7 Tips for Staying Active During the Holidays

The holiday season is definitely upon us.  Every year I have clients who tell me they struggle to stay active during the holiday season.  Between travel, spending time with the family, and trying to cram 40 hours of work into 3 days, it can feel overwhelming.  But the truth is, you don’t have to sacrifice a fun holiday season just to stay on top of your workouts.  Like most things in life, there’s a good medium ground.  Here’s my seven best tips for training over the holidays, without becoming a Scrooge.

Staying Active During the Holidays

  • Don’t Count on Travel – When you’re sitting down to map out your schedule, don’t be deceived by that 11am flight that says it will land by 3pm.  Or that car ride to nana’s that is supposed to take 3 hours.  Holiday travel is notorious for taking 187% longer than you ever anticipated, and being 3426x more stressful.  If you have early travel, plan to take the day off.  If you can squeeze something in before, take advantage.  Whatever you do, don’t bank on training after travel.  And if you’re looking for tips to help you get in workouts while traveling, take a peek at my Working Out While Traveling post.
  • Focus on Quality – Even though you might have some time off work, don’t be surprised when your typical 24 hour day feels like it flew by in 16. With so many things going on at once, it’s easy to look track of time. So try to schedule your taper, cut back, or recovery weeks around this time (if you can), and focus on getting the quality work in. If you plan to run 2 easy days and a track workout, make sure you get in the workout towards the beginning of the week, so that if you need to drop a day later in the week, it’s no big deal. Same goes for shortening workouts when you’re pressed on time. Keep key workouts prioritized, and don’t stress about the rest.
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  • Plan Workouts Around Festive Times – Not the other way around.  The holidays are brief and fleeting, and while working out is important, it shouldn’t be the focus of your week.  Do some prep work, figure out what your friends and family have planned, and fit your training in around that.  You won’t regret making quality time with your loved ones the focus, especially if you give yourself some grace.  The holidays are very short moments in time, and slacking off for a week or two a couple of times a year isn’t enough to truly derail any progress.

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  • Remember, It All Counts – Activity is activity, and it all strengthens the body. It might be very different than your typical training, but in the grand scheme of staying healthy, all of it counts. Going ice skating with your kids? That counts as a workout. Rolling around on the floor with your niece? Yes, that counts, too. Taking a hike through a crowded mall or grocery store (go with God, my friend)? That definitely counts. So don’t feel like just because you aren’t throwing down double digit runs or working on your deadlift that you aren’t getting in physical activity. It’s all valuable.
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  • Get Creative – While we’re talking about all the ways to get in physical activity, don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you don’t have access to a gym, that means you can’t workout.  There is an endless number of ways to stay active without going to a gym or track.  Find a great trail and take your family for a hike or bike ride.  Consider a brief membership on ClassPass to have access to individual spin, yoga, and CrossFit classes.  Check out Pinterest to look for strength workouts you can do in a hotel room.  Pick up a set of resistance bands that are super versatile, and can be packed up easily.  If you need a few idea’s for body weight and resistance band workouts, head over to my Workouts Page!
  • Don’t Overbook – This is one that I scream to myself every single holiday season.  We’re human, but we think we have the ability to slow down time.  And we’re so incredibly wrong.  It’s a natural human shortcoming to think that we can fit in 10 things when we really only budget enough time for 6.  Don’t make this mistake.  On days where it looks like you have more festive things planned, don’t try to cram in a 20 minute workout.  This will probably just increase your feelings of stress, and chances are it won’t benefit your training.  So what’s the point? 

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  • Have Back Up Times – But on that note, if you’ve identified your key workouts, and figured out where in your calendar they fit, try to have at least one back up day. Because you never know if Aunt Susan’s turkey stuffing is going to give you food poisoning. Or if your toddler is going to decide that Christmas is just too exciting to sleep. The holidays are unpredictable, and it’s a whole lot easier to roll with the punches if you’ve got some sort of back up plan in place. Couldn’t get in the track workout on Christmas Eve? Well, don’t toss back too many Moscow Mules with Christmas dinner, because the morning after is your back up training time.
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  • Bonus: Don’t Earn Your Food – And for the love of all things pie, do NOT buy into this “earn your dinner” mindset.  It’s an absolute bullshit lie that the diet industry is perpetuating, to get you to buy things.  You don’t need to do a Turkey Trot before Thanksgiving dinner.  You don’t need to do a 12 Days of Christmas WOD before you go face first into Christmas cookie heaven.  Diets in general are ridiculous, but especially this time of year, eat what you want to feel the way you want.  No one ever got diabetes because they ate a few dinner rolls.

Do you need to workout during the busy holiday weeks?  Absolutely not!  You will not lose strength or fitness after one week.  And while the scale may tip in one direction or the other, that thing never tells anyone anything useful anyways.  But if you want to stay active, because you like how being active makes you feel, then there are definitely ways you can work in training over the holidays.

Which do you prefer, a free week or continuing some workouts?  I’d love to hear from you!

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