Overcome These 5 Obstacles This Holiday Season

Originally written and posted for Max Sports and Fitness Magazine


The holiday season is full of reasons to overindulge. Don’t let these five obstacles derail you from your ultimate goal of feeling good from the inside out!

Obstacle No. 1: Food Pusher Families

My family loves to love me through food. It is hard to respectfully decline a food item that took hours of preparation and is packed with love (and calories). Be firm when you respond. “No, thank you.” Don’t justify your decision or leave room for debate. Repeat “no, thank you” if needed until the conversation is dropped. After a time or two of not being able to talk you into seconds, the food pushers will retreat. Typically, the behavior comes from being able to coerce the person being pushed into more food or drink in the past, and when they see the “new you,” they will back off.

Consider bringing your family in on your fitness goals. Often, asking someone for support will go a long way and they will turn into your biggest ally over the holiday season. Most family members have good intentions and just need a little direction on how to show their love.

Obstacle No. 2: Homemade Goodies

The season of Grandma’s award-winning homemade treats is upon us. It can be hard to ignore the fear of missing out on a tasty treat and not having it again for another 365 days. Consider if any of the items can be frozen to take with you. I will have my family freeze cookies, extra ravioli, and my Auntie’s famous ricotta pie (can you guess I am from an Italian family?) to take with me. This helps me enjoy the time, eat some of the items I prefer in moderation, and avoid FOMO (fear of missing out).

Another idea if you can’t take anything with you is to have small amounts of each item. The first few bites of anything are the most delicious. Practice mindful eating regularly, especially leading up to the holidays. Savor each taste, texture, and see if you can name the flavors in every bite. You’ll be physically and psychologically satisfied on much less!

Stephanie Bernau, RN, BSN, and fitness coach likes to get moving with her family. She suggests taking a walk after dinner with the whole gang or rounding up the kiddos for a game of football. Not only will you burn extra calories while you bond, you’ll be less likely to snack mindlessly while watching TV or lounging.

Obstacle No. 3: Celebrations with Libations

Libations lower our inhibitions and our decision-making skills. Best to stay away from the buffet, says Christina Adams, RN, BSN, and fitness coach, “out of sight, out of mind.” She also recommends to moderate adult beverages by having two glasses of water after a cocktail. Christina will pile an initial buffet plate high with a greens salad, so she doesn’t hit the calorie-laden section starving.

When choosing a cocktail, keep in mind the calorie counts of holiday drinks and most mixers. I like to stick with a diet soda or club soda mixer and fresh lime or lemon in my cocktail. Red wine is a good choice, not only can you measure the amount of alcohol in wine with a glance, but you will also benefit from the antioxidants present in red wine.

Drink slowly. If you are thirsty, have a non-alcoholic beverage like water or unsweetened tea on hand to quench your thirst. Stay away from fruity sweet drinks that hide the alcohol content as you’ll likely be buzzed more than you’d like and have consumed much more than you hoped. If you live for egg nog, for instance, have a small amount and then change to a more calorie-friendly drink.

Obstacle No. 4: Traveling

Adding travel plans to the holiday season turns the short stints of a holiday party into week-long potential pitfalls. I like to bring staple items with me that are high in protein and low in carbohydrate and fats as holiday food is in no short supply of the latter. Max Pure Whey protein from Max Muscle Nutrition is a great choice, and I’ll mix a quick shake in the morning or even blend with my coffee for a protein boost that keeps me feeling satisfied until my next meal.

Feeling bloated post-flight is also common and frustrating when you have plans. Max Muscle’s Cleanse & Lean keeps me feeling tight as well as regular when I’m on the go. Between Cleanse & Lean and extra water, I am ready to wear (and comfortable in) my holiday party attire.

Don’t be shy to ask your host to stock up on a few of your staples or to borrow a vehicle for a quick grocery run. Compensate the expense and offer to pick up a few items needed for the celebration and most hosts are more than happy to reciprocate. Gather fresh fruits and veggies and chop them up, so they are ready to eat. Get a few light condiments like yogurt dressing or Greek yogurt cream cheese for meals at home so you can save calories for the event. A stocked fridge will help you stay on course at family members’ homes. The bonus is you are setting one heck of an example for your loved ones, and often my family members have left our time together with a refreshed sense of motivation for the New Year.

Obstacle No. 5: Time Constraints

The holidays take away our precious free time due to shopping, planning, volunteering, or visiting others. Hit the gym for your strength training but focus more on NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) for your cardio. NEAT is the calorie burn you achieve without traditional exercise. I love wearing my iWatch and challenging myself to extra steps per day when I can’t hit the gym. You can even add your friends and have a little holiday competition. You’ll be amazed at the steps that amount with all of the errands in November and December!

If you have trouble getting to the gym, don’t be afraid to snag an at-home program (try our eBook) and make due with the time you have. Body weight training is a great way to maintain your fitness in any space with even as little as 15 minutes. Plyometrics, when you wake up at your bedside, will get your blood pumping and energize you for the day. The gym is all around you!

Remember, there is more to enjoy this holiday season besides food and drink. Focus on your connections to others and growing your relationships. Notice the luxuries of having food provided for you and the atmosphere, especially if you are dining at a restaurant. Taking your mind off of indulging will open your eyes to all of the beauty of the season.