The holiday season is supposed to be a time to celebrate and rejoice – spend quality time with your family, go to a handful of holiday parties, and feast on some delicious food. The problem is, how can you do all of this and still manage to eat healthy and stay on top of your exercise routine? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.. right?

Here are a few tips to help you find a balance between indulging without sacrificing your fitness gains during the holidays.

Plan ahead

Chances are that between decorating the house, shopping for gifts, and hosting guests, it will seem like you don’t have time to workout. But if you plan out your training a month in advance, nothing has to get in the way. Your workout plans will be locked into your calendar, and the holiday rush will take a step back in your priority list. If you know you will be travelling during the holidays, plan in advance as well. Ramp up your workout sessions previous to leaving town and use the time during your vacation as recovery days. Whatever you plan on doing, just take your time to exercise as a serious commitment you can’t afford to cancel or reschedule.

Be an early bird

Beat the temptation to skip on exercising by getting it done early in the morning. If you already exercise early in the day, this will be a breeze for you. If you’re the kind of person who prefers to workout later in the day or after work, move the routine to early in the AM, at least until the holidays are over. The change in schedule may be a drag at first, but trust me it will be worth it. You will avoid any last-minute changes to  plans from interfering with your workout, and in the long-run you will better about getting it done.

Find a training partner

Staying motivated is key during the holidays. A great way to do that is finding a training partner. Grab your kids, your spouse, or even a visiting family member and include them in your workout commitments. Turn your exercise into a challenge with your partner. For example, whoever skimps out or loses needs to double up on a routine the next day. This way you’ll not only turn exercising into something fun, but you will also be less likely to skip it.

Track your calorie intake

Just like you will track your activity level, you should also track your calorie intake, especially during the holidays. With all the parties, the cooking, the baking, and the drinking it’s easy to lose track of everything and then find yourself more than a few pounds heavier once the holidays are over. Keep a food diary or log and remain aware of the amount of calories you’re taking in and how you can play around with that calorie intake. For example, if you plan on feasting on some high-calorie options, plan on eating smaller portions or low-calorie foods later in the day.


Whatever you do, stay hydrated! It’s a known fact that your brain can confuse thirst for hunger. So make sure to drink eight glasses of water per day, and don’t forget to drink to one to two big glasses of water before a meal. If you’re the kind of person who forgets to drink water, especially when you’re running around during the holidays, set a timer on your phone to remind you to drink water. You can also pack a large water bottle early in the day, and carry it with you wherever you go.

Indulge for a single day, not a season

The most important thing during the holidays is that you remain happy. Remember, keeping up with an exercise and diet routine doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself from indulging in the holiday spirit. Have your cheat day and enjoy your favorite foods. Just make sure you indulge for one day, not from Thanksgiving all the way up to New Year’s Day.

With some planning, a little extra self-discipline as dessert plates flood every household, you’ll be able to both enjoy the holiday and stay on track for your 2016 fitness goals.

Holden Buckner is a Business Analyst in Austin, TX. You can learn more about his professional background on his main website.