How To THRIVE Through The Holidays.
How many burpees do you have to do to burn off the piece of pie you’re going to eat tomorrow?
Unless you feel like doing burpees because you’re just sick like that. But you do not have to earn your right to eat or punish yourself for doing so. Anyone who prescribes random exercises in attempt to negate calorie counts displays a glaring misunderstanding of human biology.
Besides the fact that you do not have to do penance for enjoying yourself with a few extra calories with your friends and family over the holidays.
Simple as that!
Listen, any sort of extreme that drifts from balance or sustainability and pulls you away from living your healthiest, most fulfilling life whether it’s restriction, guilt, using exercise as a punishment or neglecting your body and health completely – is not physically or mentally healthy.
These are the things that lead to unhealthy relationships with foods and our bodies and result in constantly diet hopping, getting caught in binge/restrict cycles, self-loathing, “falling off the wagon” and eternally grasping for sustainability and results with our health and fitness goals.
I want you to know that in health, balance is key. Balance is integral to mental, physical and emotional health. Overly restricting yourself, punishing yourself and feeling guilty for enjoying yourself on a holiday is not conducive to your health or your waistline – as much as other fitness professionals might try to make you feel like it is.
On the contrary, this doesn’t necessarily mean eat and drink everything in sight with no confines, just because it’s on the table and just because it’s a holiday – as this isn’t exactly the healthiest approach either.
But if holidays, eating out, or any other “unknown” in your nutrition plan gives you overwhelming anxiety, it’s a sign that you’ve probably got some work to do in regards to your mindset and nutrition strategies.
This all or nothing mindset – the catastrophizing of minor less-than-ideal bumps in the road to the point where you begin to believe that progress is completely ruined by a momentary perceived ‘”setback” or indulgence is what causes so many people to throw in the towel and feel like failures.
It’s also why so many people do actually throw in the towel between now and January 1st and just abandon all health/fitness goals with the plot of starting over after the New Year. We’ve been made to believe that health/fitness is miserable and full of punishment, rather than life-enhancing. It has to be all or nothing and we won’t be able to enjoy any of our favorite holiday foods, so why bother at all?
Then, since we know we’re going to be starting our new diet in January, we better eat all the things now because we certainly won’t be able to eat them ever again in the New Year, right?
On a larger scale, this is just another version of bingeing and restricting, and this is not how health or fat loss work. (My advice and how I practice moderation during the holidays are below!) True health and fitness isn’t “on or off”.
I’ve Been There Too.
I went through YEARS of being stuck on and off diets, trying to maintain a size zero, bingeing my way back up to a size 11 and then restricting my way down again – more than once. I’ve gone through the holiday season during both my restrictive diet periods and during my let-loose-and-eat-all-the-things-because-I’ve-been-so-deprived-for-so-long phases.
Neither ended well. Neither brought me happiness. Neither gave me the results I wanted.
I bleakly remember one year inhaling HALF of a pumpkin pie, in like 10 minutes, while standing at the kitchen counter at near midnight because my cravings were so out of control from restricting myself, dieting and trying to eat like a bird at Thanksgiving dinner earlier in the day.
It’s taken years of introspection and experimentation to get to the place I’m at now, where holidays and the accompanying consumption no longer stirs up anxiety.
Now, I just mindfully eat what I truly want in moderation during holiday get-togethers. I know that there will always be pies, mashed potatoes, cookies and other indulgences available to me all other 364 days of the year and today is not the last day I’ll be able to enjoy any of these things.
I’m no longer controlled by a scarcity mindset, because I know that indulgences are available to me whenever I want, and I don’t have to wait for the holidays to enjoy them. Because #balance.
Guilt and Shame Do Not Produce Positive Fitness-Related Results.
Holidays are meant to be full of energy, excitement, connection and gratitude.
Health and fitness should be empowering. It should build you up, make you feel powerful and vibrant and transform you into a better, stronger version of yourself while enriching your quality of life (because if it doesn’t, chances are you’re not going to want to keep going, right?).
It is not rigid dieting, guilt, shame, deprivation, fighting against your body, being utterly hard on yourself or trying to burn off your last meal, because these things suck and don’t make us better.
If you are striving to lose fat, understand that the actions you do most often, every day, over time, are what matter most, and not an occasional meal that may have been “less than ideal”. Indulging in a few, moderate holiday meals is not going to negate your hard work.
How I Thrive Through The Holidays.
- I eat regular, balanced meals – Building every meal around lean protein, plenty of veggies, healthy fats and moderate carbs. The ability to control hunger, regulate energy and blood sugar and keep cravings at bay is directly determined by your food choices at previous meals and how frequently you do/don’t eat. Skipping meals, or skimping on meals before your holiday dinners to “allow room” for more calories later, can often be triggering and lead to increased hunger and cravings that cause you to overeat later in the day. Just eat regularly.
- I stay consistent with workouts – I treat my workouts like a second job, a really amazing job with incredible benefits. They build me up, center me, relieve stress, release all sorts of feel good chemicals and help me take on the world..plus they get me closer to being strong as heck. Why would I ever miss out on any of that goodness? Even if I only have time for a walk around my neighborhood or a 10 minute circuit in my basement, movement is part of my life, fuels me, and my body feels less than stellar when I don’t get any. (I have also noticed that when people are consistent with their workouts, their healthy eating and other good habits stay consistent as well).
>> Check out my Free Workout Friday posts for quick, home workouts to get a solid, feel-good sweat sesh before your turkey dinner: Scroll Through Here<<
- I don’t eat foods that don’t rock my taste buds – Cookies off a shelf or weird plastic-like cheese on the appetizer table? No thanks. Pumpkin pie from the local farm or my Dad’s homemade pork stuffing – YAAAS. These are the foods that truly bring me joy and I will savor every satisfying little crumb of them at holiday dinners. I can absolutely do without eating less than absolutely delicious foods that don’t do much for my satisfaction factor.
- I keep an honest inner dialogue. I always hit the pause button before and during eating and check in with myself. Am I truly hungry? Why am I eating this? Does this food (or drink) support my goals for my health, performance and/or physique? If not, can I eat this without feeling guilty or crummy (digestive upset/bloating, stomachache, energy crash, etc.) afterward? Will I be able to eat this slowly, savor it and stop when I’m truly satisfied, before I’m stuffed or without it triggering an episode of overeating?
Relax, relish in the time with your family and friends. Enjoy and mindfully savor every bite of your dinner and dessert – without guilt, shame or worry – and get back to your regular routine the following day. No need to “detox” or punish yourself with grueling workouts or restriction.
Stay tuned for this week’s Free Workout Friday – I’ll be sharing a super effective beginer-friendly body weight strength circuit.
If you’re a woman who wants to look good, feel good, and be healthy and strong with a results-driven, sane and sustainable approach to fitness, contact Erika@HurstStrength.com for more info on your own individualized training and nutrition plan!