How To Avoid Holiday Fitness Double Bogeys

By Cory Bradburn Illustrations by Peter Arkle
December 02, 2016

"Don't count that!"

You know that commercial where the C-level exec playing golf wants a mulligan on every shot? Nice as it would be to hit lots of (foot) wedges this winter, the sad reality is that shorter days and colder temperatures severely limit playing time for many of us. The "don't count that" mentality can easily creep into our holiday health habits, too. Big family meals, the stress of buying gifts and cold weather can add up to much less movement, much more eating and lots of rust by spring.

Don't let this happen. We consulted with experts at Premier Fitness Camp (PFC) at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. They suggest focusing on three lifestyle elements. If we're aware of how each affects our health, we can make small adjustments and come out of winter lighter, healthier and ready to play.


Illustration by Peter Arkle

We're intentionally avoiding the word "diet" here. As PFC trainer Todd Bassler says, restricting calories or forcing certain foods on yourself usually doesn't work. Instead, Bassler recommends picking a well-rounded meal plan from a nutritionist or fitness professional: "Losing weight is a long-term plan, not a quick fix." Adds Jessica Janc, PFC's director of nutrition: "If you have a plan to prepare healthy meals and snacks, you will be properly fueled and less likely to grab any and all sugary treats you see when the hunger sets in." One tip for not overeating at holiday parties: Have a healthy snack (or protein bar or shake) beforehand. It will reduce your hunger at the event. If you know that still won't stop you from all the sweets and drinks, prepare to work extra hard in the gym before and after.


Illustration by Peter Arkle

Let's face it: We're all less motivated to be active when the weather is colder. But there are still opportunities to take advantage of our otherwise sedentary winters. Having a regular workout routine will trump all else, but you can counter those extra calories you're about to take in by finding little windows of time for "mini workouts." PFC director of fitness Wendy Sallin recommends these strategies: "While you are in line at the mall or sitting in holiday traffic, flex your abs for 10 seconds, rest and repeat until you get to the register or your destination. Set an alarm on your phone and do 20 squats every hour wherever you are. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the snow-dusted golf course for a breath of fresh air! Mini windows of time are all around us. You just need to use them wisely."


Illustration by Peter Arkle

If we convince ourselves it's too cold to move, our chances of being active decrease dramatically. "It's just weather," says Michael Mantell, director of transformational behavior coaching at PFC. "It's a great opportunity to try new activities, to enjoy the crunch of falling leaves under your feet, to have snowball fights with your kids, to do some hiking or jogging or some other new activity that will stimulate your brain and complement your game." Do this and you will increase your chances of loving the coming months while staying in shape. Mantell also notes that "you will become what you believe." If those beliefs include "I'm going to freeze to death," "I'll probably get injured," or "There's not enough daylight to be active," then your game and your health are more likely to suffer when the sun does come out.