A Guide To Balancing Fitness & Fun During The Holidays

You're not going to lose all your hard-earned progress in the gym if you take a week or two off to travel, see family, and eat holiday treats. But for some people, changing their routine for a while makes it easier to do it again and again. This can become a downward spiral of your good health habits. Being too strict and forfeiting holiday fun can also be very lonely, so how do you strike a balance between nurturing your social ties and wanting to workout on Christmas?

A busy period for many, juggling company parties, travelling between families, disagreements at the dinner table, interrogations about your private life from that one auntie, overspending on gifts, missing family members....

The pressure to enjoy everything is enough to make anyone want to stress-eat an entire pie.

What about the progress you've made in the gym, you've stuck to your training and feeling strong, chances are you're sitting in the middle of 2 feelings.

  1. You're ready to justify over-indulging as a reward for your hard work
  2. You struggle to enjoy treats without feeling guilty, so you reject as much seasonal fun as possible in favour of your gym habits.

So, how can you enjoy life with the least amount of disruption to your training? if you've got a solid routine, what easy strategies can you use that won't impact your gains much?

Revisit your goals

Firstly, it helps to reflect on your goals and ask yourself 'why' is training important. Are you competing in something soon? Have you struggled with self-control in the past and need to lose weight? Are your goals about longevity and feeling good in your body?

It also helps to be honest with yourself when it comes to your lifestyle and habits.

Keep these tips in mind when the season starts to creep in on your routine.

Tips For Balancing Fitness & Fun

1. Implement a DELOAD in your program
Fit your training around your life instead of your life around training. If you're writing your own program, implement deload weeks before it starts to get busy. Scheduling your downtime at this point in your training cycle can make it easier for you to enjoy the time off.

2. Be aware of your STRESS
Protecting your mental health around family can be tricky, but stress is the number one factor that distracts from the lighthearted fun of the holidays. Don't be afraid to say "no" when it makes sense. If you're seeing a therapist, use the method they give you for handling stressful conversations with family members. Prioritize your well-being while maintaining your compassion. Get good sleep, hydrate, breathe, spend some time outside and take your meds if prescribed.

3. Stretch and Mobilise
Bring at least one mobility tool when you travel. A foam roller, lacrosse ball, massage gun, floss bands etc. Something that is portable and easy to carry is ideal. If you don't have any of these tools utilise stretch positions. Spend at least 2 minutes during each stretch position (pick 3-5 stretches). This will help downregulate the nervous system.

4. Have fun when you exercise
In the spirit of "something is better than nothing," go to the hotel gym and see what you can make up based on the equipment they have. Play around with a machine you never try, and do a session with only your favourite lifts. Go for walks, swim, bike ride, run or surf. Use that "me time" to take a break from the craziness.

5. Bodyweight workouts
Being able to adapt to the environment you find yourself in is incredibly useful and important for your training (and life in general). If COVID shutdown taught us anything, it's that you don't actually need any equipment to get a workout in. Keep a rotating list of bodyweight movements and mix them up when you need something quick. When in doubt, try something like this:

2-3 Rounds
50 Squats

40 Reverse Lunge

30 Push Ups

20 Toes Touches

10 Burpees

6. Check your PERSPECTIVE
For the highly-motivated, training-obsessed gym rats who are most likely to be the only ones working out on Christmas eve. The gym is basically empty and the staff are counting down the hours until they can leave. I admire your commitment, but I've also been in that lonely place. Consider checking in on the "Social" bucket of your life. Are you missing out on some important bonding moments with your family by shunning the indulgent holiday traditions? Those important people won't be around forever.

A quote from Alex Maclin - All the major "food holidays" combined only make up 3% of the year. It's not that 3% of the time holding you back from your health and fitness goals. Enjoy your holidays.

If you need help with your health and fitness goals, email me at info@exceedalliedhealth.com


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