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Tip#1: Avoid these guys. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann

8 Tips for a Successful Holiday Party Fitness Routine

Introduction: Why should you care about a holiday fitness routine?

This is a very important question, because it’s easy to forget yourself during all the fun and excitement of the holidays. Looking at my December calendar, I have at least 4 work-related holiday parties or happy hours. That in addition to the friends and family events can leave you stressed out, rushed, and willing to pause and let your fitness routine fall by the wayside until January. 

But that strategy will surely backfire. Why? Because you will become a New Year’s resolution statistic.Research shows that 95% of New Year’s Resolutions are fitness related, but after just 3 months, only 10% of people think their resolution will last. 80% of all  New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Which is why I actually go to the gym the least in January – I wait it out for the short-term mob and get my precious space back. 

On the other hand, if you follow my tips to stay on track, you will have more energy to zip around this December and enjoy quality time socializing again.

Should you even go to these parties? 

The social holiday parties

Unlike work-related parties, you have some more discretion here. You don’t have to go to every party you when you are invited. Here are some key criteria that I use to decide on my attendance: 

  • Did the person inviting you show up to your last gathering? Then you should go.
  • Have you spoken to this person in 2021? If not, then you can probably skip.
  • How big of a party is it? If it’s an evite with 100 people on it, you can probably be a “maybe” and decide the day before. 
  • Is your reluctance from fear of not knowing anyone or not knowing what to say? This may be a good chance to overcome those anxieties and join the human race again. The pandemic has made us all more socially awkward, and the only way out of that is practice! 
  • Do you have another social engagement you are already committed to the next day?  A weekend of party-hopping can really wipe you out and cause you not to be rested by Monday. Stick to one event – if you can’t decide, pick the earlier one. 

When in doubt for last minute callings, you can always take this going out quiz.

The office holiday parties:

  •  True, not going would be a sure way to avoid all the unhealthy food. As tempting as it may be to skip out on awkward social interactions, especially if there is a dance floor, it’s important to at least make a cameo. Regularly skipping these events sends a message that you do not care about the organization and its people beyond when you are on the clock.
  •  If you take a good look around, you will notice that most of the senior management does attend these events – and that’s because they want to send the right example. 
  • Think of this as the perfect opportunity to get that chance to network with the bosses and also rebuild bonds with your colleagues that the pandemic short-circuited by not regularly seeing each other in the office. 
  • If you are worried about or have a condition that would make large gatherings risky, rather than just no-show, have a conversation with your manager about it. You have the right not to attend, of course, but the extra mile to show your consideration will go a long way. 
people raising wine glass in selective focus photography
Photo by Al Elmes

You Need a Plan to Stay Fit for Holiday Parties – Here’s What You Can Do

Make no mistake – staying on track will be challenging. There is an abundance of food and a lack of time to exercise stacked against you. But with a few tips and tricks, you can stay on track (or even get back on track!) 

Below are some tips that will help you stay on track with your fitness routine during the holidays:

#1: Focus on the purpose of why you are there

Networking! These events can be extremely pivotal for either building new relationships, upon existing ones, and can be where the real movement happens for that next idea, project, or climb in your career! Try and remember that crudites are just there to be like an “amuse bouche” of sorts because that networking is far too vital to miss out on. Even though you are not seated around the board room table, a holiday office party really provides a different environment for creative brainstorming and you want to be relaxed but also stay as sharp as tack! Remember that people will be coming to you in a similar manner and the last thing you would want is to be thinking about if you have mini spinach quiche pieces between your gums! 

#2: Play the tape of what can happen with overdrinking

We have all done it. Had one too many drinks and got teetery. Or maybe even pre-gamed with some other colleagues, reasoning this would make it better because you won’t have to fight the queue at the bar. But waking up the next morning feeling like you crawled out of an exhaust pipe and reaching for your phone to scroll through your outbox is not ideal. Even one extra glass of wine can lower inihibitions enough to not stop yourself from bypassing the vegetable tray and going straight for the sliders. So here is the corproate DAO guide to drinking:

  • Limit drinks with alcohol to a maximum of two.
  • Avoid mixing drinks. Especially wine and liquor. Just don’t do it.
  • Drink coffee, tea, soft drinks, and water. Get a glass of sparkling water in a short glass to blend. In truth no one should care whether or not you drink, and most of the time, no one actually does.

Going with a similar “sharp as a tack” theme from above, you want to keep yourself in check completely so that you can stay on it! You want to sip, savor, and nurse your beverage slowly because the effects of alcohol can hit quite quickly; therefore, try diluting half of your drink with club soda/ sparkling water and citrus or club soda/sparkling water and citrus completely. No one has to know that it is not alcohol and you would be completely surprised at how satisfying and refreshing it is! 

Try your very best here to remember that when you drink, it really physiologically dehydrates your body like none other, so having lots of water nearby will help mitigate the sound of tomorrow’s alarm! 

#3: Plan, plan, plan ahead. Bring healthy snacks with you wherever you go.

If your holiday party is on a cruise boat or someone’s house, pack something light and healthy – like fruit or nuts. My personal favorite that fits right into my purse are Madi K’s salted almonds. You can discretely nibble on a few without making it a big deal. If a meal is being served, usually the party organizers have you fill out a registration form indicating your preference of meal, or whether you have any allergies. Even though I am not a full-time vegan, I always choose the vegetarian or vegan option, because that guarantees I will get more veggies and less meat and potatoes smothered with cheese.

#4 DO.NOT. GO. TO. PARTIES. HUNGRY. No really – don’t!

First of all an empty stomach will make you get tipsy quite faster and possibly do something embarrassing that you will never be able to live down. Going to a party full of food when you are starving and expecting not to eat everything in sight is like expecting to go out into the rain without an umbrella and not get wet.

Eating nothing or grazing during the day backfires in a few different ways. First of all, at some point, you will experience some ‘hanger’ followed by brain fog in your day, then, because you have put your body into starvation mode, it is now ready to gorge on everything that your eye sees. If you are choosing to drink, alcohol will hit you faster, lower your inhibitions, which then also causes you to continue to gorge more than your stomach can take, and this all leads to painful sleep, and an awful headache tomorrow.  And, it is a vicious cycle – your body naturally produces chemicals that make you crave greasy, fatty food – which explains why McDonald’s seems so tempting the next day. The sweet spot is to eat about 3-4 hours beforehand. That will give your food time to digest without making you feel bloated. My recommendation is to have some soup (like this Carrot Ginger flavor one from Pacific Foods) and some nuts, this way you won’t be bloated or feel too full. Too much protein or a lot of raw veggies, on the other hand, can make you more susceptible to digestive issues, so save that for your munchies the next day!

#5: Keep your mouth and hands busy with other than food items

Carrying a clutch will make it harder to carry a plate full of food. Also chew mint gum – The action of chewing may reduce hunger, make you feel fuller, and help you experience fewer cravings, particularly for snacks .  In one recent study, chewing gum reduced hunger and cravings after a 10-hour fast as effectively as drinking a calorie-rich beverage

One of the best weapons you can have is your makeup! Wear a vibrant color of lipstick or lip gloss – totally great for a party. This will make you less likely to want to mess it up. I am a huge fan of plum or berry colors, because it is not as in your face as red, and they look good on most complexions. Try NARS lip gloss in Dolce Vita (and BTW, all NARS lip gloss is on sale!) .

Even if the lip gloss tip doesn’t apply to you, gargling mouthwash can have a similar effect of not wanting to ruin your pristine breath.

#6: Find an activity to do with people near you, like taking photos, playing games.

NOT drinking games. You are not at a frat party. If there is a ping pong table, board game, photo booth or other fun activity, jump in! These activities will help take up some of your time so that you are occupied and not gravitating towards the bar and food table. It is also a good way to mingle and meet more people..

#7: Keep those steps up! (With shoes you can step in)

If your outfit permits and the weather permits with the location ahead, try and walk to your event. If you are not walking, use the opportunity to circle around and mingle. This is NOT the occasion to wear your six-inch Louboutins. You don’t need to wear Crocs, but do wear a reasonably comfortable shoe, preferably boots or a wedge. If the party’s at a hotel or booked venue you may have to deal with slippery steps and floors, and you need to be agile, for example, if you have that one chance to speak to the managing partner, you don’t want to lose it because you are moving at a glacial pace. Also, you will likely be standing most, if not the whole time.

If you are heading to the party from the office, find a group of people that want to walk with you!

Here is some more reading to get you motivated to get outside. 

5 Reasons to Go Outside Even When it is Freezing 

dog about to catch red ring
Playing with your pooch in the snow TOTALLY counts as NEAT cardio. Photo by Anastasia Ulyanova

#8: Get in the right workouts

Even if it is just 20 minutes a day, get some movement in to motivate your fitness mindset. You should be celebrating all accomplishments at this time of year, big and small. My goal is modest until the end of the year – yoga twice a week (for my mental health), and cardio for 30 minutes 5 times a week (including walking outside).

What type of workouts are best suited for a holiday party fitness routine?

You may want to focus more on cardio than you would normally. The reason is CICO – calories in, calories out. You will inevitably be eating more calories, so the more calories you can burn, the better. Cardio also does wonders for relieving stress and keeping your body warm. Hop on the treadmill while you Zoom (see my post with tips here), go for a brisk walk with your dog after dinner, or try a new cardio workout class, like Zumba. 

Cardio is also the perfect activity for when you are short on time. You can fit a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout early in the morning, so that nothing can get in your way later. See my post on HIIT for info on how you can do this with no equipment but your own body. This is also a good option if you are away for the holidays, either with family or at a vacation spot. 

Also, remember cardio includes NEAT (see my post here). Playing with your nephews and nieces, kids, dogs, caroling, even baking and cleaning are all ways that you can burn extra calories and stay busy. Both of which are good for your phyiscal and mental health.

Conclusion: How to make it through this year’s festivities with good health

We are all challenged at this time of year – it’s cold and gloomy (in many places), we aren’t getting enough sleep, work is a big sprint to the December finish line, and we have less and less time for self-care. But prioritizing your fitness routine even if it is only something you do for 15 minutes a day is a setup for a successful road to 2022. 

Above all, practice self-compassion. You are not going to go through this process perfectly. You might have one drink too many, or a Christmas cookie splurge. Not the end of the world, and never a reason to give up. Allowing yourself to relax and not be too hard on yourself enables you to listen to your body to see what you really want and/or need in the moment. When you are able to take that little moment, you might just be able to have your cake and eat it, too 🙂


This is a great post about office holiday party etiquette

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