3 Old-School Strategies to Enjoy The Holidays and Stay Lean Into The New Year

Three Unconventional Strategies To Enjoy the Holidays Without Packing On The Pounds – Even if You Occasionally “Stuff Your Face”

chocolate covered strawberries
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/3345154686

Every once in awhile, usually around the holidays while I’m eating something delicious at a social event, I receive a comment like this one:

It must be nice being able to eat all of that and not get fat.

So they say with a playfully-despising look. Or, maybe it’s a well-intentioned, “are you really going to eat ALL of that?”

Why, yes. Yes, I am. Oh, and would you be a dear and pass the butter, please? Thanks.

Seriously, that kind of conversation has happened more than a few times over the years. And get this. Despite my seemingly “binge-like behavior” as it may be described by the casual observer, I’m still healthy, fit, and lean. And that doesn’t change over the holidays. So, yes. It is possible to “stuff your face” and still not get fat. And in this short article, I will show you how to do it.


It has begun. Holiday survival guides are beginning to make their appearances around the internet. En masse.

As they do every year, they give you lots of tips, tricks, and hacks for how to get through the holidays alive. Or, at the very least, without getting [much] fatter.

Their lists are oh-so-clever, and no doubt, many of the individuals putting these together are sincere in their desire to help people. But just between you and me, I think most of these resources are misguided, unhelpful, and perhaps even counter-productive. At least most of the ones I’ve seen. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re completely useless, but I think I’ve got a much better solution. At least, it’s worked great for me so far.

So, how about this?

Forget about trying to get through the holidays alive. Instead, give yourself permission to enjoy yourself this holiday season.

I mean, that’s one of the reasons why we have holidays in the first place. Right? So, why not? Live it up. Eat some good food. Drink some fine beverages. Have dessert. Get seconds. And don’t forget to wrap up those left-overs for tomorrow. Go ahead and have fun. And make the most of this special time.

In other words, stop worrying about it so much.

Now, obviously, nobody wants to be ten pounds heavier or in worse shape or health after the New Year. So, it would also be prudent to set yourself up for success so that you’re not feeling guilty or worse yet, regretting some of your decisions over the holidays.

So, here are three things you can do that will help you enjoy the holidays and stay lean into the New Year – even if you occasionally “stuff your face” (according to some). But keep in mind that these are not necessarily quick-fix tips or “hacks” that you might find in a holiday survival guide, but rather principles to live by so that you don’t need those menial solutions. They may not be the easy solution, but they are a better solution than most of what I’ve seen.

1) Eat well most of the time so that the occasional indulgence is no big deal. Set a goal to eat the proper amount of healthy, nutritious, wholesome food that will aid in your health and fitness pursuits at least 90% of the time. Then eat whatever you want for the other 10%. And if 90% seems too strict, go with 80% for now and maybe commit to a higher ratio down the road. Or, go for 95% if you want to eat really “clean” and know you can manage it. Also, drink water at least 90% of the time. Some tea and the occasional (black) coffee is okay, too. And perhaps a couple of other exceptions for some people in certain situations (e.g. milk). But save anything else for a special occasion. That’s one beer/soda/juice/etc. for every 10 glasses of water of so. Or, about 4-6 drinks per week.

In other words, if you want to be able to enjoy food once in awhile, don’t gorge yourself or binge on junk the rest of the year.

2) Make physical activity a significant aspect of your day-to-day life so that your body can better respond to and utilize an occasional abundance of energy (ie calories). Yes, this should include doing some moderate to challenging physical training almost every day. Ideally, you’ll get plenty of movement each day, but you’ll also exert yourself – sometimes, hard. This could be lifting weights, calisthenics, kettlebell training, or doing some hard manual labor in your yard. But any and every kind of physical activity counts here. Even if it just means doing a little more walking. It’ll help. Also, get as much rest, recovery, and relaxation as you need to complement your active lifestyle.

Like improving your diet, optimizing your physical activity regime is a process. And yes, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m telling you to become one of those people.

3) Finally, do the best you can and don’t worry if you don’t get everything perfect. Life is too short to stress out over things like this, and especially isolated incidences that have a very small impact on your overall health, fitness, and quality of life. So, look at the big picture. If you identify some patterns that need to change, then commit to it and move on. And if you fall off the wagon, whether it’s just for a single meal – or for weeks, months, or even years – just get right back on.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I’m not a big fan of recommending clever “hacks” or quick-fix tips that will provide limited, temporary assistance. Call me old-school, but I’d much rather focus on the things that matter.

So, starting right now, why not make a commitment (and decide on some action steps) to live your life so that when the holidays come around – and the resulting celebrations, the abundance of food, and all of the other festivities – you don’t have to worry about packing on the pounds because you’ve got your health and fitness (and your life) in order.

How about that? Capisce?

Final Words

Now, if you want the honest truth, it is nice being able to eat what I want and still stay healthy, strong, and fit. Food is meant to be enjoyed and I enjoy it in spades almost every single day (some days more than others). And I’d like the same for you.

Now, from the whole Siffer-family, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season chock-full of good food, family, fellowship, and fun. You know, the stuff that really matters.

party food for the holidays
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pudstah/456685776
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