Enjoy the Holiday Feasts, but Don’t Forget Your Exercise Routine

Fitness & Eating During Holidays

The last three weeks of the year aren’t the busiest of times for personal trainers and other fitness professionals.

Sure, I get the occasional client who wants to get a head start on their New Year’s resolution, but for the most part, this is the time of year when consistency is hard for most people.

Multiple national holidays and family get-togethers in November and December mean plenty of reasons to kick back, relax — and enjoy seconds at dinner. I’m here to tell you that you can still loosen the tie without loosening the belt.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to set any records this time of year. If you have achieved a weight loss goal or if you’re close to achieving one, don’t take any steps in reverse.

Don’t Pass on Seconds at the Dinner Table

You’re going to indulge, and you should, but don’t get lazy, too. Maybe you play in an annual Turkey Bowl football game on Thanksgiving morning, or compete in a Jingle Run on Christmas. Whatever it is, just try to keep moving.

Get the family together for some sort of family exercise. Make it fun, and do what you have to do to stay active. I always encourage most of my clients to not take themselves so seriously this time of year. I want them all to exercise consistently, but I want their main focus to be on enjoying themselves and enjoying the time they have with the people around them.

Eat seconds, sneak in a nap on the couch, and take as many family pictures as your relatives request because those will be the sweetest of memories one day. Try to maintain your fitness level through the holiday season, and just my advice, stay away from scales. Scales lie most of the time anyway. Mirrors do not.

However, if you are strongly committed to shedding a few pounds over the next couple of months — the trick is simple. Go crazy on pie and casserole only on the actual holidays. You don’t need to eat leftover pecan pie and sweet potato casserole four consecutive days after Thanksgiving. Indulge on the actual celebration day and your cravings should be a little less intense for the days following.

Be Smart About What You Eat

I’ve got a bit of a different approach than most trainers, but I believe mental health is just as important — if not more important — than physical health, and I promise you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to completely abstain from all the delicious food. Resisting will only lead to over eating at some point down the line.

Another trick is to cook everything with organic ingredients. I understand this may not be the most economical option, but your total health is probably the most valuable thing you’ve got. You may not save on calorie intake, but you’ll definitely protect yourself from genetically modified food, inhumanely raised animal products and pesticides.

When There Are Bigger Worries on Your Mind

Worrying about losing weight over the holiday season is a minuscule concern compared to some of us who have lost a loved one to mesothelioma.

I’m currently going through my fourth Thanksgiving and Christmas without my stepdad, Jeff Wahl. He lost his life to mesothelioma in October 2011.

It’s times like these that can be harder than ever for some of you. Jeff was the one who carved the turkey while I was growing up. His pecan pie and sweet potato casserole will never be recreated. There’s no doubt the holiday season has not been the same for my family since Jeff lost his life.

I don’t think it’s supposed to be. There’s a sort of growth that comes from pain and loss my family has experienced. Maybe that growth is simply a scar, but whatever it is, I know our skin is tougher because of it.

I understand any situation can easily be made worse, but we made it through a pretty horrific scene, and we’re alright. We made it together. I think that period of time gave us a greater sense of appreciation for what the holiday season truly means.

Know that your loved ones live on through you. We still feel Jeff around the table saying grace. We can picture him laughing as we attempt to recreate his pies, and even though we can’t play or sing as well, we still bring the guitar out and have a good time.

For me, I’ve been able to find a sense of peace in fitness. I understand my passion isn’t everyone else’s, but you don’t have to be a trainer to be passionate about your workouts.

If anyone has dealt with the loss of a loved one because of mesothelioma, this can be a particularly stressful time of year for you. I think you’ll be amazed at how good a great workout can make you feel. Try it and remember to Never Give Up.


Adam Lee is a personal trainer and blogger who writes for The Mesothelioma Center and his personal fitness blog. After losing his stepfather to mesothelioma, he offers his training services to raise money for cancer research.

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