the hustle that we forget to spend time reflecting on what we're even celebrating. When you find yourself overwhelmed by all that needs to get done, take a moment and pause. Breathe. Remind yourself what you're celebrating and steer into a moment of gratitude. Gratitude is an incredible topic in itself, and I implore you to look into it more yourself if you get the chance. By practicing gratitude daily, you will begin to see positive changes in your daily mood and outlook. The weight of the stress begins to lift.

Meditation: Quit running around with your head on fire and find some basic sanity by establishing a meditation practice! Just like gratitude, meditation studies have proven that by having a routine can reduce stress and increase calm. Done well, it can actually increase intuition and effective decision making, allowing you to handle the challenging situations and people in your life with more skill. Netflix currently has an awesome guide to meditation that is great for anyone getting started.

Fitness Management

Typically the easiest of the health management strategies that gets put to the wayside is exercise. The "I don't have time" creeps in as the calendar begins to fill up and the stress is negatively feeding back to that, and for some reason we actually believe that. Like a lot of things we work with in here, simply a changing mindset helps to remedy this. Rather than thinking "I don't have time to work out," flip the script to "I am choosing to not make my health a priority and therefore not working out." It may seem harsh, but it can put it in all in perspective. Everything you commit to has a priority level, and you make all of it happen. If one thing doesn't happen, it's because it's not a big enough priority in your mind. Make your health and wellness among your highest priorities, plan for it at the beginning of the week like you would your work schedule or your church schedule, and do your best to follow through!

Be realistic about what you can prioritize into your schedule. If travel is keeping you away from your local gym, let us know and we'll send you workouts that run concurrently with our programming. We'll also help you do research on gyms you can drop into, and reach out to them ahead of time to let them know what your goals are and anything you may need.

Nutrition Management

Equally as mistreated as fitness, nutrition also tends to get ignored during the holidays. There are so many indulgences around us it is so easy to just throw your hands up and get after another piece of fudge. I am speaking from experience here.

Biggest thing we want to avoid here is called the "all or nothing" mentality. That you are either on a diet or off of it. That you're on track, or you're careening off the road. Very little in life is binary, but for some reason we have this notion that you're either "on a diet" or off of one. These next two weeks will be tough, but they won't undo the weeks of effort you've put in. Enjoy these days, and just remember that they're just speed bumps, not roadblocks.

One trick that will help you to get through will be to maintain your Protein Intake. It's my personal favorite macronutrient and it gets forgotten on plates in favor of those buttery mashed potatoes and the other awesome sides that find their way in there. But, as we all know it's the most important macronutrient to maintain and build muscle mass, and it also does a great job of helping us to feel satiated and full. Throughout the day, try to hit 20-30g protein 5 different times to help curb the appetite. Pacing it this way will not only support your Schwarzenegger-like body, but will prevent you from reaching for that Little Debbie's Christmas Tree. If you're heading out to a Christmas party, eat a high-protein snack before walking out the door will help you to be more mindful of what you'll be taking in!

Just a few more tips before I stop buggin ya:

  1. Consider smaller portions and load up your plate with the healthy stuff first before slappin the potatoes on there
  2. Don't forget the veggies! Try to fill up half your plate with veggies. Potatoes are not a veggie, and neither is carrot cake.
  3. Drink plenty of water! Thirst can trigger that feeling of hunger, so before sitting down to eat, slug at least 8 oz of water first!
  4. Savor the treats! They're treats for a reason - try to enjoy and appreciate each one before going to the next.

I hope these tips and mindsets can help you to navigate these days with a little more intention! If you have any questions, never hesitate to email, or book an intro meeting here. We wish you a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays from your friends here at Great Lakes!


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