Holiday survival guide

With Halloween candy approaching critical mass, turkey and stuffing right around the corner, and the boozin' and snoozin' season soon to follow, you got a hefty problem on your hands. If you've been working hard all year to get in shape, don't let the Santa deliver you a sackful of fat along with your presents!

It all starts with "Awareness"

How can you create more awareness of your attitude, eating, and exercise habits? And, when you look at these areas of your life how satisfied are you?

If you feel like you have room for improvement, write down the internal or external obstacles that are in your way. After coming up with a plan to overcome your roadblocks, tear up, throw away, or delete your obstacles.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” -Anonymous

Step 1: Attitude

“Champions in any field have made a habit of doing what others find boring or uncomfortable” –Anonymous

Whether it scheduling time to go to the gym, packing snacks before heading out of the house, or breaking the couch’s gravitational pull, the process of getting into shape takes a daily commitment to seemingly mundane tasks. Thanks to dramatic before and after pictures which reduce weeks and months of effort into a single frame, we are conditioned to expect “quick” and “easy” results. Purveyors of such interventions often promise that taking a pill, doing an exercise, or eliminating one food group will deliver profound change without a challenge. Our nations growing obesity epidemic is a testament to the ineffectiveness of these methods although that has not dissuaded unscrupulous members of the Fitness Industry from making substantial if ill begotten profits.

Consider for a moment the most rewarding aspects of your current life. Predictably, what you find most rewarding is also that which has consistently challenged you to overcome both internal and external obstacles. The moment to moment journey transformed you in some profound way that could not have happened if you had simply skipped from “A” to “B”.

Imagine the following scenario. After having a baby, you sent your child to be cared for by total strangers. On the child's 18th birthday you were then presented with the “results.” This young adult represents all the qualities that you consider “ideal”. What would your relationship to the child be? Aside from donating a handful of genes and financing it’s upbringing, you would have little connection to the person standing before you. The “results” would be meaningless. The outcome of this scenario is obvious, so why then is it not equally obvious that buying into “quick” and “easy” fitness programs destines you to failure.

So, rather than myopically focusing on the mythical “goal” of immediate results, take some time to consider the journey. Although fraught with challenges, set-backs, and unpredictability, the road will be rich with rewards.

Step 2: Nutrition

Calorically dense and delicious, holiday foodstuffs are a force to be reckoned with. While avoidance is all but impossible, you can strike an acceptable balance between abstinence and indulgence if you follow some simple steps.

Step 1: Don't diet before dinner.
A preemptive purge will usually lead to binging. Eat normally right up to feast time (i.e. don't skip breakfast on Thanksgiving day!) and you'll have an easier time eating a reasonable amount without the added guilt of "blowing it".

Step 2: Exercise after.
A nice walk after dinner will get you away from the dessert table and help aid in digestion.

Step 3: Pile up the veggies. Pile your plate with salads, green beans (not the casserole!), sweet potatoes (again not the casserole!), cranberries (fresh not canned), and other nutrient dense noshes. These will help fill you up without all the excess calories and help keep portions of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc, in check.

Cup O Christmas

This easy-to-prepare snack wraps protein, slow-burning carbohydrates, and healthy fats in a delicious package. The fall flavors evoke the tastes of the holidays without ruining your waistline. As long as it’s kept cold, this snack also keeps very well making it great on the go.


½ cup low-fat cottage cheese

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

In a small bowl (or sealable container), layer cottage cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy

Variations: If you’re not a fan of walnuts, try chopped pecans or almonds. Also, dried cranberries can be swapped for raisins, currants (think tiny raisins), or any other dried fruit. A light sprinkle of nutmeg, ginger, or all-spice can also perk this snack up.

Are you an athlete? You may need to ingest more carbohydrates to help keep glycogen stores primed for performance. Try pairing this snack with a piece of seasonal fruit like an apple or pear.

Ginger Fish Chopped Salad

Textures and flavors combine to make a supremely satisfying salad that can be enjoyed during the winter months. Salmon and pumpkin seeds provide good fats and plenty of protein while cabbage and root vegetables bring antioxidant vitamins and fiber to the party, and ginger and black pepper add a bit of spice to support digestion and stoke the metabolism.


2 tablespoons ginger salad dressing

3oz canned salmon (mixed to uniform texture)

1oz roasted salted pumpkin seeds

2 cups shredded cabbage (red, green, or both)

½ cup shredded carrots

¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

2-3 halved and sliced radishes

Black pepper

In a large bowl, layer cabbage, carrots, red onion, and radishes. Evenly spread the salmon on top of the vegetables and sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the ginger dressing on top of the salmon adding the pumpkin seeds last.

Dirty Snow


1 cup low-fat Greek style yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

Chopped almonds

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and almonds. Drizzle the honey over the yogurt-almond mixture so that it forms a small puddle in the center.

GOPHRs (Good Old Peanut Honey and Raisins) on crackers


2 Wasa brand Multi-grain crackers

2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter

Approx. 15-20 raisins

Lay the crackers onto a flat surface and drizzle 1 teaspoon of honey over each. Spread ½ of the peanut butter to the edges of each cracker (it will more or less mix with the honey to form a paste). Sprinkle the raisins evenly over one of the crackers. Press both crackers together to seal.

Step 3: Exercise

Exercise during the holiday does not necessarily mean shunning your family and friends for a trip to the gym. A more successful approach is one where you find ways to explore activity with the ones you love while supplementing your routine with workouts that you can do at home. You can create a daily routine amidst the chaotic holiday festivities by remaining flexible and open to a variety of fitness possibilities. You may be able to get up early and do yoga one day or run a few miles on another, the point is to do something active.

No equipment core circuit:

Pillar, side pillar, reverse pillar

Plank, side plank, reverse plank

No equipment strength circuit:

Push ups


Sit ups

Prone rows


No equipment cardio circuit:


Split jumps

Shadow box

Side to side hops

Group Activities:



Ball sports (football, softball, volleyball, tennis, soccer, etc.)

Playgrounds (swings, monkey bars, etc.)
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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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