Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, Oh My! 8 Ways To Stay Healthy During The Holiday Season

Diving into the holiday season lean and leaving the holiday season leaner would be the best gift ever, right?

There would be nothing more amazing than getting very fit and making personal me time throughout the holidays so that you come out even better in the New Year.

But how is this possible when every year you gorge your way through the holidays and make the same everlasting resolution: to drop your holiday weight?

It’s simple: avoid the holiday weight gain altogether.

Here’s how.

holiday season

How To Stay Healthy During The Holidays

1. Change your exercise routine.

Find something new and exciting so that you feel challenged in your workout, keeping you focused so that you can get better at the new routine.

When you have something new, it keeps things fresh and exciting, motivating you to want to show up for it regularly.

Related: 6 Ways To Start And Stick With A Spring Exercise Plan

Remember: get in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week.

2. Start planning your “treat” days in advance.

In my book, I’ve highlighted that you should eat junk food twice a month. Don’t feel bad about it these times, but get back to optimal eating right away.

Look at your calendar now and plan those treat days in advance so that you know you have to stay healthy all other days.

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Related: 3 Ways To Get Back Into The Game After A Diet Failure

3. Buy your New Year ’s Eve outfit now so that you fit in it 3 months from now.

As farfetched as this may seem, you will be forced to behave well during the holidays because there is nothing worse than not fitting into your cute (or, for my male readers, “classy”) New Year’s Eve outfit.

If you wish to not only remain the same weight, but lose a few pounds by then, get your New Year’s Eve outfit right before Thanksgiving. This can foster the same results for remaining on track for the holidays.

Related: 7 Tips For Eating Healthy During The Holidays

4. Cut out all high-glycemic carbohydrates for the next three months.

Even though I recommend eating a low glycemic diet anyway, if you truly commit to it, your body will feel leaner and your cravings will diminish on this plan, decreasing the likelihood of picking candy or cookies up from the company kitchen.

5. Choose a holiday buddy: someone who shares the same lifestyle goals as you.

Perhaps someone else doesn’t want to pack on the pounds this holiday season, and you can hold each other accountable. Call each other each week for a weekly chat and debriefing session.

You can even consider running a 4th quarter “healthy holiday challenge” with friends, family, or co-workers. Make it a friendly competition to keep everyone lean and fit during the holidays.

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For example, for the holiday parties and office meetings, all food must be low glycemic, and each member must announce how many minutes of physical activity they did so far for the week, no matter when the meeting is held.

Related: 5 Ways You Can Be A Healthy Family (While Still Having Fun!)

You can even have posters up in the kitchen that depicts water intake, exercise minutes, or something else that you decide might keep people motivated through the holidays.

Consider pooling $25 per person so that at the end of the quarter if everyone hits their goal, then that money treats the group to a night out of bowling and fun, which is excellent for team building (and for family and friends, just fun!).

What To Do Once The Holidays Get Here

Once these tools are in place, and the holidays come, you can rest assure that you will remain on track if you follow these three tools:

1. Eat before every holiday party that you go to.

If you go very hungry, you will eat out of proportion to what is right for you, leaving you feeling bad after. If you eat a healthy meal prior to the party, you will most likely reduce your calories overall at the party.

2. It is always best to do intervals before going out.

Not to encourage anyone to drink or party, but if you know that you might be off your plan, then do a high intensity interval program to rev up your metabolism for the night.

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Even though bad eating will never be good, at least your metabolism is better equipped to burn through those additional calories compared to if you didn’t exercise prior.

Related: 4 Benefits Of Interval Training

3. Make sure you get enough sleep.

Many times your blood sugar and insulin levels are more erratic if you fail to catch your zzz’s. This will significantly increase your cravings the next day, making it very hard to resist that candy cane or gingerbread man.

On average, you should get at least 7 hours of good sleep each night.

The Takeaway

The holidays are a time filled with fun and merriment, but that fun can translate to unhealthy habits and weight gain. However, you can stay healthy—and keep all the merriment! By following these tips, you’ll get through the holiday season happy and healthy.


JennJenn Zerling, MS, CPT, also known as JZ, is a fitness expert, global presenter, author of Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools.  Her mission: to break the chains of obesity in America.  JZ has her first nutrition app coming out on iphones October 2014, called JZ FITNESS.  Follow Jenn Zerling, MS, CPT: Facebook,TwitterInstagramYoutube.

Photo by hi hello scout

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