Habits of Fit People: Treat a Holiday Like It's Any Other Day

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: Treating a holiday like any other day. So why does something like this matter?

With all the food, parties, and social commitments they bring, holidays and other special occasions often cause people to fall off the fitness wagon. Sometimes it's not just a single day either: one bad day can turn into many, especially when temptation lurks around every corner for weeks on end!

That's why fit people treat holidays like any other day. They make time for their workouts, eat moderately, and avoid going overboard on food or undercutting their activity for the day.

Case in point: Even though I was busy hosting and cooking a Thanksgiving feast for 11 last week, I still made time for a 3-mile run that morning (and a Spinning class the day before, and Pilates the day after). Sure, I was busy and a little stressed, and skipping my workout might have been easier. But fitness is a part of my life, no matter what life throws my way, and I know it makes me feel great. Working out on Thanksgiving wasn't an afterthought. It was something that I thought about and planned in advance. And when it came time to enjoy a bounty of delicious foods, I filled my plate once (since that's what I'd do during any other non-holiday meal), and chose the right portions of all my favorites.

Why It Works: When you treat a holiday like any other day, you set yourself up for success. You still get to enjoy the traditions and special foods, but you don't have to feel guilty for doing so. Plus when you make time for fitness, you'll usually think twice before overeating later.

Do you work out and eat healthy on holidays? Or do you have trouble sticking to your fitness and eating habits on special occasions?

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FISHGUT3 7/19/2020
thanks Report
YMWONG22 7/2/2020
Thank you. Report
Christmas and New Years I enjoy the treats. I don't get too far out of hand though Report
Thank you Report
Thank you Report
Good info! Report
Yes keep moving, walking is a good way of moving Report
Accidentally posted twice . . . sorry Report
I may be talking semantics here but I don't agree with the title . . . I think the suggestions are indeed sensible, but I think it is not necessarily true that "fit people" have this habit. There are MANY fit people out there who do not need to worry about this at all. And it's not that they don't indulge or that they make sure that they follow their routines even over holidays, it is simply that their metabolisms are such that they don't need to watch what they eat and make sure they stick to their routine. My husband is one of these lucky folks :-) He has a pretty loose exercise routine and even at 58 can eat pretty much whatever he wants without gaining. The worst he suffers if he misses a week of his usual routines is he's a little stiffer after getting back on his skates for hockey or going back to the gym. Lucky man!

I on the other hand DO have to watch it. So, thanks for the good advice! I guess my only "complaint" (if you want to call it that) is that I don't like blanket generalizations which diminish the credibility (for me anyway) of the statement/article. Report
I tend to eat all those greasy, fatty, spicy but (un)fortunately delicious festive foods and all those cookies that only can found during festive seasons. So, for this year, I'll change my old routine - do my workouts, even though have to wake up very, very early during holidays. Maybe still hard to change the "festive eating habit" but by doing workout, I think it will help to not too overly dig in :D Report
Xmas and News Years are days when I'm not going to count calories. No exercise either. I also did it on my birthday. I don't stuff myself but I don't count calories. If I want junk food then I have some. It's just three days out of 365, plus I get back on plan the following day. Report
I walked in the local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, and then on Christmas Day, I got out and walked 3 miles on my own. It really balanced out the food on those days! Report
KInd of yes and kind of no. I'm going for a 60-100 percent healthy eating plan for the holidays. I was feeling too deprived and had some bad behavior as a result (big bag of m&m's) and am feeling a little more sane. Am working out most days and going for a week long ski vacation tomorrow. Happy New Year to all! Report
I like the idea of treating holidays like any other day and I do it successfully on President's day or Columbus day. But I have a long experience of failure when it comes to Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and any other family filled holidays. I decided his year that I wasn't going to bake and cook lots and lots of goodies but there are certain things that the family expects me to bring. I know that I should just say no and take healthy food but I don't. Holidays remain, for me, a time to get through and hope for some damage control. I am planning to still get out and walk and to stick to one plate of food but my mind is already saying that it probably won't happen because it never has before. I need to overcome this trap of predicted failure because my thoughts will influence my actions.. Report
Now I aim to eat healthier and get my exercise in. This is a real big accomplishment for me. My doctor told me that the holidays is just one day not the whole month. Report
I unfortunately during the holidays I have a hard time keeping to my fitness and eating habits. Since starting on sparkpeople I have survived many extended family meals that are never healthy and a party. My worry though is when I travel home to visit my family. I will be in a house with several different types of junk food and meals do not revolve around being healthy. I have also been doing yoga on the weekends and other strength training exercises during the week. All my equipment will not fit in the car and will have to find space to exercise in my families crowded house. I would love to return home with keeping my weight the same and making sure I control/monitor what I eat and make myself excersize even if it is in front of my brother-in-laws. And of course, I hope to keep up with sparkpeople and hold myself accountable on here.

do you have trouble sticking to your fitness and eating habits on special occasions? Report
I totally agree. The holiday is just one more day out of 365 in the year. As I said on another blog, I believe the tradition of baking and eating so many sweets and rich, heavy foods is very outdated, or should be, given that we live much more sedentary lives now than we did even just 50 years ago. For my family Christmas Eve party, we are having a light, healthy meal, and no heavy foods or rich cookies. We will have one light dessert made with lots of fruit.

Christmas Day is another story - its at the in-laws, and food is the center focus of everything, all year long, not just at the holidays. My MIL will watch me, and continue to push various foods on me, so I'll probably just take my own car, and not stay the whole time, just for as long as I am comfortable. Report
Actually, I'm not going to follow the fit people trend here. One of the things I've re-learned sincejoining SparkPeople is that some foods are every day foods and some foods are special occasion foods. So I'm no longer baking cookies to take daily in my lunch, but when my family goes into Christmas cookie overdrive, I'm going to eat two dozen cookies that week. And I think I'll enjoy them all the more because I'm saving them for the occasion. Report
GREAT points- especially the FACT that holidays are going to have feasts and plates are going to be filled, but taking the stress out of it all (mental and physical) requires a little physical effort to keep us BALANCED!! I'm really going to use that rowing machine!! Have a BLESSED day, weekend, year, and New Year!! Annie Report
I am having Christmas Eve at my house I will wake up early and exercise for 1-2 hrs. It destresses me and gives me energy and keeps my eating on track for the day. Report
Hi FUNTIGGER, don't be depressed.. even if you over-indulge during the holidays, always remember to track your calories and get back on track when possible so that you don't get depressed after the holiday munching.. That is what I am planning to do.. Report
Where is the advice on here for non-fitness nuts? Come on, it's the holidays and you can't expect the average person to not eat more on Thanksgiving on Christmas and to fit time in to work out those days. I barely have time to shower and get dressed on those days! I'm starting to get depressed on this site because it seems like the only people that post are all super fitness and health food obsessed. :( Report
I learned that this year in time, I exercised in the morning, and ate small portions of everything, drank water and actually lost a pound over thanksgiving break, now onto Christmas. Report
I managed to eat good portions of the food without feeling deprived and I didn't miss a single workout (I may have worked just a little harder than I usually do!) Report
Sounds good! I do know, however, that recent studies have shown that we fill obligated to eat everything on our plates, so be careful with putting too much food on it at once. I've also heard that it's better to get a couple of smaller portions throughout the meal rather than all at once. Good luck during the holiday and happy SparkPeopling! :D Report
I did great with exercising over the Thanksgiving break but I gave in to the temptations of cookies and pie. I felt guilty about doing it but continued to eat them. During the Christmas break I plan on having more willpower to say no! I will also continue my running and working out. Report
I didn't do as well on exercise as you did, but I did keep active for those days. No naps and trying to make good choices were key for me. Report
I feel this article is right on. I don't have too much trouble with Thanksgiving because it is only 1 day but the Christmas season lasts for a month and there is candy and cookies EVERYWHERE! Report
I wish I'd read this article BEFORE Thanksgiving! Report
I was doing really well until the week before Thanksgiving and then I totally fell off the wagon and began eating everything in sight. The days following Thanksgiving haven't been different. I've been keeping up with my excersise routing, happily I can say that. But today is my hopping back on the wagon and when Christmas rolls around here in a few weeks I will treat it like any other day... giving myself leeway to eat all I want because it's a "holiday" was too much at this stage of my diet, *sigh*... :'[ Report
We always eat healthy holiday meals too and I watch my portions. Usually after dinner everyone goes for a long walk with the dogs. It's been a tradition for years now. Report
Getting in my workout is such a habit, that my husband and I go walking around the neighborhood on the days that the rec center we use is closed. It doesnot matter what the day is. When we are traveling, we always find time to get in a workout also. Report
That is exactly my philosophy. Just go on with your healthy habits, even though it's the holidays. Saying "Holidays are too stressful or I don't have time" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no reason to wait till the new year to eat better and start exercising. Just do it! :) Report
Great advice. Thanks SP Report
I am not into the whole Christmas thing. I end up picking up a couple of part time shifts over the hoildays working in a group home. Which keeps me busy. Only go to hoilday events I can not get out of like the terrible office party. For the rest of it is just like any other time. Don't do the company or family thing, don't do gifts so I do not have the stress some of you have. My stress is more from hating the season and the way it is celebrated in North America, than any thing else. Can't wait till Jan when it is all over. Bah Hum bug is my theme. Report
Was just returning from vacation (lost 2 pounds!!), so I did not work out on Thanksgiving Day. Did, however, have a very tasty, well balanced, not overly indulgent meal. Part of our conversation was about how much food we used to cook for holidays because we thought we had to....we thought that's the way it was supposed to be!! That is NOT the case anymore!!! Yet another chapter in my book!!! It's been an awesome journey becoming a "fit" person...and I'M NOT DONE YET!!! Report
Thanks for the suggestion and the encouragement! Report
Taking the time to plan to exercise and then doing it are my downfalls, but all things considered I have a much better handle on things this year then last. Report
My issue at the holidays (and every day) is definitely making fitness a part of every day life. It is so easy to make it last on the priority list. Report
I don't live to eat but I do love food! For me exercise is a must. This year I have vowed not to gain weight this holiday season. I've even managed to lose a pound. :) Report
I don't work out or even eat healthy on the holidays, but I'm trying a little harder to do so! Report
The only reason that I have trouble sticking to my eating habits on holidays is b/c my mother-in-law, God love her, doesn't really get the whole healthy eating thing. On my side of the family the ham is just ham and the corn is just corn, but with my MIL the ham is coated in sugary glaze and the corn is swimming in butter. There isn't a dish that isn't topped with some extra fat or calories - and DH and I have even asked to have a small portion left out before she adds those things. It's not that she's malicious or anything - just the opposite. It's a long story, but for her food has always been a comfort and coping thing and I think it's really her way of showing love - mass quantities of "comfort foods."

At any rate, it makes it REALLY hard to stick to eating habits at their house so I just do my best by planning ahead, banking some calories, eating in moderation and fitting in a couple of extra workouts that week. I made it through Thanksgiving relatively unscathed, so we'll see how Christmas goes. :) Report
I went to my son's for Thanksgiving, went for a walk to the park with my grandchildren before lunch, then ate a pretty sensible lunch. Then later that night I got terribly sick and lost all I had eaten for two days. This was a real unpleasant way to maintain my weight loss plan, but it sure worked. Report
BANK some calories, so you can SPEND them at special occasions. I think that is the best way. DO eat an apprle before going into the food area, as it will take off the "faminished" feel. Report
Well-said! I am and will TRY to eat like I should and maintain my exercises even during these 6 wks or so of festive activities (from T'giving to N.Yr's). No reason not to, it's really just a matter of self-control. Easier said than done, I know, but necessary to work on our good, healthy habits. Report
This is my first complete year with spark people and I'm happy to say that I worked out the day before and the day after Thanksgiving. It felt good and natural so I will continue with this through Christmas and New years. Report
great points made in article and comments! I'm in charge of our office Christmas Party (happening today) and we're having a dessert contest..... YIKES. So... I just ate a good hot cup of oatmeal - taking my water bottle with me and heading down to set up for the party.....keeping in mind that it is just a normal day. THANKS!

my thanksgiving was different than every other day... but not because of food.

my father-in-law invited my husband and me along with other family members to a pre-sunrise hike, and when we reached the top, we got to watch the sun come up. it was such a nice way to spend time with family, my body felt invigorated, and it made watching portions later in the day so much easier because that post-workout feeling in my body was a reminder that i was working toward something, and the last thing i needed was to derail myself with extra portions of fatty high calorie food. i can't wait to do it again next year! Report
I so agree. 5 weeks into my Sparks journey we went on a month long camping trip to Florida, with 2 weeks at Disney World thrown in, towing our pop-up trailer. I was concerned about weight gain being away for so long, but my plans were to stay on track and maintain what I had lost. Each morning I went for a run, and what a treat, new scenery each day, I then fed everyone a healthy breakfast just like I would at home, prepared lunches by having carrots, celery sticks, tomato wedges, cucumber slices. strawberries and other easy to eat food packed in the cooler than plugs into the cigarette lighter to stay cold and added a healthful sandwich for everyone to eat at lunch. My husband planned our drive to include several planned rest stops each day where we could eat, stretch, get some exercise and just get out of the car for a while. This worked amazingly well and in the entire month we ate lunch at a restaurant just once. I shopped for fruits and vegetables in the local grocery stores every other evening. We practiced the same things while at Disney World and only ate in their restaurants 3 times (planned events to meet the characters). Other than that we at at the camp site and I carried handy snacks for throughout the day. It worked so well, not only did I maintain the weight loss, I lost 3 Lbs - not a lot, but pretty good for having been gone so long. The Christmas season doesn't scare me now, I know what I need to do and am prepared to do it. Go Sparks People with a little bit of planning the holidays need to wreck all the hard work you have put into getting where you are today. Report