How to win the holidays

Photo by  Toa Heftiba  on  Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

By Shelby Spears

Tis the season of excess. Extra desserts. Extra alcohol. Extra events. Extra travel. Extra stuff. 

Between holiday parties, office goodies, family visits and trips, making time for workouts and healthy eating can feel like another extra- an extra challenge. But a simple mindset shift can help you change that. Turn the excuses off and instead of looking at your healthy routines as a chore, look to them as extra help in this time of tinsel and trees. 

I turned to our resident Spears Strong experts for their advice on, "How do you win the holidays." How do they stay on track during a season that seems at times to work against our goals? 

Sara Stevens, LMT, MA, Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer

The times when we struggle to prioritize ourselves is when it is the most important to do so. Just because your schedule isn’t jam packed full of holiday festivities doesn’t mean you’re not holiday-ing hard enough.

"I win the holidays by prioritizing self care. Holiday stress can usually be attributed to the expectations that come with the season. We have demands from family, recitals, parties and shopping -all on top of our usual daily demands.

While it can be easy to convince ourselves that we don't have time to make it to a workout, get a massage, or take a couple hours to just chill with a book, times when we struggle to prioritize ourselves is when it is the most important to do so. Taking time to rest and recover will keep us happier and more productive than if we push ourselves non-stop. 

Take stock of your holiday schedule, and pencil in time to do something that will leave you feeling fulfilled and energized, even if that something is absolutely nothing. There's nothing wrong with asking for help or delegating tasks so that you can take an hour to breathe. If you have to take store-bought cookies to that party so you can spend time resting instead of baking, do it. 

Set boundaries with your friends and family and stick to them. Just because your schedule isn't jam packed full of holiday festivities doesn't mean you're not holiday-ing hard enough. The point of the season isn't to be the busiest, it's to enjoy those most important to you. One of those most important people should be you. Take time to take care of you and you will find yourself better able to enjoy the people and festivities that you do make time for." 

Bamini Pathmanathan, MS, RDN, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist

"As soon as I read the question, 'How do you win the holidays,' I knew the answer. I simply don't join the race! 

I refuse to see the holidays as a challenge, or a race, or some sort of a dash to the end.

No winners or losers.

I try to remain "normal."


I do my best to reassess, to see how things have progressed over the year and only focus on the same goals I have had since day one or goals that I am currently working on. 

Staying focused on everything that matters the most to me is important and I do my best to not allow that one day or one event to take over the whole month. That's how I try to keep the stress out of my life this month. If I don't make it to getting the teachers a gift, so be it. I will get it to them another day.

I simply don't care to keep to the "hallmark," social pressure up and ruin my days. You have to keep saying to yourself that it's important to keep some normalcy to your life, to carry on like it's any other day, week or month- to fit the "holiday" into your life when and however possible. 

But as the holidays go, there is a lot of food to be had, particularly food that isn't available (imported from other countries just for this holiday)  or made any other time of the year. Even if egg nog was around all year long, I would still only want it now, during this holiday. I try to find the "least damaging" version of egg nog and enjoy it.

I also love chestnuts. It doesn't taste the same at other times of the year. And peppermint bark is probably one of my favorites. I don't deny myself all the foods I might want to have. You just have to chose wisely and eat mindfully. No Regrets!"

Jonathan Spears, Personal Trainer

"Do what you love during the holidays and only that. Don't deprive yourself of the things that really matter to you but at the same time don't over indulge for the sake of over indulgence.

I love a good dessert. But if I'm going to eat dessert, you better believe it's the best damn dessert I can get- either homemade or from a local baker. It's not worth it to me to eat cookies or candies just because they are there. I'll be unsatisfied and probably feel sick. 


Most people think I don't drink or eat sweets, but the fittest people know that  depriving yourself completely is a recipe for failure. Follow the 80-20 rule through the holidays- and always. Allow yourself those special treats but opt out of the extra donut at the office or the cookies, cakes and sugar laden cocktails at that holiday party. 

I would also say GET OUTSIDE. When the weather turns wet and cold we have a tendency to hole up indoors. But the cold is good for you. You don't get sick from the cold, you get sick from sick people and you're more likely to get sick or feel bad/down in the dumps if you're inside too much. Especially when the sun is out, make sure you get outdoors. It only take a few minutes of sunlight a day to absorb all the Vitamin D you need. And here in the PNW we have no excuses not to get outside and enjoy all the natural beauty that surrounds us."

Join the Spears Strong "Win the holidays" challenge! For every workout or group/run walk you attend, your name will be added to a drawing on Dec. 31 for a Spears Strong t-shrit! 

Want daily advice, motivation and tips from Spears Strong's experts? Join our Online Accountability program! Email to learn more. 


Shelby SpearsComment