7 Strategies to Avoid Under-Training & Over-Eating during the Holidays

November 23, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Brooks Running blog as a guest post I authored about healthy holiday tips. A recent article in Runner’s World said 50 percent of weight gain occurs during the period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. 

The holiday season is one of the most wonderful times of the year, but it can be a challenging period for healthy eating and running performance. Holiday parties, a monsoon of baked goods at the office, treats to deliver to the kids’ school and family feasts create a mountain of temptations that can easily get out of control. Here are seven ideas to help you successfully survive the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s without unraveling your training or healthy habits.

7 healthy holiday tips on runladylike.com

1. Start your day with a workout.

During the holiday season (and all year-round), beginning your morning with a run or workout can encourage you to make better choices throughout the day. One healthy choice often leads to another in a domino effect – giving you more energy and will power as the hours pass by. From avoiding eating too many sweet treats at the office to scheduling your workouts for the rest of the week, good decisions often lead to more good decisions.

2. Sign up for a holiday-themed race (or two).

One of the best ways to ensure your running doesn’t wane during the holidays is to schedule a race to keep you focused on your goals. There are tons of holiday-themed races that can make the end of your running year merry and bright – from neighborhood turkey trots to jingle bell runs. Gather friends to make it a fun, social event, consider wearing a festive or themed running outfit or use a holiday 5K as a tempo run for the week.

3. Be a thoughtful guest.

Worried about making healthy food choices with all the holiday parties you have to attend? If the number of social events on your calendar during November and December is making your head spin, don’t arrive empty-handed. Offer to bring a drink and dish that are on the healthier side but will still leave you and other guests satisfied. Whether it’s a fruit salad, veggie and hummus platter or healthier take on a holiday dessert, keep your nutrition goals in check by contributing a healthy item to the overflowing party table.

4. Make it a family affair.

In my family, Thanksgiving and Christmas always include a family fitness activity to get us all moving together. On Thanksgiving morning, we run a local turkey trot and then play a game of basketball after our big meal. On Christmas, we often begin the day with a family run or walk. Incorporating physical activity or running into a holiday filled with indulgence can help the entire family burn some calories together while making fond memories.

5. Be a streaker.

Many runners choose to participate in holiday running streaks. To keep yourself motivated, consider committing to running or walking at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. You’ll often find yourself going longer and/or incorporating other activities like strength training once you start. Or, perhaps consider setting a steps goal each day and committing to achieve that (e.g. 10,000 steps per day).

6. Try something new.

With more time off from school or work during the holidays, now is the perfect time to try a new workout. Use a day off to attend a barre class, boot camp workout or new spin session you’ve been dying to try. Sometimes a little variety is all we need to stay stimulated and motivated with our fitness routine.

7. Don’t wait until January 1.

Every day is a chance to make good choices and to stay on track. Each morning is another opportunity to take small steps toward accomplishing our health goals. From running a marathon to losing 10 pounds to being able to do five pull-ups unassisted, whatever your next fitness goal is, it can start today. Don’t wait until the New Year. The holidays are a great time to pave the way for your success in 2017.

Looking for a fun way to use your race medals as holiday decorations? Read this article on how to turn your medals into ornaments.

What healthy holiday tips do you have to stay on track? What is the best holiday race you’ve ever participated in?