For someone who takes their training seriously, the holiday season can be a time rife with obstacles and challenges to find yourself off rhythm for weeks on end. As in any challenge there is the opportunity for success and “winning” the holiday season is navigable with your fitness habits intact. Below we’ve outlined a few keystone principles that can help keep you sane and give you some solace.
5 Simple Tips for Navigating the Holiday Season
#1 - Nothing is all or nothing
This one is #1 for a reason, one of the biggest problems with the holiday season is, it is in fact, a season. Nine weeks span from Halloween to New years day, and that can easily turn into weekend after weekend of work parties, special meals, and gym skipping. During this time there are fun events and special meals to be had but let’s remember those are SINGULAR occasions. If you indulge in pie that your wife makes once a year that’s great! Enjoy it, enjoy the ritual then move on, you’re not a bad person or ruining your gains from a singular occasion. As you view the season pick some special highlights to indulge and enjoy but realize that they are drops in the bucket of yearly habits. You can have these small enjoyments and not throw out the rest of your weekly rhythm
#2 - Hydration and protein
Now the above principal can often be easier said than done with all the temptations that surround this season it's not so easy to just pass things by. Hydration and protein are things we talk often about but can have an extra edge in helping you navigate this season by what they can do for satiety. Thirst signals can be misconstrued as hunger, even things like a growling stomach can be a thirst signal. So our daily goal of 60% of your bodyweight in ounces of water can be a great pillar for helping you feel full and make good decisions easier. Secondly protein has some of the best bang for your buck in satiety of all the macronutrients. Having a simple goal of eating a full fist sized serving of protein at each meal PRIOR to any treats or indulgences is a great standard. By slowly chewing your protein you give your body a chance to send fullness signals and making it easier to avoid mindless and unfulfilling snacking at overflowing holiday gatherings.
#3 - Up your steps
Any Big Dawgs client has at some point partaken in some easy MAP 10 work. This is consistent aerobic work for a prolonged period at a very very easy intensity. Now you don’t need to wheel your assault bike into the family dinner and get an easy spin to be effective. Set a goal of increasing your steps by 10% over your usual baseline, or a goal of walking for 10 minutes consecutively after each meal. The simple act of walking helps to decrease serum insulin after meals. This can help your muscles absorb and store the available insulin and give you the feeling of regulated energy. This is also a sneaky way of increasing metabolic output over the aforementioned 9 week holiday season this is one of the simplest methods for helping recovery and increasing your bodies metabolic work during this usual metabolic indulgence
#4 - Do what’s natural
Family gatherings, travel, restricted gym schedules can all affect your available training window. When you’re rushed and stressed it's often easy to skip a workout. If in doubt repeat what you love. I tell my clients to “train for their essence” these are the workouts that feel the most natural and doable for you. Perhaps you barely need to warm up to hit a nice squat and pull up session, or you always love a 15;00 steady state jog. We all have wheelhouse activities that are either very enjoyable or feel natural to our structures. So when in doubt repeat a workout that you absolutely loved in the past. This would be a great time for a 4 week trial with one of our coaches to work through some assessments and help you identify what would work best for you
#5 - Don’t burn it down
This final tip is really a combination of #1 and #4, and our only “what not to do” of this blog. You don’t need to make up for a holiday party or meal by doing a triple Murph, in a vest, with your mouth taped shut in a sauna. Perhaps a bit of hyperbole there, but my point is you don’t need to go hard to pay a penance. If you ate foods that aren’t as nutritious or perhaps didn't get your usual 8.5 hours of sleep, is the stress of a very intense or voluminous workout the right answer? Absolutely not, it's pouring gas on what’s probably a very small fire! Stick to your natural enjoyable program and navigate the season one day at a time.
Play the Long Game
In the end remember that what we do for weeks, months, and years on end will dictate our function and results. This holiday season can be a well planned part of your training cycle instead of a derailing stressor. Hopefully these few tips can provide some structure for the next several weeks, and remember you don’t have to go it alone, reach out to any of our coaches for some specific individualized guidance during this time and the rest of the year.
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