Five Tips for Achieve a FitFluential Balance During the Holidays

As a runner, I often use running analogies to put things into context.  I view a calendar year the same way I view a marathon.

If you’ve ever hit the “wall” during a marathon, you know how painful the remaining miles can be. They never seem to pass and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to move any faster.  You spend the last few miles wishing you were more focused and dedicated with your training and swearing you’ll never run another one.

You wish you were able to finish strong.

Similarly, I don’t like ending the year in a rut – whether it’s pertaining to my running, diet, or overall lifestyle.  No matter how great the whole year was, if I’m in a downward spiral the last few weeks, it causes me to view the entire rest of the year as a letdown. And all I want is for the year to be over.

You wish you were able to finish strong

The ideal marathon is one where you run negative splits and cross the finish line pushing your hardest. The last few weeks of the year should end the same way – you should try to FINISH STRONG and cross the finish line (New Year’s) with a smile on your face, pleased at the hard work you put in.

Well, that’s easier said then done.

If you are like me, the appealing cocktails, delicious food and sumptuous desserts at dinners, galas, and family gatherings are way too yummy to pass up!  Also take into account the time commitments from these parties, holidays, and other social functions and it’s easy to see how fitness and eating healthy too often take a backseat at this time of year.

It may seem impossible, but you CAN balance the requirements of the season with your intentions to stay healthy.

I am beyond excited and honored to have been chosen recently as a FitFluential Ambassador.  We were given the task to write about how we try to achieve balance over the holiday season.

“FitFluential is all about balance. By focusing on these four components [Eat, Sleep, Move, Enjoy) of a healthy LIFE, we promote balance.”

Below are some things that I try to do to achieve a FitFluential Balance during this part of the year:

1.Plan my workouts ahead of time [MOVE].  For instance, I know that I will have no free time on Christmas Day – we will open presents in the morning, enjoy a late lunch with my dad, and spend the remainder of the afternoon/evening at a family member’s home.  Instead of just skipping a workout that day, I will shuffle around my run schedule for the week.  I will do a long run on Christmas Eve morning and Christmas will be a planned rest and recover day.   It may not technically be any different from skipping a workout, but it does wonders for mental well-being!

2. Be realistic and flexible with what I plan to eat [EAT].  I have pretty good self-control when it comes to eating and drinking things that are unhealthy.  Part of it is because my husband and I keep very few treats around our home.  But, I know I can’t say “no” to those brownies or a piece of my mom’s coffee crumb cake all night.  I’d rather go to a party with the plan to enjoy myself by grazing and sampling a few treats. If I try to avoid everything then I will likely fail – and will end up chastising myself for the remainder of the evening. Additionally, I do NOT take any cakes/cookies/brownies home with me.  No matter how hard my mom tries to guilt me into taking a plate of cookies home with me, I don’t!

Dessert at a recent family gathering (for 12 adults and 2 children!)

3. Eat a small meal before a holiday party / gathering [EAT].  One of the worst things you could do is show up to a holiday party starving.  The appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, while delicious, are usually NOT the healthiest option for you. Throw in a little alcohol, and you could easily consume a day’s worth of calories in just 30-60 minutes.  I usually eat a snack or small meal before I head to the social gathering. I still sample the appetizers, but do not need them to eat my body weight in them to fill me up.

4. Allow yourself some FREEDOM [ENJOY]. There is nothing wrong  with taking an extra day off or two during the holidays.  After working hard all year, a couple of days of not going to the gym or running will not kill you.  Be kind to yourself – there are so many things going on during the holidays that it is HARD to get workouts in.  Try your best.  But know that if you skip a day, you’ll make it up tomorrow!

All ready for my husband's holiday work gala!

5. Change the intensity of workouts [MOVE].  Too often, I’m tempted to skip a run because I only have a 30 minute window for a workout – and had planned to run that requires much more time.  Rather then just chalk it up to a missed run, I use the time I have to get the most out of my workout.  I’ll turn what would have been a regular run into either a speed or tempo workout.  Changing the intensity of the workout can burn just as many – if not more – calories then a slower paced, longer run.

How do YOU balance the commitments and frivolity associated with the holidays with STAYING FIT AND BEING HEALTHY?

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