Training | POSTED December 26, 2023

Tips Yule Love for the Holiday Season!

In our previous article, we looked at how our trainers are approaching their training these holidays. Training isn’t the only health promoting behaviour, however. Whether it’s enjoying social events, eating good food or being generally active, there’s plenty to do. For many, although the holiday period is a time to be festive, stress looms. Some might worry they’ll derail their hard work, others simply dreading the hoo-ha of events and gatherings. Thankfully, being sufficiently active and maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t involve rigorous sacrifice. Although everyone’s experience will be different, today we’ll share our tips about how we as Trainers still maintain our health through this holiday season.

Rachael: Consistency is Key

The saying that I find myself repeating to clients every year is: It’s not what you do between Christmas and New Years, but what you do between New Years and Christmas. Of all the tips I give my clients, this is the most important.

The break over Christmas and New Years is only a week. If we break that down, it’s only 2% of our entire year. Definitely not enough time to derail our progress with our nutrition or our training. If you are like myself and really enjoy training, by all means, continue to do so over the break. You might find that having a more lax schedule makes training easier to fit into your day or week. On the flip side, taking that time off is also perfectly acceptable if you’d prefer to reset at the start of the New Year. There is no right or wrong approach to training on holidays. Do what feels right, and try to stay active where you can.

I’d also recommend cutting yourself some slack when it comes to your diet, even if you’re working towards a specific body composition goal. Enjoy the extra wining and dining, and that delicious Christmas lunch you’ve been waiting all year for. If I am working with a client on their nutrition over the Christmas and New Year period, I will typically plan a “diet break” over that time so there’s less pressure to stick to their diet (whatever that might look like), and more time to relax and unwind. I’ve never had a client say no to that!

Regardless of how you decide to tackle your Christmas and New Years, I hope that it’s joyful and one to remember.

Jake: Look for Opportunities

One of my tips is to reframe the holiday period in regards to being active. Practically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with kicking back and taking it easy for a couple of weeks. Actual strength and muscle loss and a decay in cardiovascular fitness takes at least a few weeks of not just detraining, but restrictive activity (think bed rest) to significantly decay. Moreover, without getting too technical, some of the adaptations we get from training (capillaries, myonuclei etc.) don’t just disappear immediately (or at all!) and therefore, it can often be easier to rebuild fitness than gain it in the first place if your break is not substantial. So, long story short, there’s nothing to worry about.

That being said, I always encourage people to continue to be active where possible and it doesn’t even have to be structured exercise. Go out to water parks and beat the heat, explore a new track or trail in our country’s backyard, maybe check out Luna Park, walk around and jump on some rides, then walk around the harbour and get some ice cream! It could even be some backyard cricket. Whatever the case, where there’s an opportunity to go out and create some memories, there’s often an opportunity to move your body too. I also think it’s important to not let others’ opinions of your health-making decisions affect you. If you simply enjoy training, there’s no “physiologic” basis for taking a break over two weeks. We don’t use that logic with basic stuff like brushing our teeth, why is it any different with being active?

You’re more than allowed to relax, but you’re also allowed to use that spare time to get out and enjoy the active things you already do.

Tom: Have a Break, Maybe have a Kit-Kat!

One of the tips that I like to give clients is about taking a step back from their regular routine. When it comes to the holidays, what you do won’t ultimately have a huge impact on your progress. I’m all for maintaining healthy exercise and nutrition habits if that’s your preference, but it’s also completely okay to just take a break.

I like to visualise where I want to be in a year, and how my holiday habits will affect that. Will I be significantly weaker than I expect at the end of 2024 because I didn’t train for two weeks? Absolutely not! Will my body composition be dramatically different because I had a bit more to eat than I normally would? It’s incredibly unlikely. I probably won’t be making much progress, but that’s what the other 50 weeks of the year are for. Health and fitness are lifelong endeavours. What matters is consistency in the long run, not what happens for a couple of weeks.

Instead, focus on giving yourself a break and doing what you enjoy. Sleeping in, spending time with loved ones, going for a scenic walk, or however you like to relax. Stress and tiredness have a well-documented negative effect on health and performance. Relaxing now means you’ll be in a better position to start working towards your goals again in January!

Overall, don’t worry too much about putting your training and nutrition on pause these holidays. It won’t make much difference in the long run, and you’ll get a ton of benefits from just taking the time to slow down and enjoy yourself.

Bri: Balance doesn’t mean walking a tightrope

I think we can all agree that during the festive season is a time when we may be indulging more. More than what we do during other times of the year. We may have more social events, friends and family gatherings, holidays and meals and drinks out.

My tips are about finding a balance. What I personally implement is focusing on keeping the other meals around those social outings smaller. Aiming to keep these meals more nutrient dense and lower in calorie. For example, if I have a dinner and a couple drinks planned, I will prioritise a smaller breakfast and lunch that day. I know that my meal later is going to be quite calorie dense and nutrient sparse. Rather than having the mindset of ‘I can’t go out for dinner’, I am making some small substitutes in the day. This is to try to even it out without having to do anything too extreme.

I am all for balance and believe that being social is part of a holistic approach to health. During the festive season however, I still implement what I like to say, ‘ticking off the boxes’. Ticking these off still ensures I provide my body with what it thrives off most days of the week.

It can feel like a tough balance between feeling like you are going to undo all of your hard work that you have accomplished and wanting to relax and enjoy yourself. However, as mentioned above, it’s what we do between New Years and Christmas as that is a much larger portion.

I believe in spending time with your loved ones and making memories over feeling unnecessary guilt.

Have a happy holidays!

We hope you found value in our four tips. The holidays should be a time to recharge and enjoy the company of loved ones. Whether it’s an epic feast, running around in our country’s backyard or staying inside to beat the heat and whipping out the old Monopoly board – there’s plenty of memories to be had. Your health isn’t dictated by one to two weeks of madness, instead, it’s built on long-term habits. Moreover, healthy habits are about striking a realistic balance. Let’s summarise today’s tips: To be consistent, we must allow room for the ebb and flow of life rather than force rigid routine. Ultimately, the holiday period is an opportunity to enjoy that rare commodity, time, the way you see fit.

As we wrap up for the year, the team at Ivy Training wish you all the best. If you’re looking to start the New Year strong, you can contact us here. Take care, and we’ll see you in 2024!