Ho-ho-how to stay on track with health and fitness goals during the holidays

The holiday season is here! It’s the time for celebrating, admiring pretty lights, attending events, and spending time with family and friends. With all this joy and fun, how could anyone be stressed, right?

It feels bad to admit, but as much as I love the holidays, they stress me out. I have struggled for years to find a balanced relationship with food and fitness, but something about being surrounded by food, drinks, and fun signals my brain to let all my goals fly out the window until well into the new year. I simultaneously feel overjoyed and overwhelmed by all the extra activities and obligations and let my own priorities fall to the wayside.

Whether you are actively working toward a fitness goal or just want to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, this time of year can be extremely difficult for maintaining a wellness routine.

This year, I decided to be a little more proactive: I’ve partnered with two of my favorite fitness experts, Becca and Marshelle (check their bios below!), to share our top tips for staying true to your health goals without sacrificing any fun or enjoyment of the season!

Get moving in the morning

The holiday season is often the busiest time of the year. The days can quickly get away from us between balancing family, parties, work, etc. The best way to ensure you get your workout in is to sweat in the morning. If you put it off, you won’t do it at all! Plan your workout the night before and schedule in however much time you have available before you daily festivities begin. This can be as short as a 10 minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout or an hour-long group fitness class at your favorite studio. We even put together a circuit you can do in a hotel room!

If you don't have time and budget to go to the gym regularly, you can make your own gym!
For more workout ideas, here are some great online resources:

  • FORTË – streams live and on-demand fitness classes from boutique studios
  • Sweat Lab Fitness on YouTube – Fusion Fitness KC provides short, 5-minute videos to strengthen specific areas of the body
  • POPSUGAR Fitness on YouTube – offers fitness tutorials, workouts, and exercises

Don’t restrict yourself

Accept the holiday season and all the wonderful goodies that accompany it! Drop the “all or nothing” mentality and approach meals thoughtfully: listen to your body, eat the foods you love, and stop eating when you’re full. I encourage everyone to plan to eat desserts. This allows you to enjoy holiday treats and avoid that horrible feeling of guilt that results from restricting. A simple way to enjoy treats in moderation is to always eat the protein and veggies on your plate first. This will ensure you are filling up with the nutrients you need and not only the tasty treats. If you still have room, that is when you eat a dessert or two!

Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep & water

Unfortunately, many people find themselves getting sick around the holiday season. Being sick makes it much harder to stay on track, plus you don’t want to miss out on all the fun and family time. In order to keep a strong, healthy immune system, aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a night and stay hydrated. Sleep and water are the basis of our overall health and are very simple items to focus on.

Don’t let traveling foil your plans

While I totally understand that traveling impacts your daily routine and makes it harder to stay on track with healthy habits, with some creativity and adaptability, you can always incorporate healthy meals and a workout.

When you’re staying in a hotel, continental breakfasts are super convenient. With a little planning, they can be totally healthy, too! There will be pastries, waffles, and sugary cereal, which won’t provide long-lasting energy for your busy days, but most hotel offerings will include options for a healthy and well-balanced meal. (Also, who wants hotel breakfast pastries when you can save your entire stomach capacity for pie and ice cream at a Christmas party?)

Go for these food pairings to power through the holiday festivities:

  • Greek yogurt w/ granola and berries
  • Hard boiled eggs w/ buttered whole wheat english muffin
  • Eggs & bacon
  • Whole wheat toast, avocado, eggs
  • Cheerios, milk, banana

Forgive yourself if when you slip up

You’re only human. If you stray from your goals for one meal, one day, or even a week, forgive yourself. Think back and evaluate what caused you to miss your target so you can set yourself up for success the next time around. Beating yourself up over small slip-ups does nothing for your future success, but it does distract you from living in the moment and embracing the joy of the season!

There we have it, an arsenal of tips and tricks to help you maximize your joy while minimizing stress and slip-ups on your journey to whatever “healthy” looks like for you!

Let us know in the comments which tip you’ll be trying first!

Shout out to my amazing co-authors!

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Marshelle Johnston is the owner of MJ Fit, a boutique-style gym exclusively for women and children located just south of Denver, CO. MJ Fit’s mission is to “inspire women and children to be strong,” and offers nutrition counseling, personal training and small group classes. When MJ is not at the studio training one of her wonderful clients, she is most likely in the gym preparing for her next powerlifting meet! To schedule a class with MJ, go to http://mjfit.co.


Becca Bond is an Engineering Consultant, Fitness Instructor, and health enthusiast. You can find her leading a cycling class or a weight-based circuit workout at Joyride Texas in San Antonio, TX. For more health and fitness tips, follow her on instagram at @bbond_fit or sign up for one of her classes at http://www.joyridestudio.com/.

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