Fit4 The Holidays

As the holiday season is rapidly approaching, many people fear the 5-10 pound weight gain that may occur with a cornucopia of family and friends festivities.  In addition to some weight gain, loss of fitness may occur as time constraints increase with the hustle and bustle of endless obligations. Eating healthy and staying fit is difficult to balance. Even the most committed people stray from their health and fitness goals during the holidays.

Let this year be different.  Do not become a statistic.  There are 35 days between Thanksgiving and New Years Day and you must be determined to make the most of them.  Stay on track with these tips from leading experts in health, fitness, nutrition, sports medicine and behavioral psychology, and make fitness part of the celebration all season long.

Being FIT includes eating healthy, exercising regularly, having a solid sleep routine and maintaining stress.  Each element of fitness is typically challenged further during the holidays as stress increases, nutrition habits decline, exercise is decreased or non-existent due to lack of time, and sleep habits are disrupted.

To make FIT happen, consider adopting the FIT Five as part of your daily routine.  The FIT Five includes: Food, Inspiration, Vision/Value and Exercise.  Spend 5 minutes on each element of the FIT Five each day to assist in maintaining health and fitness throughout the holiday season. 

Spend 5 minutes each day planning your meals and hydration for the day to make good food choices, 5 minutes thinking about something that inspires you to make healthy choices, 5 minutes on your vision and value (what is your vision for fitness and health and what is the value to you), and 5 minutes exercising.   This amounts to 20 minutes each day and although this is a busy season, you are worth 20 minutes a day.

The following is a simple 5 - minute exercise routine that requires little equipment and little space.

Another option is performing supersets. There are 2 exercises per superset with a total of 3 supersets.  In each superset you will perform 10 repetitions of each of the 2 exercises and repeat for 3 sets.  Begin with superset 1 and after 3 sets of each exercise is complete, rest one minute and move on to superset 2 and follow the same pattern, and then rest for one minute and move to superset 3, and follow the same pattern.  At the end of the session you will have worked opposing muscle groups for a balanced workout with supersets challenging your metabolism and cardiovascular system.  Try this routine below.  Begin with a warm up, and cool down and stretch at the end of the routine.


  • Push up
  • Squat

Rest 1 minute


  • Lunge
  • Triceps Dip

Rest 1 minute


  • Crunch
  • Burpee

Tips For Staying Fit During The Holiday Season

  1. At holiday functions, instead of eating out of control, eat mindfully.  Choose the treats that have special or sentimental meaning and only eat half of a typical portion.  Control portion sizes with the right amount of calories for your goals.  Consider adopting healthier versions of traditional holiday cooking.  Always have a plan for eating and hydrating this season.  Tracking is important as we all underestimate the amount of calories we take in.  Remember to indulge for the one day of the holiday and not everyday throughout the whole season.
  2. Plan high and low calorie days.  If you know you have a party tomorrow with a larger amount of caloric intake, then eat fewer calories than usual for a couple of days before the party.  Staggering caloric intake in this manner helps to boost metabolism.  Be careful to avoid binge eating, however.
  3. Keep moving.  Even if you sit at your job, get up every hour and move. During TV viewing get up during commercials and do some type of exercise.  Schedule exercise sessions as you would a meeting or task to ensure making time for exercise.  Enlist a buddy to keep you motivated and accountable.  Work out prior to eating a big meal during the holidays to balance the additional calories at the holiday meal.  Work harder on the days you don’t have parties to attend to burn additional calories.  Adopt High Intensity exercises that increase your metabolism and burn fat with less amount of time needed per session.  Any activity is better than no activity.  Walk during shopping as opposed to shopping online, or any activity you enjoy during this season that will keep you moving.  Create a holiday challenge with family and friends.  Maybe it is trying a new bodyweight exercise each day, trying a yoga pose each day, beginning a running/walking challenge, or maintain weight this holiday season for example.  Start a fitness tradition that is holiday themed and get the family involved.  Sign up for a 5k for charity, or explore a new city to sightsee.  The choices are endless.  The results are the same.  During a very stressful season, movement of any kind will help reduce stress.
  4. The holidays pose additional tasks that might add stress.  Make lists to assist in accomplishing goals each day.  Always expect the unexpected this time of year and have options to handle the unexpected.  Be prepared to help reduce stress.  Consider hiring a professional organizer if you are unable to manage the additional tasks of the season.
  5. Sleep 7-8 hours each night.  Schedule sleep into your daily routine.  If you are rested you will have energy for all the tasks plus exercise and you will be less stressed to handle the obligations the season imposes on us.
  6. Set realistic goals that will create success.  Any goal too large that isn’t realized will add to stress.

Organization is key in life, particularly this time of year.  Scheduling exercise and planning nutrition is difficult during the holiday season, yet most important this time of year to remain FIT into the New Year.  Remember to enjoy the holiday, and note that it is one day, and not all 35 days of the season that you indulge.  This should be a happy time of year rather than stressful.  Exercising regularly releases endorphins to increase happiness and reduces stress so it is a win-win.  Staying FIT this season is a choice and requires some energy and time; however, not staying fit requires more energy and time with negative results.  The choice is yours… Are You Fit or WHAT!


Marianne E. Morano, M.S., ACSM, CWC serves on Cancer Schmancer's Medical Advisory Board. She is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and the CEO and Founder of Fit or WHAT, Inc. Her mission is to empower clients and the community to achieve their personal best through healthy lifestyle programs, creating longevity and quality of life.