It’s hard to believe that American Thanksgiving is just a bit over a week away as I type this, which means the holiday season truly is upon us. And while most fitness articles written around this time of year center around how to stay healthy at holiday parties and how to sneak exercise into your routine (Turkey Trots, anyone?), we know that for our crowd, often, another important piece of advice is even more crucial: Chill out.
Yes, overdoing it at holiday parties a few times a week now through the new year can be a bit tough on your training, and put you in a hole come January. But most of us aren’t partying quite that hard, and it’s more a small handful of days that are packed with family, friends, food and travel that can interfere with our usual nutrition and training programs.
So, consider this your reminder to relax. It’s OK if you miss a run or ride, or even a couple! It’s OK if your 2 hour ride gets cut to a 45 minute spin, or if your 10 mile run is shifted to a 5K. It’s OK to enjoy the second piece of pie on Thanksgiving.
Most of us are in the offseason at this point, and we can veer a little bit off course.
I highly recommend checking out our podcast last week with registered dietitian Caroline Burkholder, who talked all about offseason eating, holidays, and race weight in this most recent episode. It’s a great one heading into this time of year!
It’s only a problem if these things become habitual and you’re not just having the second piece of pie at Grandmas, you’re also going for second dessert on a Tuesday after skipping your intervals. That’s not an issue most of us have. Most of us need the reminder that spending Christmas morning with our families enjoying presents and coffee is much more fulfilling than sneaking in that early AM 10 miler and missing the the kids checking to see if Santa came.
It’s great if you can sneak in your training without disturbing the peace. You should be having some protein and veggies at dinner, regardless of what’s being served. You probably would do better to skip that third glass of wine in favor of a glass of sparkling water.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good this season. If you have a few days this season where you let yourself fully enjoy the extra cookie without any of the guilt, that’s OK.
Above all, if you do go a little HAM on ham at the holiday party, don’t punish yourself the next day by heading out on a five-hour fasted sufferfest. Just wake up and get back to your normal routine. Have a healthy breakfast with some protein and some veggies, and do the workout that’s on your schedule. We tend to think we’re making up for so-called ‘bad behavior’ by beating ourselves up in the gym the next day, but that’s just going to set us back even further.
Ideally, none of this will come as a shock. Take some time this week and look at the month ahead: What days do you know are going to be busy with travel, friends, family, parties or other work events that will mess with your training schedule? Write those in, and shift your training accordingly. Often, we end up feeling even worse about ourselves because we don’t bother to make any changes for the holidays, then are shocked by our inability to make time for everything. Pre-plan those off-days to correspond with the busy days, and you won’t have to debate missing intervals in favor of going to watch your kiddo’s holiday pageant!