Sticking to healthy habits can be more challenging during the winter holidays.

It’s especially hard when we return to family and friends who expect us to be the same person we were in years past. There can be a lot of pressure (from others or from our self) to skip workouts and return to old eating habits. To top it off there are holiday foods that aren’t available to us the rest of the year that we really want to enjoy. Add to that the fact that there’s more to do in less time, and all of this makes it much easier for healthy habits to fall to the wayside.

Exercising a little less and having a few treats won’t ruin all the weight loss and fitness you’ve worked for in the past year,

but dropping your healthy habits for weeks can set your body back noticeably.  And if you’ve gotten used to living a healthier life, you’ll notice your energy is lower and you feel a little off when you revert back to unhealthy habits for days.

If you expect to face some hurdles maintaining your healthy habits over the holidays –

position yourself for success by taking time to plan how to best navigate the challenging situations.

Following is a text conversation I had with a client

a few days ago. His sister was visiting and we were working on maintaining his exercise program while visiting family. It was good practice for when he’ll be visiting his entire family a few weeks from now.

 You going to the gym today and show your sister how strong you’ve gotten? 🙂

 LOL! We will go to the gym I hope

 This will be a good practice run for you for holidays and getting to the gym with family around.
Just go. Get in. Get out. Get back to family.

You can do it!!! I’m sure they will understand. You can even share that you have some goals to reach. They’ll probably be even more excited to support you.

Yeah. That may not be the case with a couple people in my family.

 Well, if that’s the case you’ll have to just assert yourself that it’s something you’re going to do.

It looks something like this: “I’ll see you at 11am. I’m going to the gym.”

Ultimately there’s no need to ask permission or try to get anyone to understand.

Also, morning workouts are better. Then you don’t have to pull yourself away in the middle of something going on.

 Yup. I’ll do better this year.
 I’m a morning person but also prefer to work out to end my day.

 And, by the way, this is the new you! It’s going to be who you are and what you do. So… They all have to get used to it!

Might as well rip off the band aid this year.
 And no apologies.

It’s easy to get into old patterns though.

 Only until you make the new ones.
 Gotta go through that rough patch to come out on the other side.

It won’t necessarily be smooth sailing the first time you try continuing your healthier habits over the holidays.

Sometimes you can ask those around you for support and you’ll get it. Sometimes you won’t get support and you’ll need to be the new you without asking for permission. And sometimes the response you get will be completely unexpected:

One of my students told me that this Thanksgiving she made healthy food suggestions the whole weekend and everyone went along with all of them. She was so surprised to find out that her family really wanted to eat healthy, they just didn’t know how! She also shared that she wouldn’t have had these healthy ideas had she not done her planning with me a couple of weeks before.

Regardless, you know your family and friends well enough by now that you can probably predict when the best times will be to get your exercise. And you can  figure out in advance some things you can say and do if you’re feeling pressured to abandon your new priorities. Most importantly, make sure you’re kind and loving when you assert yourself.

Your family and friends may take some time to get used to the new you. In the meantime, remember they love you, and they will come to accept your new habits and priorities as time goes on.

You may need to try a few different approaches before finding the one that suits you and your loved ones best.

But, it’s worth the effort. Ultimately this is how you will succeed at being the person you want to be – for yourself and for others – over the holidays and other busy times.

What are your hurdles for keeping diet and exercise on track this holiday?

Do you have a plan? If it’s not too personal, share in the comments below.