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The food. The festivities. The family feuds and travel chaos—oh the joys of the holiday season!
Every year the holidays come and go. With that comes more stress, weight gain and a hole in your wallet. This year you can show the holiday season who’s boss. Stay on top of your lifestyle habits—with a little indulgence here and there—without the heightened stress of travel and family or worry that you’re sabotaging you training or waistline.
Health coaches and professional athletes know how the holiday season can make you want to pull your hair right out. Over many years they’ve discovered little tricks that have helped them stay on top of their fitness while spending the holiday season with family (without stress!).
Margaux Alvarez (CrossFit), LifeProof Athlete
On time for yourself
Find some time for yourself while traveling or visiting family. That could be as little as five to 10 minutes or as much as a whole hour in the morning, at mid-day or at the end of the day, to decompress and commit to something that benefits you. Reading a book, journaling or taking a class to unwind will help get your body or mind moving and will help relieve stress. Remember to stay present and enjoy the moment that you are in.
While traveling, I always try to keep snacks, such as bars, with me so I have something to eat while on the road.
On training and traveling
While the spelling shows the first three letters and last three letters of both words to be identical and compatible, we all know from experience just how polarizing these two words really are! Traveling is not easy. In the past I would typically feel a great deal of guilt knowing I didn’t get in the full amount of training when traveling. Fortunately, I have learned how to better utilize my time on these days. Knowing in advance when I am traveling helps my coach program around this trip and it allows me to either rest, or it frees me up to take a nice, relaxing run.
Margarita Ventura, World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Pro (WBFF)
On working out and traveling
Try high-intensity workouts that do not take too much space. Also if you can try to have resistance bands and/or gliding discs around the house (they are easy to pack for holiday travel) they come in handy during busy times like this. You can workout at home or your hotel room incorporating high intensity movements with resistant band strength training and gliding disc workouts for a total body workout without having to go anywhere.
High Intensity options include: jumping jacks, switch lunges, air squats, squat jumps, high knees running in place, sit up, bicycle crunches and planks.
Resistant band moves include: hammer curls, bicep curls, deltoid front raises and lateral raises.
Gliding disc workouts include: gliding mountain climbers, gliding hamstring curls, gliding pikes and gliding plank jacks.
On staying calm during the holidays
The holidays can be stressful mentally, physically and emotionally, so I always suggest workouts be less aggressive and more focused on maintaining to avoid burning out during a hectic schedule. I tell my clients that if you want to go balls to the wall five times a week to relieve stress, go for it! However, turning on your favorite tunes and zoning out on the stair master or treadmill with some light strength training two to three times a week is better than not going at all. Also, always take time for yourself whether it be 15 minutes to an hour a day to meditate, read a book or pamper yourself as great stress relievers. If you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of anyone else.
On healthy eating
Before attending social events, I suggest eating a prepped meal and drinking plenty of water that is high in micro-nutrients so that you do not arrived famished or dehydrated. You will be less likely to binge on empty calories or over indulge. Also, if you are going to sip on some alcoholic beverages, make sure to do so in moderation while drinking a glass of water after each cocktail.
Stacy Kaiser, Live Happy Editor at Large and Licensed Psychotherapist
On family holiday events
If you find that your holiday events with family are filled with stress, invite other people along as buffers. Invite your favorite neighbor, coworker, or friend so that they can add some joy to your occasion.
On avoiding stress
Take breaks from the chaos and drama. Plan a day trip to a quiet place, turn of your phone and disconnect while hiding out in your house in front of a fire while binging on a TV show or reading a good book.
On maintaining happiness during the season
Find things to make you laugh. One of the best ways to relieve stress is to have a good laugh. Watch a lighthearted TV show, see a comedian or spend some time with friends who make you giggle.
If you are feeling lonely, or have come to realize that the people in your circle are people you do not want to be around, seek out opportunities to spend time with other people to make new friends. Enroll in a holiday cooking class, attend a workshop on relaxation and connect with people in an online community.
Brad Davidson, Author of The Stark Naked 21-Day Metabolic Reset, Fitness Expert and Nutritionist
On when to work out around a big meal
If you know you’re going to have a big meal (i.e. for Thanksgiving or Christmas), then do a high-intensity workout before (I recommend 45 minutes of cardio/strength training and/or intervals). You’ll be more insulin-sensitive so you won’t put weight on. The sugar from the carbs will replenish muscle glycogen and not turn to fat.
On drinking this holiday season
To offset the damage of alcohol, drink a cup of green tea before you drink to support the liver. Then take milk thistle, a herbal supplement, after you’re done drinking before bed to help the liver process the alcohol and help with the sleep process.
Sanya Richards Ross, Five-Time Olympic Medalist
On maintaining healthy habits as an elite
The holidays are tough for everyone, even elite athletes. My trick is always maintaining balance. I enjoy my time with family and try not to be too picky, but I stay hydrated and balance my meals. If I know we’re going to have a fun dinner meal, I have a clean breakfast, drink lots of water and have a healthy lunch, that way I don’t feel guilty splurging for dinner. It’s all about enjoying the holidays, but in moderation. I also will do a few extra core exercises to make up for my more indulgent meals.
On running and traveling
To maintain my running pace during the holidays, I track all my runs on my Nike Plus app. It allows me to stay as close to my goals as I’d like to be.
On mentally surviving the holidays
It’s not always easy to stay motivated during the holidays and it just feels like the perfect time to be lazy and lounge around with family and friends, but I’m so blessed that most of my family members understand the importance of my training and will actually ride alongside me for my longer runs and try to keep up on some of my shorter runs. It makes my holiday training sessions so much more fun!