Why do the holidays ruin your progress?

If this is your first year exercising consistently and eating healthy, you are quickly realizing that a wrench has been thrown in the gears. From Thanksgiving to January 1st you will experience more obstacles to your progress, harassment from peers, and a decline in motivation that you have not yet experienced. If you have been a health conscious person for a number of years, then you are either preparing yourself for the onslaught of stumbling block or accepting that you are going to take a few steps back until the new year.

Why is this the case?

Simply put: The holiday season disrupts your rhythm. From your sleep schedule to your social relationships, you will notice substantial changes to your normal routine. 

Until now you have had a consistent bed time and wake up time. You have locked in your grocery list and have no problem saying no to the occasional treat offered to you. Everyone you know respects (for the most part) that you are healthy.

Suddenly things change. You have several extended weekends due to Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may find yourself travelling to see family whether you are on a break from school or traditionally go out of town for the holidays. People you know are now pushing holiday treats on you constantly, your thanksgiving leftovers are piled up, Christmas and New Year's are back to back, and the weather affects your energy and motivation.

Nothing is normal. Nothing is habitual. Your sleep is off, your diet is off, and your exercise habits are off.

So what should you do:

  1. Forgive yourself for failure. The longer you sulk in the ways you broke your diet or the days you missed at the gym, the more difficult it will be to return to your habits.
  2. Create an exercise and diet plan for December that accounts for the disruptions that will inevitably come your way.
  3. Remember that you are not selfish for wanting to prioritize your health. Your discipline will shine a glaring light on other peoples' shortcomings. Their natural defense is to tear someone down to minimize the guilt they feel for not being disciplined.
  4. Plan for success if you will be in another location for the holidays. Are you out of town? Do you have a gym? are you going to be able to buy your groceries.
  5. Enjoy yourself, and recognize that you do not have to binge to enjoy the holidays. You can have one cookie, not four. You can have one drink, not ten. you can sleep in a day or two, not seven.

Once you understand "why," you can create your plan of action. Enjoy the holidays. Plan for success.  Do not let yourself be discouraged.


Josh Rosen