Reader’s Request: Healthy Holidays

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a wonderful morning! I thought it would be fun to revisit this older post, and update it a bit to reflect the current holiday season. I’ve received so many questions about maintaining fitness goals and keeping consistent during the holidays, so I thought I’d share some tips. 

From a reader email:

I was wondering if you could do a readers request on a topic that I’ve been struggling with.  I have worked really hard over the last several months to build a lean, muscular figure and have lost the last few pounds and I was doing great and was focused.  Well, now the holidays are here and every morning I wake up, I say to myself, I’m going to stay on track, but then we end up at parties and dinners and I guess I just give in. How do you get through the holidays having fun, but striding towards living a healthy lifestyle?  Your opinion and thoughts/advice mean a lot to me, so anything would help.  If you have already done a post on something similar, could you just point me to it?  Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my message!

So here’s the dealio: I treat the holidays just like any other time of year, just a little more laidback than usual.

For me, maintaining my fitness is about being consistent over time. Whenever I want to *up* things, I do it during a non-holiday time of year (like the Winter Shape Up in late January or Summer Shape Up mid summer). 

December and early January is definitely an interesting season, especially when we’re surrounded with endless holiday desserts and reasons to skip out on the gym.

Here are some of my favorite tips on how to enjoy the holidays while maintaining your fitness success and sanity:

Tips for Maintaining Your Health and Fitness Goals this Holiday Season

1. Load up on fruits and veggies. Before we go to a dinner party or cocktail party, I make sure that I’ve eaten well throughout the day (it’s easy to skip meals or make less-than-stellar choices when you’re chasing around two active little humans) and that I’m well-hydrated.


This way I’m not ravenous when I walk in the door, and can decide what I really want to enjoy. My party mentality is to pack my plate with fruits and veggies, and enjoy bits of the more indulgent, but delicious-looking entrees and appetizers.

2. Prioritize. As a serious chocoholic and lover of all things dessert (except crème brulee- blech), there’s no reason to be denied of the glorious holiday treats in store. However, I try to decide which ones are worth it, and which ones aren’t. Store-bought cookies or brownies? So not worth it. My mom’s magic cookie bars with graham crackers, chocolate chips and coconut? Yes, please.

At family events, I’ll get a little piece of every dessert. I’ll go for a full serving for the one I want the most. This year at Thanksgiving, it was a giant piece of my nana’s coconut cake. 

dessert plate

3. Get your sweat on. The holidays are fun, but they can also be stressful. (When I first wrote this post, the Pilot was out of country and we were getting ready for a cross-country move. Now we’re getting ready for another one.) Exercise endorphins come in handy this time of year! Make time for an early morning workout, before you get started on the day’s frenzy. You’ll feel good all day. Have a cousin/aunt/uncle/parent/cat that’s driving you crazy? Work out. 

When I’m traveling during the holidays, I’ll get a trial pass at a gym that’s close by (usually they’ll do it for free!) and explore online workout options. Some of my favorite at-home workout options are in this post. 

OrangeTheory Tucson

Also, brisk shopping totally counts as cardio.

4. Don’t put added pressure on yourself. The holidays are NOT the time to start a new fitness program or change your diet. It may work for a few people, but chances are that you’ll feel pretty miserable and stressed. Wait it out, and maintain what you’re doing by eating well and working out moderately during the holiday season.

Also, ditch the “wagon” mentality. There is no wagon. If you have a flat tire, you don’t slash the rest of your tires; you change the tire and move on. Same thing goes for health and fitness. If you have an “off” day or night, or feel like you didn’t make amazing choices, it doesn’t matter. Start again right then and there, and remember that it’s the grand scheme of things. It’s actually good for your body to have days where you eat more or workout less; it keeps cruise control from kicking in.

5. Plan holiday outings. Workouts don’t always have to be at the gym! Make plans to walk around a neighborhood with awesome light displays, take a hike with the fam, or treat your dog to some extra holiday walks outside. It’s an easy way to get in some extra movement when your days are filled with to-dos and gatherings.

A vintage picture of Bella and Viesa in their Santa outfits:

dogs in santa outfits

6. Remember that holidays are more about people than anything else. Presents, delicious foods and parties and just the icing on the cake. Take time to be in the moment and enjoy each other, rather than worrying about extra dessert or missed gym time. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, it will all balance out.

snow hike(That one time I hiked in that white stuff that falls from the sky.)

What are your favorite healthy holiday tips?? Please share via the comments section <3

Have a happy almost-Friday and I’ll see you later this afternoon.



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  1. Namaste Gurl on December 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Great post, miss Gina!
    I definitely try to treat holidays as any other moment or day- Just more family, events, food, and festives. I enjoy everything, but don’t stop my exercise and eating healthy regime. It matters to me 🙂
    Can’t WAIT for the Sun Warrior promo (as you know)!

    Also, what peppermint tea brand do you buy- Celestial?

    • Fitnessista on December 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm

      i think it’s celestial

  2. Angela on December 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Gina…does your protein powder mix well with water….does it get thick or is it thin and chalky? Also what is the name again?

    • Fitnessista on December 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

      it mixes pretty well, but i like it more with almond milk. it’s not chalky at all- very smooth! sun warrior 🙂 we’re actually running a promo in the am, it would be a good time to try it!

  3. Christina on December 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    How the hell do you need new tires already when you just got a new car – I think not even a year ago! I’ve had my car for 3 years, and just now, I need new tires – but only 2!!

    • Fitnessista on December 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      i got my car used- it was time for new tires! it was new to me, not brand new. we never buy new cars, always used

  4. Shanna @ Shanna Like Banana on December 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I’d say get the family to work out together and then you are so much more likely to truly enjoy that big feast!

  5. Janel on December 2, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Love these healthy holiday tips! My best one for the ladies at a party is to hold a drink in one hand, and a clutch in the other! With no hands free, it’s a lot harder to mindlessly munch 😉 Also, only eat SITTING no standing at the kitchen counter, or an appetizer table and grazing. Hope you’re doing well Gina! xoxo

    • Fitnessista on December 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

      that’s an amazing tip! i’ll be utilizing that strategy 🙂

  6. CaSaundra on December 3, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Loooove all your tips–they’re great like usual! 🙂

  7. Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) on December 3, 2010 at 8:19 am

    These are great tips. One I’ll use when at buffets/big meals is only eat things I can get around the holiday season. I can eat mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes any day, but I can’t eat my uncle’s amazing stuffing every day. Same goes for chips n’ dip vs special appetizers… works for me!


  8. The Healthy Hostess on December 3, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I love this post! I especially love your tip about the holidays being about people – such a great thing to pass on and remind yourself!

  9. AJ on December 3, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Nice post! I agree with keeping it realistic and managable. Also, since I too have a long distance man, the holidays are one of the few times I get some long stretches of time with him. What I REALLY want to do is just lie in bed together and snuggle all day with movies, and we do some of that, but we have been trying to hit up a spinning class or bundle up and do a winter run together. It surprisingly good bonding time to exercise together. (I’m sure your Pilot is just as supportive in your exercise)

  10. LisaG on December 3, 2010 at 11:12 am

    We usually do some kind of physical activity after a big meal. A family walk, croquet, etc. That way we spend time together and get out and move.

  11. Natalia - a side of simple on December 3, 2010 at 11:19 am

    These are some great tips, Gina, thanks for sharing. I like to keep the holidays in tune with my everyday routines of trying to just be aware of my body, too. I know if I’m worried about too much I won’t enjoy myself, so I keep the focus on the holiday itself, the friends, the family, etc. It doesn’t “have” to be a stressful time of year.

  12. Nicole on December 22, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Thanks for this post! I love your attitude about the holidays. Sometimes I’m a little strict with myself, and I need to remember that everything will balance out..after the holiday season. I’m home from College for Christmas and I’m so thankful to be home with family…and a fully stocked refrigerator! (I usually buy my own groceries at school).

    Happy Holidays 🙂

    • Fitnessista on December 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      happy holidays to you too 🙂

  13. on December 1, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Love this! I usually just eat what I normally eat except for parties and special events and find that these days aren’t that many in the grand scheme of things. I also always stop eating before I am overly full and that way I don’t feel guilty or out of control. Now that I have a baby I always keep my drinks to two maximum which also helps with not over indulging in junk food.

  14. Jessica @ Semi-Sweet Tooth on December 1, 2016 at 6:59 am

    LOVE this list!

    My main goal during the holidays is just to not stress… and feeling unnecessary guilt about missing a workout or eating dessert just adds to it. So I go into the holidays being a little bit “off” from my routine.

    It’s not really a trick – and it’s definitely easier said than done – but it has been a game-changer for me!

    XO, Jessica

  15. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on December 1, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Hi Gina! Happy December! I agree with everything here — and also that it’s not all or nothing, so if you have some treats, the day isn’t ruined. Still continue to hydrate, move around and start again the next day. Sometimes I think if we decide we’ve failed, then we continue to make bad choices the rest of the day.

    Also, I find it’s easier to try to NOT hang out in the kitchen or at the food table at parties. But that’s hard to do. hehehe Most of all, enjoy people and talking and sharing and don’t worry too much! Sweater weather hides those holiday pounds. 🙂

  16. Nathaly @NathyCure on December 1, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Loved this post.

    My favorite tip for the holidays is to become an intuitive eater. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Give yourself a chance to eat the things that you really like and crave at that moment without feeling guilty (probably you wont end up eating as much or as unhealthy as you thought you would). And Lastly, keep up with your workouts, jut to enjoy them and not to be hard on yourself.

  17. Sam @ Hygge Wellness on December 1, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Phew! Thank goodness brisk shopping counts as cardio ; ) Great tips/post!

  18. Karlie on December 1, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Family walks and bike rides!

  19. Erica on December 2, 2016 at 6:12 am

    I really enjoyed this post! I love your tips and that you stress the importance of moderation and balance. I’m not sure our lives can ever really BE balanced but it’s a consistent goal of mine- to enjoy a life of family, fitness, work, fun, downtime, etc. without the stress.

  20. Mike Daciuk on December 12, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for the great tips and they’re very practical. I always work with patients and clients on their mindset and preparing them before the festivities begin. We have techniques we cover but many of them have starting eating healthy already so when they even have some cake or bread, they notice the lethargy, fatigue or bloated feeling. They don’t want to feel like that during the holidays so they refrain. Some tips to curb the carb cravings are eating healthy fats, quality protein, glutamine under the tongue, cinnamon, drink lots of water, a square of dark chocolate under the tongue and so many more. Happy Holidays.

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