'Tis the season for cookies, eggnog, pie, traveling, family gatherings, work parties, candy canes, and the list goes on... It can be tough to get through the busy holiday season, and even harder to try to stick with an exercise and diet plan. If you find yourself feeling guilty after a having a few drinks at the office party, or anxious staring at the cookies at the family get-together, I have a bit of advice for you: Think big picture.
In an article published in the CrossFit Journal, certified sports nutritionist Lindsey Liddiard explains that, "I’m all about letting people cheat a bit and enjoy life, as this life only comes around once... It is all about balance, so it doesn’t mean eating a dozen cookies, but it does mean eating your grandma’s favorite cookie that she only makes once a year... And always remember if you slip up and have one too many (candies), don’t beat yourself up over it. You won’t lose all the positive gains that you’ve made." Liddiard works with CrossFit games athletes helping them achieve their maximum potential, so it's safe to say she knows a think or two.
In a recent article titled Keep your health habits on track during the holidays, Dr. Beth Frates, clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, agrees that the occasional treat isn't a bad thing this time of year. "If you do have a day that doesn't go as planned and you revel and have excessive fun, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow, set a new goal, and move forward," says Dr. Frates.
Waving the white flag in defeat will just make it harder for you to get back on track when the New Year rolls around. The article also suggests tracking your habits. "Food logs, activity trackers, fitness watches, or even a simple calendar are good ways to keep tabs on how often you are exercising. Tracking your daily progress can make you more conscious of your health habits and alert you when you're starting to slide." Our gym uses SugarWOD for workout tracking, and I've personally used MyFitnessPal to track food and keep myself accountable.
If this doesn't convince you that it's ok to ease up off the gas pedal through the holidays, let's take an 10,000 foot mathematical view of the situation...
4 workouts/week = 208 workouts/year or roughly 16-18 workouts/month
Is your fitness going to plummet if one month you can only squeeze in 14 workouts? No.
Now take that same mentality and approach your nutrition.
If you only eat 3 meals per day, that's 1,095 opportunities each year to make smart decisions about how you're fueling your body.
Even Mat Fraser, Lebron, or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would fall short of being 100% on those kind of numbers. In the grand scheme of things, as long as you approach the holiday treats with moderation, and get your workouts in when you can, you're going to be just fine.