Surviving the Holidays with Your Sanity & Your Waistline

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Being a personal trainer can be interesting. We get close to our “clients.” There’s a unique bond that forms over time, very different from, say, a doctor/patient type situation. We text each other, we crack jokes, we know everything about each others families and lives. But there’s another intriguing side to personal training. Trainers get to see behavioral patterns from our clients, and can even begin to predict and expect things…like cancellations, weight fluctuations, lack of motivation etc. Usually these things are individualized, depending on happenings in the person’s life. But, then there’s this OTHER time of year, where there tends to be this collective behavioral pattern that sets in across the board.


The holidays.

(If I could, I’d insert dramatic music here…)

Surviving The Holidays

(The San Antonio Riverwalk. A fun RV destination over the holidays…)

The holiday mindsets have already kicked in with my trainees, and we’re still over a week away from Thanksgiving. They’re making their holiday plans, cancelling upcoming workouts, and telling me all the things they have to do. The RVers are taking off soon. The grandparents will be hosting their out of town kids. The moms are preparing for the winter break and having their kids full-time again. Everyone’s shopping up a storm. As they rattle off their holiday to-do lists, I interrupt.

So, what about your fitness?”

This usually gets their guilty-eyes look, or a laugh, or some comment like, “There’s no time…will pick it up after the holidays.”


Make Your Health a Priority This Holiday Season

Whenever we’re thrown off our normal routine, we become susceptible to ignoring our pre-established healthy habits. The holidays are a perfect example of that. I’m sure you’ve seen the research yourselves. We gain weight over the holidays, we have higher stress levels, we exercise less, on and on and on. But, with a little work on your part, you don’t have to be a holiday statistic.


Tis The Season To Stuff Ourselves. But Don’t!

One of the biggest pitfalls to eating healthy over the holidays is the variety of new and different foods that are available, especially at parties. We all eat with our eyes, after all. When we see a table of food in a rainbow of colors, aromas, and volume, our eyes want to taste it all. But there are some strategies you can use to help.

Never arrive at a party hungry. And remember, fiber will make you feel fuller longer, so make sure whatever you choose has high fiber content.

Keep your distance from the food table. If you’re sitting at the kitchen island, and the island is where all the food is, move. Being within arm’s reach from the food means you’ll do your share of mindless snacking just because it’s there.

Always keep water with you. Mindless water sipping can replace the mindless eating you’d otherwise be doing.

Quit tasting when you’re doing your holiday baking and cooking. Those calories add up quicker than you realize.

Chew gum. Once you’ve had enough to eat, pop a piece in your mouth to kill the temptation to eat more.


Tis The Season To Shop Till We Drop: And Be Stressed!

Many of us go overboard to please others during the holidays. We feel we have to do everything: shop, cook, send cards, and attend every event. But here’s some news for you. The world won’t end if you back off a little. The only person putting these holiday expectations on you is YOU. Here are a few other hacks to de-stress.

Delegate! You’ll be surprised how much lighter you feel when you ask others for help, instead of keeping all the responsibility yourself.

Sunlight! Getting a little sun stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and lightens your mood.

Citrus! There’s research that shows taking a whiff of citrus ups your levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects your mood. Try eating an orange or dabbing some lemon or orange essential oil on a hanky and stash it in your pocket.

Hoku! No, not Hookah, I’m not telling you to smoke a pipe. Hoku is the spot between your index finger and your thumb that when you squeeze it, according to traditional Chinese medicine, will reduce stress and tension. So, next time you start feeling overwhelmed, squeeze that little fleshy spot and give it a try.

Exercise! The BEST thing you can do for your stress levels is exercise. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but working out can actually make you feel better. Research has found that workouts can boost your mood for up to 12 hours! So, quit cancelling on your trainer (ahem ahem), find the time, and make it a priority.

Holiday Stress

So, basically, in a nutshell, surviving the holidays all comes down to planning and prioritizing. Make a plan to make your health a priority. And if you do, you’ll come out the other end of the holidays relaxed, happy, and with your waistline intact.

candy canes

Happy holidays, all! May they be your healthiest ever!

After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

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