We all know the struggle. The colossal battle that happens internally when you begrudgingly take yet another cookie from Grandma. The cookies are almost as sweet as she is, and how can you possibly say no after she spent all those hours making them “just for you?” They taste so good, and it feels good to make others happy. No one wants to stand around and watch their relative eat overtly healthy around the holidays. There is certain expectation that you will drink x amount of wine and eat x amount of cookies and have x amount of a “good time” with your family. It’s almost impossible to get away from actually. Misery does love company, and nothing illustrates that more than the subtle peer pressure your relatives apply to you during your holiday gatherings.
(I do realize I’m making my family out to be some horrible, high school clique – just stick with me)
But how do you handle saying “no” to Grandma, or convincing your cousin that you do not need another glass of that Pinot? Well, the trick that I’ve found works the best is not actually saying “no.” Go ahead, accept that plate of cookies from Grandma, and that third glass of Pinot from your cousin. Just don’t eat ALL of it. Easier said than done, I know, but only eat half a cookie, or a whole cookie if you still struggle with self-control like me. But, the real trick is to make sure you compliment your Grandma multiple times on how good the cookies are. All she’s looking for is some love and validation, and honestly, she shouldn’t have to try and seek that approval through cookies. (So, first off, tell your Grandma you love her even when there aren’t cookies involved.)
Cousins are a little easier; just turn it around on them and say that they obviously need more of a refill. Then proceed to barely sip on what you have, and revel in watching their face flush and the joviality that will surely follow. Drunk people watching is, IN FACT, the best people watching. Especially around the holidays.
Guide to Barely Surviving the Holidays:
- Mental health is as important as physical health. If you’re so distraught and anxious about food around the holidays, please just take a step back to realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will you destroy your fitness by having a few days of crappy eating. Yea, you will feel sluggish, your workouts will suffer for a few days, and there’s always a bit of guilt and frustration with yourself, but that all works out after you kick your own ass a bit.
- Drink Water. DRINK ALL THE WATER. Wake up, drink water. Work out, (obviously) drink water. Shower, drink water. Drink water for as long as you can during the day. I know it’s not ideal to try and alternate alcoholic beverages with water. I mean, ain’t nobody got time for that! So, I try to balance it out with being over hydrated beforehand, and chugging water right before you go to bed. It’s worked for me so far, and I still somehow get lumped into the outer fringes of the family’s “cool” circle. (barely)
- Eat the healthy food first. For anyone involved in fitness or just eating healthy, this is a no-brainer. Eat the peas, carrots, broccoli on your plate first. Then go for all the protein you can stomach. Follow that up with the sweet potato casserole if you’re still hungry, which you know is stuffed with large quantities of milk, more sugar, cream, and potentially marshmallows.
- Only put food on your plate that you desperately want to eat. My mother always taught me to clear my plate, no matter what was on it. I still have nightmares of a much younger me, forcing chicken enchiladas in my tear-streamed face as my mother sat and watched me. But enough of that childhood trauma. Honestly, when you line up for that massive feast, only fill your plate with small, manageable portions of what you’re really lusting after. Anything more, and you’ll eat it, but feel guilty about it. Knowing that you consciously made the choice to eat only what was on your plate is freeing and will put you in a positive mindset.
- Wake up early to work-out. If you followed my tip about drinking water, you hopefully won’t be hungover in the morning. And, if you’re not hungover, you can drag your butt out of bed and at a minimum hop on your indoor trainer or get outside for a run. Runs are an easy workout to plan around the holidays, because the equipment needed is minimal, and you can cut it short if necessary. Yes, you might freeze your ass off, but, your flushed face will feel the triumphant warmth when you step inside the house again. Even if you’re not a morning workout person, still wake up an hour earlier than normal, and get out there and get it done. If you don’t, I guarantee the day will run away from you, and soon it’ll be 5pm and you’ll be sitting around the fire with a beer in your hand and working out is the last thing you want to do. Just get up, sweat, and revel in that post-workout high.
I honestly could go on and on about ways to survive the holidays, and I might add more to this list if I think of any other good ones. But, the premise is simple: enjoy yourself, everything in moderation, and make time for your workout in the morning. Heck, the holiday season only really comes full-strength once a year, you can handle this easily! And jump back into things full-steam when the new year hits and you get to share the gym with all the “New Years Resolution” gym-goers. Just something to look forward to!