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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I cooked for 18 and worked my butt off. I wrote everything that I ate, even the pie. AND I LOST 4 LBS. Report
Sorry but this article makes no sense. The entire concept is an oxymoron. Holidays ARE holidays because they aren't like every other day. If they were, there would be no holiday. The real issue isn't deviating from your normal routine and fit people certainly celebrate holidays. The difference is that fit people don't make the holiday all about food. It is a mental attitude. I think a more appropriate notion is that fit people treat food as fuel rather than as a required or major component of celebration. In eras gone by, celebrations included dancing and tag football and easter egg hunts covering acres or miles of trails. Nowadays people treat holidays (whether simple a day off work or an actual recognize holiday) as an excuse to eat everything in sight and do nothing else. Report
Thanksgiving I put my turkey in the oven and then went out for my 5 mile walk!

Invigorating! Report
KathyLM51, you have the right attitude! I've done this for several years now, and it makes a huge difference - in the past few years I've added my healthy eating habits to the workout, too! Report
Thanksgiving morning, I was too busy for anything but cooking. We ate at 1p.m.
But, I had planned for a week ahead that I needed to keep my calories at the low end of Sparky's recommendations. I maintained my exercise plan. Then on Thanksgiving Day, after cleaning up, one of my guests [yes only one] and I went on a walk. I thought we would see others out. But we only saw one family playing Frisbee.

I wanted a piece of pie.I didn't even choose Pumpkin. But I had a piece for supper. That was all I wanted. I wasn't even hungry after that.

As of today, I have lost 2 pounds in the past week.

I have been to one Advent party. I ate reasonably. More are coming including various Christmas Celebrations. I will maintain my exercise. I plan to have days with lower calories, and days with higher calories during my week, anyway. [all within the recommended range.] Party days, will be planned to allow for mystery calories.
Christmas Eve, our family always has either Chicken & Noodles, or Chicken & Dumplings. The recipe isn't on my program. But I am planning now to eat a serving and a cookie. New Year's Eve, we have always had veggies and dips, cheese & crackers for snacking. I can sensibly deal with that. New Year's Day, we don't have as many food traditions. Report
Thanksgiving morning I went to a packed gym and ran 7 miles on the treadmill. I was so pumped from working out that I ate a very sensible meal. Always make time for your body.

OTG Report
Okay, okay, you are right. It is important to stay consistent. HOWEVER, I really don't think it is a good idea to categorize oneself as good or bad, or whatever for how they eat (at any time) particularly on a holiday. Whether, we like it or not, food is a part of they way our culture celebrates. I have been maintaning a BMI of 22 or less for 7 years now, and what works for me is allowing myself to enjoy the samplings of holiday feasts. Doing this, incidentally, gives me a healthy appreciation for the joys of eating well - sort of a cleansing, if you will (and I don't mean those cleansing kits you buy at the Wal-Mart). I mean a lovely salad for lunch, the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. That said, I do think it is important to maintain or increase one's activity level during this time. (Not only is this a healthy antidote for all the eating that goes down, but also a much better stress reliever than, say overdoing on the alcohol, etc, when all the crazy family is about!) Report
I do try to treat a holiday like any other day food and exercise wise. I might have to switch my exercise schedule around a bit, but I don't plan on missing any workouts. Report
WOOHOO!! Thats me Holiday or not Im keeping to what Im committed too...ME My workouts my running LOVE it !! I NEVER want to fall back on the UNHEALTHY way ever!!!.. Report
I try to eat healthy and get at least 30 minutes of exercise during the holidays. Focusing on family and not food is a great choice. Report
I made it a point to do extra exercise to counter act the extra calories on thanksgiving. Report
Wow, Nicole we had a similar schedule. I made it my business to to to the gym early; on Thanksgiving. Despite having to cook for 18, I still went to the gym early: ran 3 miles, and did an additional1/2 hour on the stairmaster. As for dinner, I had ny usual green salad and instead of turkey, I had cofish ( i am a pescan vegitarian). When everyone was having pie and ice cream, I had a fruit salad. I am so glad to hear that other people were doing about the same. "I am a fit person with fit habits" Report
This is great advice. I find it not too difficult to stick with the program on days like Christmas, etc., but when we go 4x4 driving I find my whole schedule of exercise is mucked up. I try to do my strength training and walking but sometimes I find it impossible to fit everything in. Woe!!! Report
This is such a simple concept, yet it's so powerful! Most people think that "falling off the wagon" for one day won't hurt them in a lifetime, but why not put a positive spin on it and say that staying fit and eating sensibly will keep them fit for a lifetime? Thanks for sharing!

Rebecca Report
One of my most empowering exercise experiences was taking a brisk walk all alone at the track last New Year's Day - first thing in the morning!
It felt great to take care of my body, while everyone else was sleeping in! Report
Just because a holiday comes around does not mean I stop my healthy lifestyle. In fact, my parents live in a place that has an indoor pool which is going to be nice, plus it is a safe place to walk because they have their own security guards. It's an upper scale rental section that I call a town within the city. Country clubs, tennis courts, swimming pools etc. I plan on taking some of my own food in case there are the tempting ones and I don't want to get into them. Report
Instead of stressing myself out on the Holiday, I plan my workouts around it. I take 2 days off of exercise every week so if there is a Holiday it has to be one of the days I take off. I try to be flexible but not rigid. Report
It is not that I go out of my way to not stick to my program, especially during late November and all of December, but that my schedule gets so busy because of what I do (I am a music teacher) and extra added Holiday things eat up my time and also eating healthy becomes problematic because of no time. Report
I did the same thing this past Thanksgiving and it worked! Report
I exercised on both Halloween and Thanksgiving... I also have pretty much kept up my eating within calorie ranges on those days too.

I didn't completely track on Thanksgiving, but I didn't gain anything and am still successful in MaintenanceVille. Report
I returned on Monday from a 3 week vacation overseas. because I was diligent in treating every day as I would at home, I was still able to lose a pound a week thus surpassing my weight loss goal by 2 pounds. I have just reset my weight loss goal to lose 10 more pounds then I will go into maintainence mode when I have reached that goal. Report
I did treat the food like any other day, filling plate only once and in correct portion sizes. but the exercise is a different story because I went out of town at inlaws home..and they wanted to visit. Report
Well,I wanted to treat Thanksgiving like any other day but I knew that doing so was going to be impossible.I'm sure I had a hefty calorie deficit due to not eating much.I was ill and helping my sister with her holiday business -providing fried turkeys and cakes and pies .I started at 5 :30 am and collapsed about 8:45pm .The two days prior were actually longer and I was sick to boot.I found this blog entry very helpful and hope I can do better for XMAS. Report
I actually did work out on Thanksgiving day. Yay!
And I felt better for it..and not only that, but I think it made a difference in what I chose to eat. It felt like another day taking care of myself.. not a "holiday" from what is important to me. Report
When we travel for holidays, visiting family, it's harder because our schedule is all screwed up, and we don't have access to our gym. But we're home for Thanksgiving, and we always go to the gym after the turkey is in the oven. :D Report
Holiday and weekends eat right and exercise harder because we do eat alittle more Report
This is what I've been saying for the longest time! Holidays/weekends are not a 'ticket' for an excuse to revert to those 'bad habits'. They are simply another day in which our society has chosen to endorse special foods and we 'think' that we are committed to 'binge'. There is such a thing as enjoying all those delectable foods without binging - it's called 'moderation'.
I sent out an email to my team about this in the beginning of November - and posted to all the teams I'm a member of. I tried to be light and made a few 'funnies'. Most of the teams I posted to got great responses and thanked me for it - the community team, someone got 'offended' because the thread 'disappeared'.
ANYWAY, yes, enjoy the holidays, enjoy the treats, but they're not your ticket to allow yourself to be a glutteon. Report
I do it a little different. I treat holiday's like a special day. I make these days big work out days, Add extra mile or more time with weights etc... Report
I never missed by exercising. Thankgiving I ate one serving and did not get that stuffing. Great blog. Report
Well something must be working with this program because this is my thought as well. At Thanksgiving I kept my portions at a minimum and was able to "taste" everything. The only problem I had was getting the excercise. Visiting out of the area is hard because you are at others people's houses and most are not conducive to what you usually do on a day by day basis, not everyone has an area big enought to excercise in, and you are there to visit with them so it makes the overall excercise thing hard to do. Walking is about all I could do this last holiday and it was limited....there is nothing wrong with taking a break from this, you just have to keep the eating under control. I actually maintain and tend to lose weight while on vacation because I keep busy and stick to meals vs snacking in between. I tend to want to eat more when I'm bored.
I so agree! This makes a lot of sense. Report
This makes sense and I'm going to do it from now on. Thanks for the advice.

JoanW1 Report
I was always bad on Holidays.This year I am treating all Holiday gatherings like any other day....my new way......the healthy way.I will allow a treat if I really feel I want it and if I do it will be in moderation.Thank you SP Report
I often do overeat during the holidays. It is so easy to. My husband brings things home from work that the bosses wife cooks for all the guys. And I have a very large family on my mom and dad's side and they are divorced. So it is get together after get together and so on. It is very hard for me. I was sick with the flu on Thanksgiving so I didn't overeat then because I couldn't. I am not looking forward to all of the gatherings just because I am worried that I will ruin everything that I have worked for. But I am glad that I read this blog because often times I find myself saying, well it's only one day. No...it is just like yesterday and tomorrow...so I am going to try my best to treat it that way! Report
Every Day is an exersise dy for me too! Even Holidays! Report
Although I eat some of the sweets at Christmas-love pecan tarts:) we always walk on Christmas afternoon. My mom is 82 with severe asthma and she walked three miles the day after Thanksgiving. JUST DO IT! Report
I agree. On Thanksgiving, I cooked healthy choices. Then, I started the day by hitting the weights at the gym and after dinner, the family went for a 40 minute hike. Report
Here-Here! What I do a little differently for my New Year's resolution is do a 5-K. Every day is an exercise day! Report
I agree completely. That's why I joined a gym that is open 24/7, 365 days a year specifically. I was at the gym at 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, and the day after. The same goes for Christmas and New Years as well. Report
I do this. Usually I do my exercise in the livingroom very early in the morning before my husband is up. Over the holiday weekend, we had guests staying with us so I moved my workout area to the computer room. This way I could close the door and not disturb anyone and they couldn't disturb me. I even went for my daily walks, since our dogs need walking every day...holiday or not. Christmas will be the same! Report
I always try to get a work out in every day around a holiday, or at least 4-5 times a week like usual and maybe a little extra for safety. However, I also let myself have a little holiday treat, I mean Thanksgiving and Aunt Barb's pie only comes one time a year! Report
I'm not too fond of tukey and dressing, so I didn't have a big problem over the Thanksgiving holiday, but I *did* eat a couple of little pieces of pie and a mini dessert when we went out to eat Fri. I was able to use a treadmill both places we went and I lost a pound during it all. Christmas will be different, though. We'll be gone for nearly two weeks and there's no excrcise equipment there - my son's in GA. Thank goodness my grandchildren seem to think that my dh and I ought to take them for a walk whenever we're there! So I'm planning to get in *some* exercise anyway and hope to not overdo it on the eating either. Report
I went to the gym for a 'fat blasting' class on Thanksgiving. There were at least 50 women at the gym- a day like any other. I am already thinking about what I want to do for Xmas- perhaps a walk with the family or I will get something cool (like the SP fittness set!) for Xmas that I can use to exercise that day. Report
I did the same thing this year as well. I did have dessert which I try not to have everyday, but I can't resist Pumpkin LOG! MM. I had a small slice. What also helped me was that there were no left over's for mom and dad to bring back home. Thank goodness for little hungry cousins! (4 ofthem)!!! Report
This year my husband and I started what we would like to make a new Thanksgiving tradition- we got up and went hiking before we settled in to watch the parade and the dog show. It was a gloriously beautiful day and we had a wonderful time being together on what would normally have been a work day. Report
I do this... but then again, I don't have a family to organize a holiday for. I'm still young enough to enjoy the holidays, not get frazzled! Report
This is something I would like to do and have tried to do, but I usually crumble under pressure. My husband thinks it's just part of the holiday (I'm talking about Christmas) to sit there and do nothing, while the rest of the family thinks I'm fanatical. I guess I should just slip out the door quietly:) Report
I did very well with the eating this Thanksgiving and did a 5k that morning! Felt great. Good article! Report
and if we live "right" every day is a "holiday" Report