Tis the season – food & fitness

It’s easy to eat and drink more and exercise less at this time of year between American Thanksgiving, Hanukah, holiday parties, Christmas, cooler weather, and dark mornings and evenings.


Before you know it January rolls around, your pants are snug, and you realize you might have enjoyed the holidays a little too much. (Just me?!)

But some of the tips out there on how to beat that? They seem a little unimaginative and archaic.

Eat before you go to a party so you don’t overindulge? Put on lipstick after you eat to prevent going for more? Munch on carrots while in the kitchen to avoid taste-testing as you go?

Let’s come up with better ways to stay healthy during the holidays so that we can actually enjoy them without worrying about a few extra pounds.

Adjust your expectations. Realize you may not be able to get in all your scheduled workouts and you might eat less healthy than normal. Maybe even figure out if you’re comfortable gaining a bit of weight and how much.

Commit to fitness. Time is valuable over the holidays. It seems like any spare time you used to have is eaten up with visiting, shopping, or cooking and cleaning. If you don’t have time for your regular workout, switch it up. A short workout is better than none, and can really make you sweat.

Include family. This one kind of goes with the above point. If you don’t want to miss out on time with family and friends, include them. Do something fun like ice skating, tobogganing, or skiing. Or take them on a walk to see the decorated homes.

All or nothing. Eating doesn’t have to follow the all or none theory. If you’re going to eat ONE bad meal, you still have the opportunity to eat two really good meals and healthy snacks.

Bring something healthy. You may not always choose the healthiest options at the food table, but by bringing one you know there will be that option. Kelly and I generally bring a vegan entrée to dinners, so I know there is something healthy I can eat if I choose. Although the ‘fill up with veggies’ tip bugs me, my plate tends to have a lot of salad and vegetables on it.

Be positive and ENJOY. The holidays are a time to celebrate and be with family and friends. It’s hard to enjoy when you’re stressing about missed workouts and extra calories. So quite simply, don’t.

Get back on track. After a party, go back to regular eating and exercising until the next one. It’ll be a lot easier to get back on track come January if you haven’t gone overboard for an entire month!

I have never been able to turn down a homemade perogy, and I can’t say no to dessert when there is seasonal baking out. Hand me a hot chocolate with some Bailey’s or Kaluha and I’m a happy girl. I’m ok with this.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes with peppermint 'buttercream' icing

Vegan chocolate cupcakes with peppermint ‘buttercream’ icing

I know I eat healthy and workout the majority of the time. So I let myself indulge without worry.

What are your healthy holiday tips? 

How many holiday parties do you have to attend?

60 responses to “Tis the season – food & fitness

  1. I honestly think people stress wayyyy too much about staying on track with eating and workouts over the holidays. I like these tips, but just as you said… if you eat a little too much just work out a little more after the season ends – it all balances out eventually! The holidays are about enjoyment, after all.

  2. “Get Moving” is our motto over the Holidays…whether it is completing a workout, walking with the dogs, hiking in the woods, chopping firewood, etc. We just try to find something active to do instead of sitting around 🙂 With 3 Holiday parties this year (2 of which are for our running club and triathlon club), we will be making sure to find activities to keep us moving!!

  3. I don’t really change much about my diet or fitness during the holidays because like you said – a few pounds can be lost if necessary.

  4. This is the hardest time of the year!!!! Even if you indulge, you can counteract the effects by sticking to your workout regime!

  5. ari @ whatarisaid

    Baileys and hot chocolate?? Wait, what? I need to try this! And yes, this year I’m trying to adjust my expectations and keep a balance – yes I can indulge but I also can go on a run to even things out a touch.

  6. Abby, I absolutely LOVE all of your suggestions, especially to give yourself permission to enjoy the best the season has to offer. Why bust your hump all year if you can’t enjoy hot cocoa (with real whipped cream, please!) and the best Christmas cookies? Life is too short. Eat dessert. And then hit the trails with your hubby!

  7. Love this post! WHO eats before going to a party to “fill up” – are you kidding? We gotta live a little!! You’re tips are so great. Honestly, I am okay with gaining a bit of weight over the holidays, not too much, but I would rather enjoy this time and not worry about the rest! Get out as much as possible to get your sweat on but if it doesn’t work out one day – no biggy 😉 And now I really wish I had baileys for my coffee.

  8. Great tips! I especially like the lipstick one, haha! Seriously, I like the friends/family inclusion.
    Luckily for me, the past few years my marathon has been in January, so I can’t really let myself go too much during the holidays!

  9. I LOVE your tips! So smart!! One of my major tactics is to try to eat my normal routine during the week and have some treats during the weekend. That way I don’t feel deprived, but I also don’t feel super off track and out of whack.

  10. Great post! I try to go with the 80/20 rule. I work at eating well 80% of the time and making sure to get in at least 80% of my training and try to relax a bit over the 20% that I splurge on.

  11. I tell you, it’s the darker mornings and evenings that hurt me the most. Who wants to go to the pool when it’s already dark out? Even if it is only 4 in the afternoon…

  12. Just bring your bike and trainer to the party so you can ride while you eat. That’s guilt-free partying 🙂

    BTW those cupcakes look so cute and tasty.

  13. I used to be a notorious all or nothing holiday eater! I have earned to work on moderation and since I enjoy vegetables more now I tend to eat a bit lighter even at the big holiday meals , but still save some room for treats. Sometimes I really go overboard but I try not to beat myself up too much! For some odd reason this is my 3rd year in a row training for a marathon over the holidays so that definitely helps with the weight gain! I like your philosophy- indefinitely think eating and exercising simply to maintain weight is a good goal around this time!

    I have 4 parties and 2 holiday dinners this week alone! Tis the season! Next week only 2 🙂

  14. Great tips… thanks! I always think I’ll just use my will power, and then halfway through my 2nd thing from dessert tray I remember I don’t have any!

  15. Great, much more realistic tips! I find I usually do really until just about the end of the holidays, when I somehow find my way to too many of my MIL’s good cookies! But keeping the treats as something I only indulge in outside of the house, instead of bringing them into my house, seems to always help me.

  16. Is that lipstick advice for real? Oh dear. That’s some great advice! When I was in Ohio last week, I knew that working out was a priority, but spending time with family (and catching up on sleep) was more important. So, I set a goal to workout three times during the week. Didn’t matter how long or fast, just that I got out there. Goals are good, as long as you don’t stress out too much!

  17. All your tips are great and just in time for party season, I have three this week!

  18. My family and I don’t attend many holiday parties. I’m kind of thankful that I don’t have to worry about the extra weight/etc. but I’m also glad they don’t complicate my already busy holiday schedule!
    I, like you, bring something healthy. I try HARD to fill 1/2 to 3/4 of my plate with veggies/salad/fruit ~ anything raw.
    Include family – The Turkey Trot I just did is a perfect example! I love this idea! Glenn and I signed up for a 5K in MI when we’re there for Christmas. We’ll see how many family members join us!

  19. I struggle soooooo much with “all or nothing”. Once I eat something crappy, I feel like the day is blown and I should just give up. I need to adjust that!! Thanks for sharing these tips!

  20. I love your tips..and I think the key for me to eating during holidays is just pure balance and moderation. I try to eat the same as I would year round!

  21. Such a great list! The holidays are tough around here because I work in property management and I have to attend (no joke) 9 parties for work. It’s incredibly excessive and it’s hard to stay focused on healthy during all of that.

  22. I love your tip on including family and friends. So many holiday traditions revolve around food. It’s important to remember that you can also make traditions out of doing fun, active things together!

  23. Love the pic of Harold!! I mean really do you have any that aren’t super cute!!?
    Great tips! I do pretty good at parties. The sweets are usually what get me! I am sure you are shocked right? But I am trying to be better at my treats intake in general so I should be ok. It has to be something that I really want to have.
    I think I only have 2 parties and a dinner. I guess I just have friends that don’t like to have parties! 🙂

  24. i like what you said about including family! that makes it more fun and great accountability!

  25. runnerbydefault

    I so needed to read this post today!!! I have been struggling BIG TIME already and Christmas isn’t even here yet!! Thanks for that!! Harold is adorable!!

  26. Great tips! I too find my pants a little snug come January!

    Love the adorable picture of Harold!

  27. Such great tips! 🙂 I think its important to remember to be PRESENT during the holidays- in all aspects…. if you live a healthy lifestyle the whole year remember WHY you choose to do so and use that for motivation to continue practicing moderation.

  28. Homemade perogies are the BEST. I’m Ukrainian, and my grandma has been making them for special occasions for as long as I can remember (we call them petaha). So good!

    Great tips, lady! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

    • Seriously- aren’t homemade ones the best?!? My grandma also makes them for all occasions, and I can’t get enough! My mom and sister have her recipe and make them at Christmas time, too.
      I hope someone in your family has the recipe to continue the tradition one day!

  29. I know I already commented, but….I just saw a stat that my friend posted on FB saying that, on average, Americans gain around 12 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. How is that even possible?!

  30. Great tips. You’re so right. We need to get out of our ‘all or nothing’ mindset. It’s ok to indulge every once in a while. Not every month can be dedicated to training and depriving yourself. Life’s all about balance. So, as ever, well spoken! 😉

  31. Great tips, Abby! Just this morning one of my clients and I were talking about tips for her to stay on track during the holidays and I told her that I needed to write about that on my blog. Great minds think alike!

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