With Halloween approaching next week, the domino-effect mindset of holiday season challenges us to stay on track with our fitness and nutrition as we dive into the darker, colder months of the year.

For many people who already follow a regularly fit lifestyle–exercise regularly several times a week, eat minimally-processed, whole foods, hydrate and sleep adequately–it’s usually not too difficult to stay on track. In fact, having indulgences on a couple days during this time of year, when enjoying time with family and friends, can be a nice treat and period of relaxation from their regimented routines. For others, who may be a little more inconsistent with their fitness habits or nutritional intake daily, this can be a difficult time, that some might find themselves spiraling into several days or weeks of poor decision making, finding themselves at the start of the new year, making the same resolution as last year to lose another 20 pounds and to start working out again.

So how do we stay on track? There’s candy in the house, holiday parties on the weekends, and all of the special dishes that come around this time of year that just make us feel some type of way: stuffing, casseroles, cheese plates, and wine. Here are four tips to stay on track through the holidays:

Keep your exercise routine the same, relentlessly. It’s easier to stay on track with your sleep and nutrition when you are regularly exercising, especially in the same way you had been before the holidays. It may be more difficult to get extra movement in outside in the colder months, but try to get to 3-5 hours of physical activity each week, with a combination of conditioning at high intensities, lifting/loading, as well as longer, metabolic sessions. CrossFit Des Plaines still runs their regularly schedule during the holidays, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, so we will see you around!

Challenge yourself and some friends to a nutrition challenge. If you know that all the other days around the holidays are actually the troublesome part–food at the office, drinks after work, holiday parties each weekend, candy at the house–then hold yourself (and your friends) accountable to a nutrition challenge! Each time somebody shares a new recipe, they get a point. Each time someone goes to the gym, they get a point. Whichever way you decide, you can reinforce good eating habits and regular exercise through a challenge during the holidays, rather than thinking about all the ways to avoid temptations.

Plan ahead and don’t show up to the party starving. This one can be a no brainer for any time of the year. Planning meals ahead of time prevent us from making convenient, and often, unhealthy, quick, go-to options with food. Try creating 3-4 “go to” dishes or meals when you know that you’re short on time, or are just exhausted. This will prevent going the option of ordering take out. In addition, eating a small, balanced meal with protein, some veggies and a little bit of healthy fats can help prevent you from over-stuffing yourself at the next event.

Damage control and take responsibility for your indulgences. We all may choose to have our “cheat food” or “comfort food” during a party, or special occasion, but we can certainly take control and monitor just how much of that indulgence we are going to have. If you enjoy a glass of wine, set yourself a limit of 2, so that you don’t end up getting carried away having a whole bottle. Planning to eat a slice of pie is fine, but do you really need 3 slices? And at the end of the day, taking responsibility and planning ahead will make you feel empowered to take the reigns back for your next meal, and not sulk in the feelings of guilt or shame, potentially causing the downward spiral of your diet during this holiday season.

So simply put, there’s not much that’s too different with “staying on track” during the holidays if a healthy and fit lifestyle was something you may choose to adapt and implement for the rest of the year. At CrossFit Des Plaines, we’re here to support you through that process both with your fitness and nutrition. Schedule a Get Fit Start session today to find out how you can begin!

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