Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, November and December are prime months for people to put their health and fitness on the back burner. Family gatherings and holiday parties create plenty of opportunities for you to throw your cares to the wind and indulge on your favorite drinks, snacks, and “cheat meals.”

Trust me, you are not the only one struggling with this dilemma. Here are 5 things that you should be doing this holiday season to allow yourself to enjoy the holidays while remaining conscious of your health and fitness.

1. Stick with a consistent training program.

The great thing about your health and fitness is that you are going to get out of it exactly what you put into it. If you want to continue to make strides toward living a healthier life, creating a habit of consistent exercise is an absolute necessity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Your program should also include a strength training regimen that is safely designed with your goals and needs in mind.

2. Find a fitness buddy.

Even the most seasoned gym-goers occasionally find it difficult to get their workout done. It can be difficult to find the motivation day in and day out to go to the gym and get these workouts done. Having a partner to hold each other accountable can make all the difference. It is hard to say no to the gym when you know someone is already there waiting for you to show up to crush a workout together.

3. Be conscious of what you are eating when no one is watching.

The social pressures of holiday gatherings are probably the most difficult hurdle to overcome. Everyone makes their favorite recipes and encourages you to try this and try that. You don’t want to be the one who declines everything and sips on water while everyone enjoys the drinks and snacks of the holiday. I’m telling you that you can enjoy yourself and you can sample and try all of that good stuff!

There is a catch, though.

Be cognizant of your diet during those times when there are no other social pressures. Don’t take the left over pie and eat it for lunch at your desk throughout the following week. Save all of the sweets, snacks, and cheat meals for the social events. There will be plenty of them.

4. Avoid going to a party hungry.

There is a difference between having a serving of your aunt’s dessert that you look forward to every year and mindlessly binging on every dessert option at the party for a few hours. Those calories add up.

Fast.

Before heading out to a party, have a big salad, a protein shake, or whatever your go-to healthy meal option is. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay satiated and minimize that inevitable temptation to eat everything in sight.

5. Get back on track. Immediately.

We all fall off from time to time. It is okay! It is not okay to get down on yourself and live guilt-ridden for the next week. Let that night be what it was and move on. You don’t need to spend the next week going extra hard to make up for the night out.

One night of poor eating isn’t going to derail your health and fitness progress, just like one salad isn’t going to undo years of a poor diet. Get back to your routine, be consistent, and enjoy your holidays!

Sources

Bryant, C. X., Jo, S., & Green, D. J. (2014). Ace Personal Trainer Manual: Fifth Edition. San Diego, Ca.: American Council on Exercise.