The Holiday Season – Training and Nutrition

The holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving has already come and gone. It’s that time of the year again. For many, the next month will include an abundance of holiday feasts and desserts. There may be work parties, family gatherings, and celebrations with friends. The gluttony that follows will lead many to proclaim New Year’s resolutions. After all, something must be done to make up for the holiday splurge, right?

Perhaps, but you don’t need to wait until the new year. I’d rather self-correct a splurge with more immediate action. Doing so doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the festivities that so many enjoy this time of year. It is entirely possible to enjoy the holidays and continue training without interruptions.

Eat, Train, Repeat

Unfortunately, many seem to be confused about how to proceed during the holidays. At this time each year, my inbox fills with questions about what to eat and how to find time for exercise. My response to such questions is always the same. Eat whatever you want. That’s what I do. I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a Thanksgiving feast. I eat huge portions and finish myself off with multiple servings of dessert. It is always a fun day with family and friends.

Stuffing myself like a pig on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that I’ve abandoned a life of health and fitness however. On Thanksgiving morning, I awoke early and exercised. I pushed myself hard knowing what the day would bring. I did more than I would have on a normal Thursday morning.

Later that day, I stuffed myself full and fought through a food coma as I continued to down slices of fresh apple pie. As nightfall came, I was stuffed and exhausted. I couldn’t imagine living and feeling like that on a daily basis. Eating myself to the point that it was uncomfortable was fun for the day, but certainly not something I could do regularly. I wouldn’t want to live feeling that way. I’d much rather feel energized and mobile.

On Friday morning, I rose early and was right back in the gym. I never skipped a beat. I continued through the weekend with intense workouts on Saturday and Sunday. Nothing changed. One day of festivities didn’t ruin me. It didn’t change me. I am still the same person with the same passion.

Making time to exercise isn’t as difficult as many believe. The busiest person in the world has only 24 hours a day. Busy people don’t have the luxury of living longer days. No matter who you are and where you live, you only get 24 hours each day.

Prioritize What Matters

By all means enjoy the holidays, but don’t view them as a time to throw your body under the bus. No one is too busy to exercise. It all boils down to priorities. We all have time for whatever we deem necessary. I am always amazed that people will wake up in the middle of the night to go shopping on Black Friday. They will jump at the opportunity to buy something at a discounted price. If it means waking up at 3AM and sitting in line for several hours, so be it.

Meanwhile, many of the same people will complain that they don’t have time to workout. Is it really that difficult to wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual to exercise? Imagine if everyone in the world started each day with a few sets of exercises such as pushups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges. A simple 30 minute investment in yourself can go a long way. An added plus is that you won’t need a Black Friday coupon. Everyone has the same right to perform the same exercises each day. You don’t need to wait for the newspaper fliers to tell you where the sales are. Any room in your house will do.

Take Action

You aren’t too busy to exercise and you don’t need anything fancy to get started. And if you want to get started, go get started. Don’t tell people that you want to start working out. Start working out. The holiday season isn’t a reason to abandon your body. Flip the switch on the typical excuses and turn the season into something positive for yourself.

I always work extra hard during the winter months. I know that I’ll be enjoying time with family and friends. It serves as an extra incentive to push myself to new personal bests in the gym. There isn’t a turkey or apple pie in the world that could slow me down. I will keep moving forward, with or without the holidays.


“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.”


  1. I know this isn’t something a lot of fitness enthusiasts would approve of but I generally take the week of Thanksgiving and the rest of the year off except for a long walk 3-4 times a week. I will do no other exercise until January 2 of the following new year. If you’re training 9-10 months out of the year that’s is more than some professional athletes and your body certainly needs time away to renew and reinforce your motivation for training. Taking a week off every 8-10 weeks during the year does wonders also for you physically as well as mentally. I’ve got a big sweet tooth so my diet certainly isn’t all that disciplined either but I will cut back on the breads, pasta, sweets, etc., if the flab starts showing too much. If you’re going to make fitness a lifetime committment you just can’t go full throttle all the time, and once in awhile your body and mind need a break from all the working out. Sometimes I’ve taken a week to 10 days off and came back stronger than before.

  2. Indeed, an outstanding post, and immeasurably true on the Black Friday topic. Thanks, Ross! Have a Merry Holiday season with your family and Happy New Gains to you throughout the new year! lol.

  3. Hi! I’ve decided to not gain any weight during the holiday season, and so far I’ve lost a few pounds. I will pick a few treats to eat, but most of it I will graciously turn down. It isn’t worth undoing any of the hard work that took me so long to accomplish. I want to be very happy with myself when I start 2013.

    🙂 Marion

  4. A breath of fresh air. I grow tired of all the “experts” putting out tips for eating healthy on Thanksgiving, etc. To each their own, but one day does not do enough damage to get all up in arms about (unless it leads to multiple days). Anyway, thanks for being the voice of reason out there on this and many other topics.

  5. every time i visit your blog, ross – you always inspire me…everytime to no fail. loved the blogpost…that’s why i push it harder (just like you and many others) each day more than any other time of the year.

  6. I clearly remember reading someone’s book, ” Eat to live not live to eat” 🙂 It really is as simple as shopping on the outside of the grocery store. IMO, and this is just me, I am okay with tuna and lettuce. I don’t need a gourmet meal everyday (just sometimes) :). Society truly makes the concept of nutrition difficult to comprehend. There’s no fat, low fat, low carb, etc… Blah.. OVERLOAD. How about just eat fruits, veggies, meat, and if you want some white rice, OKAY, make it half a cup! Hrm.. Shouldn’t it be common sense? I wonder.

  7. haha, I love this post Ross. Shows you are human, thanks for bringing us all down to earth and showing us its not the end if you happen to have some dessert on the side as you enjoy a holiday with the family.

  8. Hi Ross, I’m a trainer based over in Yorkshire UK and I just wanted to say that I came across you’re blog and it was the right time as I became lost and unmotivated with my training and watching you’re vids and reading you’re blogs really inspires.

  9. Eating until I can’t move is one of the reason’s why I love Thanksgiving! On a typical day I would feel so guilty eating like a 200 lb man, but one day (every once is a while) balances out perfectly. Oh, I love the food coma analogy!

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