Guest Post: How to Stay on Track During the Holidays

November 16, 2017
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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . .  ” 

  I do love this time of year from Thanksgiving to New Years!  We spend lots of time with friends and family, my home is buzzing with excitement and there’s always plenty of wonderful things to eat . . . . and eat. . . . . and eat!    Can you relate?  

As joyful and exciting as this time of year can be, it can also be a very difficult time of year to stay on track with your health goals.   It’s so easy to get off a normal healthy eating plan and dive into those delicious comfort foods and sweet treats.  Our daily walk or workout takes a sideline and we start to feel stressed with all we need to get done before Christmas.    Believe me, I know all about it!  

Today on the blog, I’m excited to have Dawn Karwoski from the blog, Our Food Fix, with us!   Just in time for the holidays, she’s sharing her tips for How to Stay on Track During the Holidays.  


How to Stay on Track During the Holidays | Healthy Eating | Healthy Living | My Healthy Homemade Life


How to Stay on Track During the Holidays

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. Yet they can also be the most dangerous for your health. Many of us, myself included, indulge over the holidays. This is a slippery slope though, and can lead to binging, foregoing workouts, and poor eating habits. Thankfully it doesn’t have to, as long as you follow a few precautions.


Make Time For You

Personal well being is most important during stressful times. Especially for women, we tend to overcommit, take care of everyone else but ourselves, and ignore our mental and physical signals. Now is not the time to succumb to these defaults. If you do, you will end up in a downward spiral.

You may know this spiral. You cut back on sleep and fitness to fit it all in, eat in a rush, binge on sugar, and eat convenience foods. Your body screams for you to slow down. But you push through, and after too long, an illness sets in.

If nothing else, make sure and get extra sleep to combat some of the sacrifices. Obviously things happen and your regular routine may not be feasible, but don’t give it on everything.

To make time for yourself, consider a few of these suggestions when things get tough:

  • Schedule breaks. Set a timer to force yourself to get up and out during stressful days. Ideally you would do this every couple of hours, or least a few times a day.

  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier that you think you can. 30 minutes will have little impact on your to-do’s, but means a lot for your body’s recovery during sleep.

  • Commit to a wellness moment. Take 15 minutes when you wake or before you go to bed to do something you enjoy. This could be reading a magazine, sitting outside with your coffee, or catching up with a friend.


Fit in Fitness

I am not going to tell you that you need to workout every day this time of year. But don’t give it up completely. Instead, reduce the amount and length of your workouts.

15 minutes spent moving your body is better than none. Plus, regular fitness ensures a healthy mind and body.

There are tons of workouts you can easily do from home as well, and they have just as many benefits as formal gym workouts.

Some examples of quick workouts you can do at home include:

  • A brisk walk. Bonus that the outdoor exposure is even better for mental health.

  • HIIT, or high intensity cardio. For many of us, you likely don’t need extend HIT anyways. And a quick 15 minute burn can keep your metabolism revving all day.

  • Yoga or Pilates. Spending time stretching can have a profound impact on how your body feels.


Manage Stress

I know, I know. This sounds like an impossible task. I promise you it is 100% feasible, but it requires some effort.

Effort in that you need to work on managing stress. It cannot be avoided completely, but we can change how we react once stress presents itself. Panicking, getting overwhelmed, or not addressing the issue is dangerous.

Which his why learning to pinpoint when stress is coming, and how you properly react to it is key. Stress does come in multiple forms, so we have to train our mind and body to recognize when it is setting in.

Stress Signals

  • Increased heart beat

  • Restlessness and trouble falling asleep

  • Hormonal changes

  • Change in appetite and food cravings

  • Racing mind

  • Anxiety or depression

  • Feeling overwhelmed

Stress Response

When you are feeling any of the above triggers coming on, use some of these techniques to calm yourself down. Practice does make perfect, so the more often you work on combating stress, the better you will become at recognizing and treating it.

  • Take a break/walk away from the stressful situation

  • Deep breathing

  • Meditation

  • Exercise, especially Yoga

  • Extra relaxation and sleep

  • Focus on eating real foods, especially fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Know your limitations, as outlined below


How to Stay on Track During the Holidays | Healthy Eating | Healthy Living | My Healthy Homemade Life

Be Prepared

Keeping up with your real foods lifestyle during the holidays is really tough. Trust me, I struggle with it ever year too. To avoid those temptations, there are a few precautions you can take to ensure you stay on track.

Plan Your Meals

Planning meals in advance is essential to a real food lifestyle on most days, but is especially the case during a busy holiday season. And when you are often eating outside the home.

Make sure you have prepared foods available at all times. This means spending a couple hours a week meal prepping, or practice my favorite prep, bulk and batch cooking.

Not familiar or comfortable with meal planning? Check out our free resources.

Eat Before You Go

Another way to make sure you stay away from that sweets table is to actually eat your meal at home before you depart.

Filling up on healthy foods, that you know are safe for you and provide you the nutrients you need, is a great way to avoid potential hazards.

Pack Snacks

If you don’t have the opportunity, or feel comfortable, eating before you go, try packing yourself snacks instead. Simple things like fresh vegetable sticks, dried fruit, raw nuts, and jerky are all great grab and go snacks.

And if you have a sweet tooth (my weakness) prepare a little healthy snack to bring with you. Fat bombs, truffles, cookies, cashew cheesecake, or anything that fits your personal needs will work great.


Know Your Limitations

Last and certainty not least, it is really important to know and accept your limitations.

This goes back to managing stress as well. You don’t want to overcommit yourself and wear yourself down. Or put yourself in a situation that you become so stressed that you let sleep and healthy foods go by the wayside.

Also keep in mind your individual needs and restrictions. Do you have a gluten allergy? Does sugar make you feel ill? Think about the consequences of indulging in one little  “cheat” while at a party. The 5 minutes of perceived joy may not be worth the sacrifice.

My single most important piece of advice relating to how to stay on track during the holidays is this – learn to say no. Say no to things that you make you unwell, and that will not improve your health. They are not worth it.

What methods do you use to stay on track during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!


Learn More About the Author

Dawn Karwoski, Our Food FixDawn Karwoski runs the health-centric blog, Our Food Fix, along with her husband Garett. Both obsessed with all things food, they share Paleo & mostly healthy recipes, wellness resources, and planning & efficiency tips. Dawn is a meeting/event planner by day, and blogs in the evenings to satisfy her love of writing and education. She avidly studies nutrition and wellness, and aims to inspire everyone to live a happier healthier life.

Learn more about Dawn at Or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

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  • Reply Renee November 16, 2017 at 7:59 am Great tips! I am hoping I can keep it together these next few months!!
    • Reply Jen November 16, 2017 at 8:20 am I am too, Renee! Keeping up with my workouts and staying away from the sweets is always a challenge for me this time of year! I'm trying to stay focused this year!
  • Reply Toni November 16, 2017 at 9:36 am I really appreciate these great reminders. I know I should do all these things, but somehow I rarely make time for taking care of myself. That will be a goal this holiday season. Thanks!
    • Reply Jen November 16, 2017 at 9:55 am I'm so glad to hear that, Toni! I hope it makes a big difference in how you feel for the holidays.
  • Reply Nadalie Bardowell November 16, 2017 at 10:25 pm Great post, it is so easy to get caught up in things and detoured off the path you were headed down. Best way to stay on track is to set easy and achievable goals and tasks. Make sure to follow up with them and set reminders if they have to be pushed back.
    • Reply Jen November 17, 2017 at 7:44 am I agree, Nadalie! I love the idea of setting reminders for yourself!
  • Reply Joleisa November 17, 2017 at 12:41 pm I am so grateful to your guest blogger for this post which comes right on time. I am very guilty of letting things slide and then run away during the holiday period. So I am definitely going to make an effort to do better this year. I will share with my sister.
    • Reply Jen November 17, 2017 at 1:09 pm Thank you, Joleisa! I'm guilty of the same thing. I'm going to work harder not to do that this year too! Best of luck to you!
  • Reply silvia November 17, 2017 at 3:17 pm I really liked this piece, it's so important to still maintain a healthy eating and exercizing pattern during the holidays- especially since it's so easy to fall off the wagon and really indulge with comfort food because you become overstressed.
    • Reply Jen November 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm I agree! I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Silvia!
  • Reply Shell November 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm What a wonderful guest post!!! We can all use these tips for having a better holiday experience and I especially appreciate the reminder to know our limitations.... it can be overwhelming to feel we have to say yes all the time....
    • Reply Jen November 19, 2017 at 7:21 am That's so true, Shell. Personally, I'm making some big changes this year--doing less and focusing on what is the most important. :)
  • Reply Elise Cohen Ho November 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm I love all of the tips but my favorite is the sleep tip. I especially like it because you refer to going to bed earlier than you "think" you can.
    • Reply Jen November 19, 2017 at 7:22 am I like that one too, Elise. Since daylight savings time, I'm finding that much easier to do!
  • Reply Loren November 18, 2017 at 3:36 pm This is a great Holiday How To! The suggestions are easy to implement and cover a wide variety of uses to meet everyone's needs and situations. I think this should be printed out and sent to everyone's families/friends before they show up for Holiday festivities to help everyone enjoy themselves. I especially love the Sleep tip - especially when so many people are pushing the "just get up a little earlier" thought which takes away from what people really do need - rejuvenating rest!
    • Reply Jen November 19, 2017 at 7:26 am I'm so glad you found this helpful, Loren! I love the sleep tip too. I'm making a conscious effort this year to get more, especially during the holidays.
  • Reply Stephanie | Adventures in Aussieland November 18, 2017 at 8:58 pm These are great tips! I always see an influx of clients during the holiday season. If everyone followed these tips, I would definitely see less people.
    • Reply Jen November 19, 2017 at 7:23 am Ah, yes. It is so easy to get off track this time of year!
  • Reply yvette November 18, 2017 at 9:22 pm Loved reading thus. Personally November-January is always a sruggle for me.So tak8ng these points to heart tonight.
    • Reply Jen November 19, 2017 at 7:24 am I"m so glad to hear that, Yvette! Many of us struggle alongside of you !
  • Reply Adine @ Average To Awesome November 20, 2017 at 8:58 am Great post! It's so easy to just roll through December and think: 'I'll get back on track in the new year', but that's such a shame! You feel so much better if you take care of yourself during the holiday season as well. And it's not just about continuing your sports and sleeping enough, but also about not overeating and trying to stick to some healthy habits. I know it's all easier said than done, so I try to set myself up for success by - for example - skipping Netflix for a month, not just relying on running outside, but also having my gym membership, and create a 'happy season' with things like candles and tea, instead of massive amounts of foods.
    • Reply Jen November 20, 2017 at 9:08 am That is so true, Adine. I've done that myself a few times and always end up regretting it. I love your ideas! I'm not sure I could give up Netflix for the month with all the great holidays movies but I could certainly reduce my tv time in the evening. I especially love your idea for replacing food with some fun, happy activity.
  • Reply Hannah November 20, 2017 at 9:51 am I'm happy to have run into this post right before Thanksgiving! It's easy to get off track around this time of year and SO hard to get back on track after. Thanks for the reminder!
    • Reply Jen November 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm I'm so glad it was helpful, Hannah!
  • Reply Wellness Roundup: How to Stay on Track During the Holidays - Our Food Fix November 21, 2017 at 10:01 am […] Read the rest of the post here: How to Stay on Track During the Holidays. […]
  • Reply Karla November 22, 2017 at 7:51 pm I'm going to have to remember the tip to say "no" to things that make me feel unwell. The temptation of chocolate is everywhere this time of year it seems!
    • Reply Jen November 24, 2017 at 11:41 am It certainly is, Karla! I'm so glad you found the post helpful!
  • Reply Angela November 22, 2017 at 11:41 pm I love the idea of taking a wellness break! I'm definitely going to try and fit this into my day, I already feel the holiday rush!
    • Reply Jen November 24, 2017 at 11:40 am Me too, Angela! I'm so glad you're going to give it a try!
  • Reply Rae November 25, 2017 at 9:21 am Awesome tips! I love the note about stress triggers and managing her stress. There is nothing more important this time of year than taking care of yourself first, because otherwise if you’re not healthy you can’t help anybody else either.
    • Reply Jen November 25, 2017 at 10:13 am That's so true, Rae!
  • Reply Kathy November 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm I love this. I especially appreciate the suggestion to "know your limitations." That is my biggest weakness. I have a chronic illness but don't want to miss out on things so I constantly push too hard and pay the price. I'll definitely keep these suggestions in mind.
    • Reply Jen November 28, 2017 at 7:54 am It certainly can be a challenge this time of year, Kathy and even more so with a chronic illness. Thanks for commenting!

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