Pushing Through the Holiday Haze


The season of eating has begun—or for some of us it started back around Halloween. Between October and January we often see a dip in fitness center usage as people begin to travel and spend more time celebrating with friends and family.


It can be hard to make time, or keep to your schedule, when you’re throwing in work parties, dinners with friends and celebrating all day with family.


However, holiday weight gain is a real thing. Depending on the person, it may be only a pound or two. But for some people, it means the pants feel really tight by the end of the season. Once it’s over, about half the weight comes off easily. The other half can take as long as five months to get rid of—that’s a long time for a couple pounds!


Let’s face it—you’re going to eat more than you normally would during the holidays. You’re going to have desserts, alcohol and appetizers in addition to your meal.

It’s a special time of year, and food is a way we show we care. But you can take some steps to make sure that it doesn’t get out of hand. Here are some of my tips, as well as those from other experts to help you stay on track through all of the celebrations.


Water, Water, Water


I notice on the days I’m not getting all my fluids, I eat more. Often, we are tricked by our bodies—thinking we are hungry when we really need to hydrate. Plus, the food that we consume during the season has more sodium and will lead to water retention. Make sure that you don’t let your water intake slide.


At minimum, get in 64 ounces each day. Drink a glass before you eat as well. It helps you feel fuller, and you won’t consume as much food.


Plan Around the Celebrating


Outside of the parties, keep eating healthy and on track. Just because you know you’re having dessert later, don’t throw out your healthy breakfast in favor of donuts. Keeping a food diary with your meals and goals listed can help you stay consistent. Yes, you have to write down everything, but this keeps you accountable. I’m not going to lie, keeping a food journal during the holidays is not easy. Especially if you bake and taste as you go.

In the scheme of things, the holiday season is short. You have 10-11 months of regular life, and your health is important to quality of life during those times as well.


Don’t Go Hungry


One of the biggest mistakes we all make is to go to a party or celebration hungry. Have you ever gone into the grocery store when you’re starving?? Try eating a small healthy meal or snack before you go. Include protein to help keep you satiated, and low fat as you’re probably going to get enough of that later. And once you’re at the party, don’t camp out by the food. Instead, fill a plate with a little bit of all the things you want to try and then step away! Mindless eating is easy at parties when the food is abundant. You don’t realize how much you’re actually consuming until it’s too late and you feel sick.


Keep up with Your Workouts    


How much better will you feel about indulging if you keep hitting the gym and breaking a sweat? Even if I don’t add more to my workouts, I feel good breaking a sweat after a night of eating.


I don’t want to lose the strength, fitness and muscle I gained from months/years of exercise due to overindulging. I also don’t want to feel like I’m starting over once the new year hits.


If you’re finding it hard to get to the gym, workout at home. If the weather isn’t too severe, get outside to do your cardio. If you have stairs in your house, use them. Climbing or jogging stairs is a great way to burn calories. If you don’t own any equipment, that’s okay. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to work your muscles, and see changes in your physique. Squats, lunges, and push-ups, oh my! Pick about 8-10 exercises and perform a circuit. Do 15-20 reps of each with little to no rest between each exercise. Repeat 2-3 times for a great workout.


Forgive Yourself


Don’t feel guilty for enjoying yourself. This is a time to celebrate and be thankful with friends and family. Do your best to not go crazy, but forgive yourself if you do. You’re not alone, and the season doesn’t go on forever. Have fun, and the gym and all your healthy meals will be there for you when you’re ready.



Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.