Ten Strategies for an Athlete to Survive the Holidays

/ Sword Performance

Tis' the season for holiday office parties, family gatherings, and all too familiar cold weather.
Each of these can make the holiday season quicksand to our training regimen.
Sword Dietitian Emily Gimm provides you with ten easy strategies you can use to survive the holidays.

Emily Gimm Sword Dietician and Director of Athletic Relations Blog Footer Biography

1) Maintain those healthy habits during the week.
If you have a routine of meal planning and exercising, aim to keep that schedule during the holiday season.  Focus on getting in nutrient dense meals and snacks to offset the holiday parties that will arise.

  • 2) Take time to breathe.
  • Each day, focus on taking four deep breaths, calm in, and four deep breaths out, stress out. Our lungs are stressed through cardiovascular workouts, so in the cool crisp air this winter, give them a chance to acclimate to the environment. As an athlete, we always have our breath as mechanisms to measure success, and remember it's the easiest way to calm our nerves during competition! 

  • 3) Schedule an activity for the whole family!
    So its the off-season, so what? We have to stay active, and what better way to stay motivated than with your friends & family? Is there a local holiday 5K that you can sign up for? What about a family hike, game of kickball or tag?  How about attending a group fitness class with a friend? Aim to do something new and active outside of your normal training routine with family and friends this holiday season. Show them just how fun exercise can be! ☺

  • 4) Get enough Zzzzzzzz.

  • This off-season are you sleeping enough?  When the body is deprived of sleep, it produces more ghrelin, “the hunger hormone” and you may feel hungrier! This can cause unwanted weight gain and fitness loss.  Sleep is important to regulate your hunger and your mental clarity. Additionally, the hormones out at night while you sleep are essential for muscle recovery and repair.

  • 5) Grazing is for animals.

  • During the holidays, it can be a time when you walk by appetizers and you graze. Save the graze for the animals, and instead grab a plate.  Serve yourself a small portion of those appetizers, so you can gauge how much you are actually consuming during the holidays.

  • 6) What do you bring to the pot-lucks? 

  • Let’s be honest, you’re an athlete. Bring a vegetable and/or fruit tray to every food-related holiday event.  It gives you and your guests an opportunity to eat the rainbow; get in some quality vitamins, minerals, and fiber at these holiday parties!

  • 7) Move.
  • In the midst of the holidays, our training can be temporarily put on the back burner. While rest is important to recover in the off-season, keep your legs limber.  After a meal, exercise  may improve digestion, so get the family moving after the holiday meal. Maybe this will be a new tradition for the holidays!

  • 8) Get out of the kitchen.
  • So often, group gatherings revolve around food and people linger in the kitchen.  Have intentional activities so that you can enjoy your family and friend time outside the kitchen.  Provide a few snacks (popcorn, veggie and fruit tray, nuts, pretzels) and make the activity your main focus.

  • 9) Go alcohol-free Sunday through Thursday.

  • If you like to have alcohol in your evening, aim to cut it out during the week especially during the holidays. These empty calories will add up overtime and with the added holiday festivities, this may be a ritual to cut out during this season.  If you choose to drink, do so in moderation.

    10) Have gratitude. 
    During the holidays, journal each day and write down what you are grateful for. It can be a bulleted list or an essay. The act of journaling will improve your happiness and you will be able to reflect on all the positive moments. These writings can be powerful tools to help you blast through a tough workout during the season.  After all, the holidays are a time to count our blessings.


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