enjoy the holidays and stay fit

The Red Zone: How to Enjoy the Holidays and Stay Fit

The holiday eating starts October 31st with Halloween, cruises through Thanksgiving, skids through a December of holiday parties, cookie making with the kids, baking quick breads for neighborhood gifts, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day delights, Ah-Screw-It the week between Christmas and New Years Eve partying, much-too-busy-for-the-gym excuse making, New Years day regret and then January 2nd, suddenly we look up. The scale is not our friend on this day. The pounds we lost over the summer have returned and they brought friends.

We know we could, in theory, buckle down. One year I decided I was going to white knuckle my way through the holiday season. I did it, too — only to binge my way through January.

It IS possible to enjoy the holidays and stay fit. Here is what I’ve found to work:

  • Continue to exercise, in some form or fashion. Keeping up with our workouts, even if it seems like an exercise in futility, is worth it. (Don’t mind the pun.) I remember once I was in a step class at the gym the week before Christmas and the instructor said, “It smells like sugar cookies in here.” I think we were all sweating sugar. But we were in there doing it. Besides burning some calories, continued workouts help me keep a fitness mindset. Just do something.
  • Create an eating strategy. I have a strategy I use for events like parties, buffets and other places I know there will be lots of yummy foods. I look at all the choices first, and choose one or two foods I really want to savor. I pick foods I wouldn’t normally be able to have. Cheese cubes are great but I could have those any time. A special home-made dessert is more worthy of a calorie splurge.
  • Keep Christmas cookies and other treats out of sight. The last few years we’ve started storing the Christmas baked goods out of the kitchen. We keep some in our basement storage pantry and some in the garage freezer. I still know they are there but at least it’s out of my constant sight compared to on the kitchen counter.
  • Pare down the Christmas baking. There’s nothing wrong with making Christmas cookies with our kids, but instead of 6 different types, maybe 2 types are enough.
  • Keep people as the focus. Ultimately the holiday isn’t about the food. Enjoying the people surrounding us and treasuring the gifts of the holidays — thankfulness for all God has done for us and the gift of Jesus is what matters.

What holiday strategies have worked for you? Are the holidays an especially challenging time for you when it comes to faithful fitness?




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