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A guide to staying in shape during the holidays

I hear this every year: “The holidays are coming so there is no way I can stay on track. There's way too many parties and temptations, so I’ll hone in on my health and fitness goals the Monday after New Years’ Day.” But what is so special about January 1st? I believe you can get going on this goal any time of the year, but we just finished Thanksgiving and are coming up on the New Year and that's when people are most motivated, so let’s go over some ways to stay in shape during the holidays to get you a head start on 2019!

Often, clients will come to me asking me what the best decisions to make during the holidays are. I’m happy to give them the answers. However, here’s another thought: what if you went about your health goals and fitness goals the entire year guilt free? What if you didn’t feel bad about that occasional dessert or extra helping of food?

Let’s face it. There are plenty of opportunities for setbacks the entire year, not just November through December. For example, there are birthday celebrations, Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, vacations, dinner with family or friends and other occasions that could get you off track. Even going to the grocery store or driving by that favorite restaurant could sidetrack you.

My point is that we’re not going to approach our health and fitness goals with 100 percent tenacity or accuracy 100 percent of the time. It just isn’t doable or sustainable. We would grow to hate it and then give up—and that’s not an option. That’s why I want to tell you about my 80/20 rule. It’s a rule you can apply to your health and fitness plan year-round, since the opportunity—and temptation—to off-road is with us constantly.

This isn’t a license to go hog wild though. You can shoot for that 100 percent mark most of the time, but the truth is that there will be times when the 80/20 rule needs to go into play. When those times hit, then here’s how to arm yourself.

When you enter a season in which it is more difficult to stick to your diehard nutrition and fitness schedule—such as vacations, birthday celebrations, holidays, etc.—that’s when it’s time to look at your fitness and nutrition in seven day blocks.

We need to achieve the 80/20 rule within these seven days for both your fitness and nutrition. That means I’m allowing you to make mistakes 20 percent of the time, but you have to be a little more structured with what you’re eating the other 80 percent of the time, and you will have to be more mindful of your nutrition and training. What this is going to do for you is allow you to NOT feel bad about being imperfect in this area of your life.

No one goes without making mistakes, especially with their eating and gym time. That’s just the reality. So, if you have a perception that the person next to you never deviates off the plan, check again.

Here’s How I Like to Break it Down:

If you have five meals a day, seven days a week, you’re getting in 35 meals. Out of those 35 meals, 80 percent of them have to be spot on. Eighty percent of the time, nail it. Twenty percent of the time, allow for error. That could mean eating 4 very healthy, nutrient dense meals per day and then saving room for a little snack at night. The same goes for your fitness. If you plan to exercise six days a week but find yourself missing that target, shoot for the 80/20 rule and get in 4-5 solid workouts throughout the week. They don't have to be long workouts. Just do anything that you enjoy to break a sweat for a few minutes per day!

Why am I telling you to do this? Because I don’t want you to feel like you cannot make mistakes. The need to be perfect is probably why some of you have fallen off the wagon to begin with. You eat perfect for a few days and then have one bad meal and then feel like a failure and just quit completely. What this 80/20 rule provides is a reasonable playing field allowing you to be successful. So start here, and understand that fitness, health and wellness are not about being perfect. They’re about consistency and being in the game for the long haul. A year from now, I hope you look back at your year and realize that finding success with this really wasn’t all that difficult.

Other than the 80/20 rule, there are some other tips that you can use during the holidays to help keep you on track.

1. Always plan ahead. If you know that you have a party later in the day with lots of sweets, then simply have less carbs earlier in the day to help balance it out. Keep your meals mainly protein and veggie focused which will keep you full without piling on unnecessary calories that you will eat later in the night. Balance is key.

2. Avoid sitting for long periods. Often during the holidays, we eat and then we sit around. Counter this by getting in some activity earlier in the day and then trying to be more active throughout the day. Get up every 30 minutes and move around, clean the house, put on some christmas music and dance. The more active you can be, the better!

3. Seek out new ways to manage stress. Another must-do for the holiday season is to learn how to better manage your stress levels. Stress raises cortisol which affects your insulin, and makes fat burning a tough process. Stressing is only going to make your life that much harder. Start slowing down, chewing your food, and enjoying the spirit of the jovial people around you. Also remember that you don't have to accept every invite you get. Sometimes a jam-packed schedule is the source of all your holiday stress, so start practicing saying "no" when needed. Those who care about you will understand you can't do everything.

4. Drink more water. Water will help to hydrate us (duh) and keep us fuller for longer. Often times when you are hungry, or have a headache, it means that you are most likely dehydrated...especially with drinking a few adult beverages. Aim to drink a full glass of water with each meal and then sip on it throughout the day rather than calorie dense drinks like egg nog.

5. Enjoy yourself. The holidays are a time to have fun and spend time with loved ones. Don't stress about being perfect 24/7. A few bad meals here and there won't completely ruin your progress, but don't turn the holidays into an excuse for a month long binge fest and then "wait until January 1st" to start fresh. Roll with the punches and enjoy your meals but also do it in moderation!

Happy Holidays!

Remember to send me a message if you ever have any health and fitness questions.

-Coach Tyler

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