Well, Sascy Cyclists, it’s that time of year again!
We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and we are feeling BUSY!
I feel like with 2020 behind us, and this being more of a “normal” holiday season in 2021, that I am right back to the hustle and bustle of previous holiday seasons.
Getting on the bike is HARD.
Not only that, but focusing on my nutrition and making good food choices?
I would say that is VERY hard.
I absolutely LOVE the holidays. I love putting up the tree, playing Christmas music, and getting into the holiday spirit! I love getting together with friends and family, and I absolutely love all of the wonderful food.
Christmas cookies are my JAM. I made some this past weekend, and I am proud to say my household has CRUSHED that batch of cookies and is looking forward to the next one!
I feel like it is so important to enjoy the holidays AND stay mindful about my cycling and weight loss goals.
It is not either/or. I can absolutely do both. And I absolutely SHOULD do both.
I should enjoy this time with my friends and family, enjoy the awesome food, and also find time to get on the bike and make good food choices as well.
You, my friend, can do this as well! In this article I detail my tips for enjoying the holidays while being mindful of your health and fitness.
Tip #1: Break Out That Calendar!
Literally the first thing you should do during the holidays is to take a very honest look at your calendar.
We always feel SO busy, and like there is ALWAYS so much to do this season.
However, when you actually take out a calendar around the holiday season, you start to realize that there are days of celebration scattered about.
And there are events and obligations scattered about. I mean someone has to buy those gifts AND wrap them and MAKE those Christmas cookies we all love so much!
BUT, for the vast majority of us, there is plenty of other time as well.
Every time I actually look at my calendar and see where my celebrations are planned, I can also see where they are NOT.
I can see those days and hours in-between where I can get on the bike, and where I can plan out healthy food choices.
When I sat down and actually LOOKED at my calendar for November and December this year, I realized I only had about 5 days of planned celebrations where I would be choosing to indulge in some of my favorite foods.
Yes, you heard me, 5 out of approximately 60 days.
That means that I had 55 days where I could make healthier choices and ride my bike.
You see, we have it in our minds that the holidays are so busy, and that we must have so many things to do. The fact is that YES they are busier, for sure, but they aren’t so busy that we don’t have any time to focus on ourselves or our goals.
So many years around this time I would just throw all of my healthy eating and cycling habits out the window during the holidays and figure I would pick it all up again in January.
For years, I truly didn’t understand that it didn’t have to be all or nothing, and that I could do both!
Tip #2: Recognize That You Can Be Healthy AND Enjoy the Holidays
As I just said, it truly doesn’t have to be either or.
You can make better food choices AND enjoy your favorite not-so-healthy foods.
You can ride your bike AND eat Christmas cookies.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
You can (and should) have both.
Make sure that you are really, truly giving yourself the space to enjoy all of the things about the holiday season without the guilt.
I focus on enjoying the foods I love, and really recognizing when I have had enough. One or two Christmas cookies is enough for me. I don’t need to eat Christmas cookies until I feel sick to enjoy them.
I mean, then I just kind of feel sick!
Also, I must point out that there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING wrong with having some roast beef on Christmas Day if that’s what you want.
Roast beef is amazing. It’s incredible. Growing up it was always my favorite meal. With gravy. LOTS of gravy.
These days I pretty much only have it on Christmas because I am the only person in my house that is THIS obsessed with roast beef, so you can bet that I will be eating AND enjoying my roast beef that day.
I am not going to grinch myself out of that meal!
I can eat roast beef on Christmas AND put my health first.
Maybe that means I also ride that day. Maybe it means I make healthier choices for my other meals that day, the day before, the day after, or any of those other 55 days where I don’t have a celebration/event planned.
Also, and most importantly, I can enjoy that meal without eating so much of it that I can’t even walk after or have to wear stretchy pants.
I can eat my roast beef, enjoy it, and recognize when I have had enough.
You, too, can absolutely do this with your favorite foods. Plan for them in advance, enjoy them, and stop when you have had enough.
Tip #3: Plan for (and Enjoy!) Your Favorite Things
Now, let me take this opportunity to share that there are no “bad” foods.
There are foods that are healthier, for sure, but there are no “bad” foods.
Once we stop looking at food as “good” and “bad”, and start allowing ourselves to eat what we want without feeling guilty and beating ourselves up over it, something really funny happens.
We stop wanting the foods we used to consider “bad” all of the time.
We aren’t depriving ourselves of the things we want, and so they don’t have power over us anymore.
If I go through the holiday season not having any Christmas cookies, and not having my awesome Christmas dinner, I am going to feel like I am keeping myself away from all of the things I love.
Then I am going to get annoyed, say “eff it” and eat ALLLL THE THINGS.
Instead, I have a couple cookies when I plan for some cookies. And I enjoy my holiday meals.
And on the days and meals in between I focus on making sure I eat more healthy foods that fuel my body and fuel my rides.
Tip #4: Schedule Time to Ride
Remember how in Tip #1 I encouraged you to look at your calendar? When you do this, you should also plan your rides.
I usually do this weekly so that I can make sure I get in the rides that I want to.
Schedule your rides and make them a priority. They are a commitment to yourself. And a commitment to your health.
Do not see your rides as necessary to burn off your Christmas cookies, though. This isn’t the purpose.
The purpose of getting on the bike is to keep you in the habit of riding your bike and putting your health first, even during the busier seasons.
I mean, will be very honest, I am not setting personal records on the Peloton in the month of December.
I am doing fun, 20-30 minute rides regularly to stay in the habit of riding.
A Christmas ride here, a Queen ride there, a 90s pop ride…you know. The not-so-serious stuff.
In January I am planning to start a different kind of training to get myself stronger for the spring, and to work on my 2022 cycling goals!
But I can’t do that January plan every month. My body can’t sustain that, and it will overwhelm my brain and I will end up avoiding the bike altogether.
December always tends to be a lighter month on the bike for me, and that’s OK.
Our minds, and our bodies, go through different seasons. Different weather seasons, different seasons of life.
During this particular season I choose to give my body a bit of a break, and really focus on enjoying how my body can move.
I like to focus on how my body is capable of spinning my legs, or jogging out to the car if I forget my ID badge for the zillionth time.
Scheduling time to ride keeps me in the habit of moving my body during the holidays. Even if I don’t particularly feel like getting on the bike when I have it scheduled, I feel so good after.
Tip #5: Take Some Quiet Time to Reflect During the Holiday Season
Our mental health during the holidays is just as important as our physical health.
Taking a step back, taking a little bit of time to be on our own, to be grateful for what we have, goes so far to really keeping us focused during the holiday season.
This can come in so many different forms. There is no right or wrong way.
You simply need to be intentional about it, and make sure it happens.
I personally like to take this time first thing in the morning, when I wake up.
I spend a little time writing in my journal, reflecting on the day before, or planning the day ahead.
I write down what I am grateful for, what went well, what maybe I would like to change.
Sometimes I will take five minutes of silence, and just listen to my body, and my breath.
Other times I might grab Maddie’s leash and take her out for a walk, and just listen to the sounds of the neighborhood.
Like I said, there is no right or wrong way. Carve out a little bit of time, each day if you can, to just be present with yourself and reflect. This truly helps so much with our focus on the holidays, and on what truly matters in this season.
So there you have it! My 5 tips on How to Stay Focuses on Cycling and Weight Loss During the Holidays. Hopefully there is at least a thing or two in this article that you find useful.
Remember, there is no either/or. You can enjoy the holidays AND stay focused on cycling and weight loss.
Have a wonderful, amazing, fun-filled holiday!