Stay Fit During the Holiday Season | Stephen Box Fitness & Nutrition
Stephen Box Fitness & Nutrition
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Stay Fit During the Holiday Season

The holidays are a time to enjoy the company of our family and friends.  It’s also the time of year we tend to be the most stressed and have too many tasks on our to-do lists.

Here are some common situations and how to handle them…


  • Buy candy for trick-or-treaters that you don’t like.  
    Having a bag full of your favorite candy around the house is just too tempting.  Instead choose to buy candy that you don’t like and you’ll be less tempted to dip into the stash.
  • Beware of the co-worker trap
    Many people, in an effort to get rid of their candy will bring it to work. The hope is that you and your other co-workers will eat it all up.  Instead ask them to hide it in their desk drawer – out of sight, out of mind.
  • Chew sugar-free gum
    “Studies have shown that gum chewing can also help [you] relieve stress, mentally focus on tasks, satisfy a sweet tooth, overcome the urge to eat candy, and help manage hunger pangs to hold you over until your next meal,” says Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.


Whether it’s for work or to visit family most of us will spend considerable time in a car, airplane, and/or hotel this holiday season.  Without a plan, that usually means eating out and skipping workouts, but with a little planning you can stay on track.

  • ​Pack your own convenient options
    Items such as fruit, nuts, and beef jerky make great on the go snacks.  If you’re like me and prefer something a little more filling, then consider a meal replacement bar or shake.  (My personal choice is the AdvoCare Meal Replacement Shakes or AdvoBars)
  • Invest in portable workout equipment
    With a suspension trainer such as the TRX, elastic bands, and a few body weight exercises you can get a great workout in pretty much anywhere.
  • Workout in small bursts
    Whether it’s work, vacation, or spending time with family it can be difficult to head to the gym for an hour at a time.  The good news is that studies show that three 10-minute workouts are just as effective as a single 30-minute workout.  Opt for full body movements such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and mountain climbers or use the TRX/bands to add extra resistance.

    Start with just 5 reps of each exercise in a circuit, rest for a minute and repeat the circuit for 2-4 rounds.  If it’s too easy, then just up the reps or reduce rest time.

  • Keep your workout equipment in plain sight
    In the same way you are likely to eat your co-workers candy if it’s sitting on their desk, you are more likely to use your exercise equipment if you put it somewhere that it’s in your way.
  • Plan your meals but leave a little wiggle room
    In a perfect world you’d have one of the hotels with the full kitchen and a nearby farmers market.  You’d also have scouted out the nearby restaurants and figured out the healthiest options and called ahead to see if preparing them the way you want is possible.

    Alas, that is a perfect situation and things almost never go perfectly.  For those times make the best choice you can with what you have available and don’t stress about it.

  • Remember it’s vacation
    Unless you are traveling for work, your trip is probably about seeing family or just getting away.  It’s okay to indulge in some of your favorite foods while on vacation.  Just be mindful about the portion sizes and try to balance it out by eating healthier meals the rest of the day.

Family Dinners & Holiday Parties

Many of us will find ourselves at the mercy of other people’s cooking and a desire to indulge in all those tasty sweets. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up those sweets or risk offending someone by not eating their food to avoid packing on pounds. Just follow these tips and you’ll be good to go!

  • Make sure you eat a breakfast packed with protein & fiber to ensure you are not starving at the dinner table.
  • Get a workout in before you eat, the closer to the meal the better as your body will be able to utilize most of the calories.
  • Bring your own dish so you’ll have at least one healthy option.
  • Eat a 2:1 ratio of meat to carbs (i.e. 2x the amount of turkey as macaroni & cheese).
  • Load up on veggies, especially anything green.
  • Drink plenty of water before and during the meal to help you feel fuller.
  • Take at least 20 minutes to eat and wait another 15-20 minutes before getting seconds. It takes about that long for your body to signal that you’re full.
  • Eat until you are satisfied but not completely full (#6 helps you with this one).
  • Go ahead and enjoy the sweets but only get a small piece of each. Most of the time we just want the taste and overestimate how big of a piece we really need.
  • If you do, however, have a trigger food that you know you won’t be able to just eat a little, then avoid that particular food.
  • Limit alcohol intake to one drink.
  • Go for a family walk after dinner.
  • Schedule your workout for the following day on your calendar and remember some gyms may close early around Thanksgiving and Christmas so plan ahead.

Looking For Additional Solutions?

Most people already know that they need regular exercise and good nutritional choices to achieve their health & fitness goals.   They just need smart solutions for making all of that happen — even when life gets crazy.

Clients in the Small Habits Nutrition Coaching program receive one-on-one coaching to learn the skills that will help them fit big health goals into their busy daily routines.

About the Author Stephen Box

My passion for fitness started with my own 80 lb weight loss journey. I love showing people that fitness and nutrition don't need to be complicated or restrictive. A good coach should be able to meet you where you are and help you get to where you want to be. I am certified as a fitness trainer through the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). Additionally, I hold certifications in exercise nutrition through Precision Nutrition and online fitness training through the Online Trainer Academy. When not serving my clients I am an expert media contributor for companies such as Men's Fitness, Men's Journal,, and many others.

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