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CrossFiter’s Guide to Holiday Survival

December 11, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

We’re well into the holiday ‘season’ (you know that giant meal between Halloween & New Years) and it can be a ittle too easy to skip a workout and be a little crazy with the meals and parties – a few tips and some advice from the folks at Tabata Times, for not falling too far off the wagon during the holidays and being able to get back on the wagon seemed in order for today.

It’s that time of year again…the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, during which your time and focus is split so many different ways that it’s difficult to maintain focus in your training and eating.

Your Approach to Training

So, what are some of the ways that you can deal with this period – so that at the very least, you have a plan that you are committed to? (That is, other than the default, “Whatever…it’s the holidays…I’ll get started again in January.”)

1. Give yourself a break.

Literally. Identify a 2-week period between Thanksgiving and New Years that you are going to TAKE OFF. And take it off! Completely! Now to make this effective, it means that during the other four weeks, you need to be as committed as ever to your diet and training.

2. STAPLE workout.

Identify ONE thing that is your staple. Something you like doing that takes almost ZERO effort. Commit to this on the days where normal training simply isn’t an option. Here are some ideas: run, stretch, mobilize, burpees, push-ups/sit ups. Once you’ve got the movement(s), pick a time domain and/or a rep scheme. Write it down. This is your STAPLE workout. Here are the steps to take to do this:

  • Choose 1, 2 or 3 movements (e.g. run, push ups)
  • Decide how much time you have (10, 15, 20 min)
  • Pick either “for time” or “as many rounds in X min” format
  • Decide a distance / reps for each movement
  • 3, 2, 1… GO!
  • Use the workout suggestions in the 2nd half of this guide to make it a “no-brainer” for yourself. All are designed to be fast and effective and take no time to get started, because they don’t require driving anywhere. You could even do it with another person to make it a bit more challenging.
3. Turn your normal workout time into family/friend adventure time.

Get out and mountain bike, surf, ski, snowboard, in-line skate, take a hike, go climbing. I know – it’s hard to consider “fun” activities like these actual workouts, but guess what…they are!! Relax. Enjoy. Have fun!

4. Watch TV from the floor…

If you’re even half human or you have kids, you’re definitely going to be spending more time than usual in front of the TV (specials, movies, football, etc). Make this time your workout and/or your mobilization time. It’s very easy to SAY this, and then not get your ass up off the couch when the TV’s on. This will definitely test your commitment. Try this – NO couch or comfy chair…all TV watching must be done from the floor.


The other half (or more) of the equation is the food choices you make over the holidays. Talk about a difficult time of the year to stay on a diet, not eat sugar, stay away from deserts, cookies, treats! I find it almost impossible. Another problem: going to holiday meals/gatherings, people tend to eat HUGE quantities of food because the food is so great (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Day, etc.). Last but definitely not least: alcohol & other drinks – beer, wine, eggnog, holiday coffee drinks, etc. Here are some suggestions for dealing with food over the holidays:

1. Again, give yourself a break.

Identify one event every week over this period that you’ll let yourself go to and enjoy…put NO limits on yourself for this event. Goal is to not be a total GLUTTON, and not get WASTED…but give yourself a timeout from your normal disciplined eating. Remember that for this to work effectively; you’ve got to keep yourself on track during all the other meals and events you’re attending that week.

2. Pick ONE vice that you’re going to allow yourself to have over the holidays – JUST ONE.

Set your weekly limit…and then decide how you’re going to allocate it over the course of the week. It should feel slightly challenging. For instance, one glass of wine every day would NOT be much of a limit (unless you regularly have 2 glasses per day); however, 3 glasses per week might work.

3. Some advice for big dinners…

While I wouldn’t say you have to RSVP ‘no’ just to maintain your diet, it is a very good idea to go in with a plan. Two suggestions here:

  1. Never attend a holiday dinner hungry. Eat normally all day prior to dinner…and then eat a healthy snack just before you go. It won’t guarantee that you won’t overeat, but at least it will reduce your chances of stuffing yourself.
  2. Pick one indulgence each dinner. Allow yourself to have this, but be super strict on the other elements of that meal.


Here’s the deal: the ideas above are just that – ideas. You could make a case for them ALL ‘sounding good’, especially when just sitting here reading them. Turning any of them into action is quite another story…and it’s the other piece of the puzzle. That said, prior to the start of this holiday period, read through these ideas and choose 1 from each category (Training / Nutrition) that you’re willing to be committed to. WRITE IT DOWN. PRINT IT OUT. HANG IT ON YOUR COMPUTER, ON YOUR BATHROOM MIRROR, ON YOUR REFRIGERATOR – wherever you know you’ll see it and read it.

To step it up another notch: choose a dollar amount you’re willing to be accountable for if you DON’T do what you commit to. Also pick a recipient whom you’d rather not pay. Then if/when you don’t do what you said you’d do, write the check. If you made it a large enough sum, believe me, you will start living up to your word.


Use your common sense and enjoy the holiday season. What advice or tips do you have for how to take a healthy approach to the holidays?

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