Staying Fit Through the Holidays


The holidays are coming up — which means it’s time to start thinking about how you want to conquer this hectic time of year. We all like to indulge during the holidays, but you don’t need to completely sabotage your results either. Many people give themselves a pass during this winter season, but most holidays only last a day or two. It’s counterproductive to the progress you made throughout the year to take a big break between November twenty-something and January 1 to indulge. People often say, “It’s what you eat between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that gets you in trouble.” At Stark, we want to adjust this common phrase — it’s what you eat between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that can save you.


Christmas dinner table

Be Realistic

Don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking you’ll get super lean between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The goal for the holidays should be to maintain. You shouldn’t attempt to go one way or another because there are many parties, events, and family gatherings filled with food and alcohol during this time of year. No one makes progress 52 weeks out of the year — and that’s okay. Your main goal should be to focus on maintenance during the holidays, so you don’t end up like most people who go backward around Christmas. While physical health is important, maintaining a relationship with your family and friends is also key to your mental and social health. Don’t feel bad about attending these types of events, just be realistic about your expectations and goals.

a narrow flute is filled with a light, bubbly drink and topped with a sprig of rosemary

Plan Ahead

If you know you have a big event or party coming up, we recommend restricting your calories for a few days leading up to it. You can indulge a little during the event — and then get back to your regular routine with minor negative consequences afterward. We all want to enjoy our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners without holding back, so it is okay to be less comfortable during the days in between the holidays. Adjusting your intake by eating fewer calories will set your body up to enjoy these big feasts without having to worry about ruining your progress! It takes more preparation and being mindful of how much you’re eating and drinking alcohol to properly maintain your current body composition. It’s important to remember that alcohol is the first thing to be digested. So if you’re eating dinner and drinking, your body will process the alcohol and put everything else on hold (consequently storing your food as fat).

The regular days between the holidays should be focused on becoming healthier, stronger, having more energy, and thinking more clearly. You will see great maintenance results if you are willing to be less comfortable during the non-holidays! It’s all about balance, so a caloric deficit will prepare your body for that piece of pumpkin pie or glass of egg nog.


Enjoy the Holidays — But Self-Awareness is Key

While we want you to enjoy “the most wonderful time of year,” you should also be self-aware about the decisions you’re making. We emphasize making maintenance your goal because it allows you to enjoy specific days without losing or gaining weight (and it’s a realistic goal).

Dr. Alice warns about excess amounts of sugar:

“Every time you eat sugar, you’re going to get a huge insulin spike. Whenever a man has an insulin spike, his testosterone will turn into estrogen. It’s not a great thing. Maintaining regular blood sugar is important. That’s why our coaches tell some of our students that Christmas is just one day.

Any sugar fluctuation will affect your mood — and a lot of the foods we eat this time of year are filled with sugar. Remember to listen to your body and prepare for those days when you know you’ll be indulging. It’s also important for us to mention that indulging isn’t an all or none thing, indulging in one piece of pie is not the same as eating the entire pie! It’s all about moderation and balance during the holidays. Stark wishes you a happy (and healthy) holiday season!