Dieting during the holidays doesn’t have to be a bore…in fact, you can have your Christmas cookies and abs, too! One of the principles that I adhere to year round is balance. What exactly is that, you ask? Quite simply, this means that nothing is ever completely off limits. I make healthy choices the majority of the time with my meals so that when I do want to have a few cookies, go back for seconds at Thanksgiving or have an extra slice of holiday pie, I do so and I don’t worry about it derailing my fitness one bit.


The main rule that I abide by during the holidays (and advise my clients to do the same) is this: Understand and recognize that there are going to be “temptations” everywhere you look, that co-workers are going to be bringing in treats to the office, that the holiday parties are going to be full of egg nog and wine, every store is going to be filled with packaged sweet treats packaged in cartoon a cartoon Santa or reindeer. This is all inevitable, so just face the facts.  I think it’s safe to say we have all over indulged a ton when it comes to holiday eats (heck, I know I have)

  • If you’re going out, don’t skip the gym! Yes, we have social engagements to attend nearly each week during the holiday season, but a simple way to help keep you on track (while you get to have a few of your favorite treats) is to make a little deal with yourself. If you’re going to a holiday event tonight, make sure you get in a quick workout (I’m talking even squeezing in a 20 min at home workout if you’re really that pressed for time) and then eat a healthy meal before attending the event. While there, go ahead and try a few of your favorites, have that glass of wine.


  • Is there something that only comes around once a year (and no, I’m not talking about this Pumpkin Spice latte madness where it’s out for an entire season during each year) around the holidays that you really, truly enjoy? If so, skip the prepackaged goodies that you can get at the store any time of the year (for example, packaged cookies, chips, etc., that may be brought into the office, at a holiday party, etc.) and instead have your favorite Christmas cookie or enjoy that pie your aunt makes each Thanksgiving. Just don’t do it every day. By skipping the food items that we can get anywhere year-round and opting to have that chocolate cherry cake your Grandma makes on Christmas Eve or those cookies you bake with your kids for the holidays, etc., you’ll be able to enjoy some holiday treats without going over the top and derailing all of the hard work you’ve put in leading up to the holidays.


  • Always have a meal or snack handy with you. This comes back to being prepared, just as you are throughout the rest of the year. Keeping snack items with you at all times makes for a quick and easy solution when you’re pressed for time, are running from one holiday event to the next, etc., and if you have some snack items with you (protein powder to make a shake real quick, a protein bar, almonds, cashews, etc) it will help deter you from making a really unhealthy choice that’s likely to happen if you wait too long to eat. I do this whenever I travel and especially during the holidays- it’s saved me countless times.


  • Don’t forget all of the healthy habits you’ve developed over the years and everything you’ve practiced with your health and fitness leading up to the holidays. Remind yourself that simply because the holidays are here, that doesn’t give us a free pass to go on a sugar binge for the 4-6 weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Maintain as many of those healthy habits that you’ve worked so hard for and you’ll be thanking yourself when January 1 rolls around.


  • Remind yourself that even if you don’t have time to get to the gym for your full length normal workout, every bit does count. Normally have 60 minutes of gym time after work during the week and during the holidays it’s cut in half? No big deal, just don’t give in to the “all or nothing” approach and skip out. Switch your workouts up to be higher in intensity, or switch your workout split up during the holidays for the number of days that it IS realistic for you to get to the gym. Arm yourself with a few at home workouts that you can do as well, so on the days where you’re really pressed for time you’re still able to get in something (even if it’s a bodyweight circuit workout) rather than skipping a workout altogether. I abide by this when I’m on the road traveling for work and gym access isn’t consistent. Instead of viewing this as an inconvenience I look at it as an opportunity to mix things up from my “usual” gym routine at home and to keep my body guessing.


  • As with anything, consistency is key. Make a promise to yourself that you won’t skip more than 2-3 days in a row of workouts during the holidays and hold yourself accountable to this. Meet a friend at the gym or a training class, and then go Christmas shopping together, multi-task and do a bodyweight workout at home while your Christmas cookies are baking in the oven. Have fun, get creative, and of course, enjoy your holidays!