OWW Blog

From licensed healthcare providers who are experts in their field

A Sports Dietitian's Top 4 Tips to Enjoy the Holidays (and still get gains!)

Nov 22, 2023

Written By: Lauren MacLeod


Everyone has their own feelings about the holidays. Some people love the music, while others love to cook. However, the holidays can also be stressful. Many athletes feel like they have to balance family time, eating more and different foods than normal, and changing up your training routine. Fear not! Here are my top four tips for enjoying the holidays, reducing stress, and returning to your typical routine – without sidelining your training.

1. Continue to eat normally on holidays – that means no skipping meals

It’s standard practice in many households to “save up” for a big holiday dinner by not eating breakfast or lunch. When you go too long between meals, such as longer than 4-5 hours, your blood sugar begins to drop. When your blood sugar drops, you may feel fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and changes in mood–ie “hanger”. There’s no joy found in a cranky family on the holidays.

In addition to feeling pretty crappy, you’re more likely to eat beyond the point of satisfaction. The further you push yourself towards hunger, the more your body compensates when it is actually presented with food. Entering a meal just a little hungry, rather than ravenous, makes it easier to slow down and enjoy every bite. Eating just a little slower increases feelings of satisfaction, plus it makes it easier to tune into your body’s fullness cues. 


2. Move joyfully 

The holidays are not the time to fixate on training. Travel, family time, and being away from your home gym or mountain are all reasons why maintaining a training plan can be difficult. Use a holiday weekend as an excuse for your body to rest. Even if you ate a lot and moved only a little for a few days in a row, you won’t derail your training. If you do choose to move, use it as an opportunity to bond with family (or for some quiet solo time if you need it). Some easy, feel-good examples include:

  • Going for a walk around the neighborhood, or hiking on local trails if your family is up for it. Bring some hot cocoa or cider to stay warm!

  • Skiing, the ideal winter sport! Skiing and boarding are fun AND excellent exercise.

  • Take a local yoga class with a family member. This is especially nice if you’re feeling chilly and want to go somewhere warm

  • Play a pickup game, like football or soccer

  • Just stretch it out! After traveling or sitting for long periods, a nice stretch can be just what you need


3. Shut down diet talk

Let’s not bring diet talk to the table. You may be tempted to remark on the calories in a meal, or how you’ll have to “make up” for your meal later–but let’s leave that alone. It’s equally important to shut down diet talk from friends and family as well. Here some common phrases you may hear at the dinner table, along with an example of respectfully shutting them down:

  • “Have you gained/lost weight?”

    • “I don’t know, how are you?”

  • “Wow, that ___ must have so many calories in it!”

    • “I’m really enjoying this special meal. All foods fit for me.”

  • “I’m going to have to work off all this food tomorrow with a run!”

    • “You don’t have to punish yourself for eating; it’s just one meal/one holiday.”

  • “I’ll start my juice cleanse tomorrow; today I’ll be bad.”

    • “Food isn’t good or bad; did it steal something?"

Remember, you’re not obligated to respond either. You can simply walk away if you don’t want to be part of diet talk. 


4. Finally: go back to eating and training normally after the holiday

There’s no need to start a diet, juice cleanse, challenge, resolution, etc after a holiday (or even after the whole holiday season). The holidays are such a short span of time; between trips and meals, make sure you’re returning to your typical routine as much as possible – eating the same foods, training the same amount, etc. This is NOT the time to ramp up training either, as your sessions will likely be a bit more scattered than usual. Maintaining the same schedule at home will help you feel more relaxed amidst the chaos of changing holiday routines.

Outdoor Women's Wellness 

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