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What Is The Best Way To Stay In Shape Over The Holidays?

What is the best way to stay in shape over the holidays? Avoid temptation and gain the edge on staying fit during this time - use these recommendations from our forum members to keep motivated!

TOPIC: What Is The Best Way To Stay In Shape Over The Holidays?

The Question:

The holidays are in full force and will soon be over so you need to do what you can to prepare for the new year by not gaining to much weight or fat, depending on your goals.

What is the best way to stay in shape over the holidays?

What is the best way to avoid temptation over the holidays?

What recommendations can you make for those who cannot get motivated?

Bonus Question: Stress is at an all time high and can affect your health goals. What steps can be taken to keep this to a minimum?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

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      2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

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1st Place - blind2limits
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

The holiday season - It's the best time for every fitness program, workout schedule and diet to fly out the window to make space for cake, cookies, and a whole bunch of turkey. It also sets up the scene for new years resolutions and new gym membership rushes.

Don't be one of those people that fall into the holiday trap. There are ways to enjoy your holiday without sacrificing the mind, the body, or the food.

Staying In Shape

The overall goal is to stay active. Holidays and vacations tend to mess people up because their schedules drastically change. While a person may have absolute structure and constant activity during the regular workweek, the holidays strip them down to the basics: get up, eat, socialize and sleep.

This loss of control can and will break down anyone's yearlong efforts. However, there are many simple things you can do - traditional and non-traditional - to keep all of that sweet potato pie from covering up your hard-earned abs.

Use Those Guest Passes:

    If your gym is near your job, your job is an hour away, it's freezing cold outside, and you're warm & toasty at home with your food & family: there's no way you're going to leave - plain and simple.

    The holidays are the best time to look around your local area and see who's offering 1-week/2-week trial guest membership passes. You get the benefit of only having to travel 10-15 minutes to a gym just to workout. They get the benefit of thinking they may have a new member.

    Most gyms tend to be much quieter than peak times during the rest of the year, so take advantage of that opportunity to get more focused workouts in. Try out a routine you have always wanted to do. Check out the Workout Database, play with the search values, and try one of the routines there.

The Workout Database! The Workout Database!
Looking for a workout that is customized to exactly what you want? The Workout Database contains hundreds of categorized workouts that you can search!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Think Outside the Box & Try Something New:

    If you have children and it's snowing outside, go run around in the snow with them. Try ice-skating - after falling on your bottom a couple of times, you'll feel the burn. Dust off that old jumping rope and jump around.

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    Turn a family gathering into a gladiator game: challenge each other to pushups, crunches, and other body resistance exercises. Just the heat of competition might push you farther than you would have on your own in the gym. No one likes to be shown up by their relative.

    Check out your local community/recreation center and play some indoor sports. Shoot some hoops, run a round of football, serve some volleyball, score a soccer goal. Enjoy some yoga and knock out that holiday stress.

    Sign up for a dance class. Nothing tests your strength like holding a woman over your head without dropping her (ballet: pas de deux) or doing handstands and head spins (break dancing). A little versatility never hurt anyone.

Ballet Teacher's Journal. Ballet Teacher's Journal.
I am hoping that keeping this journal will keep me on track and accountable for my workouts and what I am eating.
[ Click here to

Turn Your TV & Computer Into Your Workout Partners:

    Your TV could be your best friend this winter. Find a fitness workout TV show and try to follow along. It might be hard since you've never seen it before, but it will keep you on your toes, and sweating too.

    Workout DVDs stock the shelves of most major video retailers. Pick one up that you feel is interesting (or has good-looking people in it) and try it out at home. If it's an up-tempo cardio video, you may be able to get some friends and family to join along as well.

    Take advantage of the digital age. With the advent of digital television and TV-on-demand, you may be able to find channels like "Sportskool" that offer free fitness videos with the features of a VCR (pause, play, rewind, etc.) so you can follow along at your own pace. Make sure to check with your service provider first.

    There are free fitness audio/video webcasts and podcasts you can download from the iTunes Store and on (which can be found here: - Video & Audio Guides) that have workouts you can use and work along with, motivational tips, nutritional discussions and more.

    You can make the video webcasts and video podcasts full screen and follow along as if you were watching it on TV. If you have a video mp3 player or video iPod, you may be able to take the podcasts with you and follow along at your gym or right at home without having to be in front of your computer.

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Staying Away From Mindless Eating

Let's face it - temptation is inevitable. It's the year-end holiday season and after a year of being strict, everybody will want to take a chance at loosening the tie and the belt. The challenge isn't in avoiding the temptation; it's moderating and controlling the urges to fall into the temptation of mindless eating.

In the following excerpt, Dr. Brian Wansink, a food psychologist at Columbia University and author of the book Mindless Eating explains exactly how mindless eating works:

    As we eat, we unknowingly -- mindlessly -- look for signals or cues that we've had enough. For instance, if there's nothing remaining on the table, that's a cue that it's time to stop. If everyone else has left the table, turned off the lights, and we're sitting alone in the dark, that's another cue.

    For many of us, as long as there are still a few milk-soaked Fruit Loops left in the bottom of the cereal bowl, there is still work to be done. It doesn't matter if we're full, and it doesn't matter if we don't even really like Fruit Loops. We eat as if it is our mission to finish them.

Sadly, this issue becomes very big during the holidays. Massive plates of turkey, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, cookies, cakes and much more is constantly passed around. Since you're not cooking and portioning food like you normally do, the cues you would have to stop eating are not there. The Leftovers make it even worse. Here is a good way to curb your cravings:

Play Optical Illusion:

    Make sure to play optical illusions with your food and it's presentation. In a segment on TV show The View, Dr. Wansink demonstrated an optical illusion test. Two bowls were filled with a normal serving of pasta. One bowl was really big (like a general salad/fruit bowl for four people), the other bowl was just big enough to hold the entire serving without falling out.

    Even though both bowls contained the same amount of food, the bigger bowl looked like it would not be filling enough. That means the person would end up adding more food than what was necessary to the bigger bowl. That leads to all of the unwanted calories you were trying to avoid.

    When you take your food, make sure to use smaller plates. Big plates equal big unnecessary helpings. Try to portion your food off and save some of it for later. Eat your first plate of food, wait 15 to 30 minutes, let the food digest and register with your body that you ate - then decide if you need seconds.

    Think about how much sugar or calories could possibly be in what you're eating. All of these things can help you create triggers and cues for your mind to stop your self from mindlessly eating.

Staying Motivated

My college personal trainer once said, "Muscle doesn't build by accident." It's a very simple statement, but sometimes we forget that. When one looks at genetically blessed fitness diehards that make bodybuilding look as simple as cutting butter, it just feels like it just came to them in one full lifetime package. However, if you go and pull out those old skinny or fat "before" pictures from three, five, or ten years ago, you'll see that while it was a hard long road.

Alizia Gutierrez
Merry Christmas From Alizia Gutierrez!
Fitness Model.
Photo Courtesy Of Walt Ostarly.
Week #92 - 12/18/2007
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128

Christine Mascia
Merry Christmas From Christine Mascia!
NPC Figure Competitor.
Photo Courtesy Of Walt Ostarly.
Week #92 - 12/18/2007
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128

Nothing you did happened by accident. It took hard work and dedication to get to where you are today. While it is the vacation and you do deserve a break - you don't want to lose all of that fire and progress. All of the stuff I mentioned earlier you can easily do with little planning, if any

Related Dedication Articles:

Another thing to remember is that you never want to reach the top of the mountain because once you reach the top there's nothing left to gain. If you keep climbing, you'll keep striving and working hard. There is always a milestone to pass, a obstacle to overcome, a feat to master. Don't settle with being content. Keep it moving and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Staying Stress Free

To some people, stress is synonymous with the word holiday. The constant running, coordinating, cooking, and cleaning on top of your normal routine is enough to drive anyone insane. Stress may come from an internal or external source, which you may or may not have control over. You do have the power to choose how you handle each source of stress.

Avoid Procrastination:

    So simple, but it plagues millions every year. Saving shopping to the day before Christmas, trying to get the last turkey on Thanksgiving Day, cooking food for family gatherings on the day of the gathering, and much more causes unnecessary stress.

    Find ways to do things earlier. Shop online. Cook or start preparing your food a day or two in advance. Try to do two tasks at once. Find simpler ways to get the same task done. If you put your mind to it, you can get all of the tasks done before the holiday rolls around so that the only thing you have to do on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years Eve is just enjoy the event.

Do You Procrastinate?

I'll Tell You Tomorrow.

Learn To Delegate:

    Have to set up the house for Christmas? Take your son out and buy a tree. Let the children create and hang the decorations on the tree. Call in some friends to hang up the lighting and other decorations on the walls and windows. Have someone else buy the fruitcake you're going to give to your next door neighbor. Just make sure that you don't do everything, but everyone is capable of doing something well.

Find An Hour Of Silence:

    Take some time out after everyone has gone home, gone to sleep, to enjoy the silence. Take a warm bath, read a book, get a massage, or just lay down at home quietly. Resist thinking about the hectic nature of the holiday, stretch, relax, and breathe a big sigh of relief.

Therapeutic Massage - Making It Work For You.
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Therapeutic Massage.
Find out why Mara believes adding a weekly massage to your training schedule may actually benefit your workouts and wellness.
Pamela Blackburn

Go Workout:

    This one is really simple - If you're really stressed, take it out on the weights. It's much more productive than taking it out on the walls and you'll still get that workout in.

2nd Place - mrkdrt
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

"The holidays." No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, all enjoy the "break" from everyday grunt work and hustle. Although it would make sense that this time of year, more so than other times, to take a break from training and fitness, it may be better physically and mentally to stay true to your goals.

Staying In Shape Over The Holidays
What Is The Best Way To Stay In Shape Over The Holidays?

To stay in shape over the holidays, it is probably most important to remain dedicated and true to your current diet and workout program. Although there are many temptations to eat "cheat foods," veg' out and relax; remind yourself bodybuilding and fitness takes dedication.

  • Moderation - This is probably the key to getting through the holidays without stealing your thunder. Of course, there's no problem in having a slice of cheesecake here, a bevy there - just do it in moderation. Unless you're cleaning the dinner party out of booze and sugar cookies, it shouldn't be an issue. If you've been faithful for your diet for so long, you deserve a cookie!
  • Neutralize Cheating - If you do partake in cheating on your diet and program, make up for it. If you eat a ton of cheat foods - why not throw in an extra intense cardio session that week?
  • Limit Alcohol Intake - Nothing is wrong with having a social drink during the holidays, but give yourself a limit. By limiting yourself BEFORE you go out, you have a better chance at waking up the next day without a hangover.

A hangover will kill your routine, you may not feel like eating diet food (if anything at all), and it will definitely kill your will to drag yourself to the gym. Also, excessive alcohol intake has been shown to decrease testosterone levels, and no guy wants that!

Effects Of Smoking And Drinking On Bodybuilders!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Effects Of Smoking And Drinking On Bodybuilders!
I'll explain some of the effects of continuing those habits and suggestions to stop.
Herve Duchemin

Avoiding Temptation
What Is The Best Way To Avoid Temptation Over The Holidays?

At a fancy Christmas dinner, there is bound to be a feast of cheat foods and desserts to engorge in. It may be beneficial for your goals, and maybe to motivate others (even better!), to prepare and bring a platter or dish that won't stray you too far from your diet program.

The cold outdoors can be hard to motivate you to get to the gym or go for a run. Why not grab the jump rope? What about the staircase at home? Use what you can indoors at home to at least do SOMETHING.

What Recommendations Can You Make For Those Who Cannot Get Motivated?

Lack of motivation can lead to decrease in gains. It's safe to say that no person that may read this wants to decrease gains, and put themselves further from their goals. Motivation is a mental game, it is the driving force that helps push towards accomplishment of anything, for anyone (not just bodybuilders)! To give your mind a motivational kick in the @$$:

  • Give Yourself Goals - Not many, just enough that you can dedicate enough time and effort that your goals are attainable. Make goals short and concise. As an example, "Do 20 minutes of intense cardio every second day." Easy enough right?

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Bonus Question
Stress Is At An All Time High And Can Affect Your Health Goals. What Steps Can Be Taken To Keep This To A Minimum?

Stress is likely one of the greatest inhibitors of good health. Not only can it demotivate you mentally, but it can physically suppress your immunity (leading to illness) and can even inhibit growth and fitness. Mental stress can be battled with positive thoughts and inspiration.

Thinking towards the future, after your stressful period will end, will keep you moving forward, to get through it. Physical stress, on the other hand, can limit your ability to perform in the gym or on the track.

To battle physical stress, it may be beneficial to take a break. Say skip one workout, but make up for it on a usual "break day" - basically you are allowing more rest for your physical stress but still staying true to your regiment by exercising just the same as you would, per week.

It May Be Beneficial To Take A Break.
+ Click To Enlarge.
It May Be Beneficial To Take A Break.