Avoiding the Holiday Nutrition Snowball Effect


Nutrition is already difficult. And this time of year takes things to another level.

We know it’s coming in the next month or so, leading up through New Year’s…

We’ve built up good momentum, are already consistent with our fitness and nutrition, and are feeling pretty good.

We’re eating quality foods 80% + most of our days and we’re hitting our fitness consistently 2+ times per week without deviation.

Our next greatest opponent to challenge all the behaviors and momentum we’ve built is right around the corner: The holiday season.

The holiday season challenges all of that in its own unique ways.

I know that in the past we’ve gotten:

  • Very stressed around the holidays,
  • Fallen off our nutrition routine
  • Lost consistency with fitness

And these patterns are likely to emerge and challenge us again and again.


While the holiday season is an exciting time, with family gatherings, memories, delicious foods, and quality time with the people we love, it’s very natural and normal for our nutrition and fitness to take a small step back.

How big of that step back is in your hands and your control.

The snowball effect happens when that small step back turns into walking backwards or in complete reverse.


At Thanksgiving, we are around people we love and we feast. We are in company we love and enjoy and we let our guards down temporarily.

We eat foods we wouldn’t or don’t normally eat on a regular day-to-day basis.

These tasty treats and variance throws our taste buds into extreme sensation and pleasure-seeking mode.

This snowballs when ONE day with ONE meal turns into days or even weeks of over-indulging or eating too much of those joy foods and not enough real, whole food.

We are officially off our routine.

Then with Christmas around the corner our levels of stress are higher.

This leads to that need for a quick impulse or feel-good to be at an even higher level, so we continue down this path.

As exciting as Christmas is for most of us, we can be in a constant state of stress about schedules, gifts, shopping, expectations or worries.

We then skip the gym more, and lose out on our daily dose of health, wellness and endorphins.

Missing a day here or there is normal and isn’t going to derail our progress.

It’s when we fall off our normal 2, 3, 4 or 5 day a week fitness regime that we put ourselves in this hole and the further we get into, the harder it is to get out of it.

And when we do eventually make our return we are unfortunately met with difficulty, a feeling of everything is difficult and we’re winded so quickly and easily. We’re out of shape!

This makes the very thing we loved and enjoyed so regularly seem so difficult.

Our will is challenged.

And then, New Year’s hits.

A classic time where people stay up later than normal, overeat snacks and drink alcohol to celebrate the closing of a year and beginning of another.

The staying up late, food and alcohol combination throws off our entire daily rhythm and leaves us with more anguish than excitement.

These factors in combination put the downhill snowball effect in full speed.

They challenge all the good behaviors, mindset/mentality and healthy consistent actions we’ve built up over the past year.


Aware – Acknowledge – Action

Awareness, that’s the first step.

Second, we must acknowledge.

We can acknowledge that our nutrition will not be perfect over Thanksgiving and Christmas and that we will fully enjoy those meals and moments with loved ones, guilt free.

We acknowledge in advance that we will likely be around others (people we love) who don’t share the same will, drive, discipline or goals as we do.

Sadly, even the same desire for high levels of health and wellness are not shared.

(Friendly tip: If your family knows you as the “healthy person” or “workout nut” a couple things may happen during this time of year…..
One – they may challenge your discipline or healthy ways, or Two – they may talk or communicate in a way that almost shames you for being so healthy or them for not. I encourage you to not be reactive but to lead by example and allow your best self to show up in these instances. Meet them with unwavering love and understanding. What is really being said without actually being said is “I wish I had the level of discipline and commitment to my health as you do.”)

We acknowledge that although we may travel or need to do holiday shopping or be out of town, we will remain MORE consistent within the gym than not.

Third step, the most critical is we take action.

We take action in not letting ourselves spiral out of control due to 1-2 holiday indulgences.

We take action in committing to a minimum amount of days in the gym per week because we know it will lower our stress, help keep moving us closer to our goals, bettering us daily and that if we don’t we dig a hole that the deeper it gets the harder to climb out.

We take action in planning our nutrition and meal prep ahead of time.

We plan our schedules around our workouts.

We plan what days we will be traveling.

We plan what healthy and nutrient foods we will be eating a majority of our days.

We plan to get back on track the meal or day after we eat “out of the norm.”

We plan ahead and we vow to not let 1 or 2 days where we eat out of routine (Thanksgiving and Christmas) make the other 30+ days of nutrition a wash and set ourselves further away from our ultimate goal and actually hinder our progress, body composition and ultimately how we feel day to day.

We know this time of year our healthy habits will be challenged the most.

We get ahead of that challenge by being aware it’s coming, acknowledging what we need to do and not do and taking and committing to action.

Because the alternative?

That snowball effect turns into an avalanche that some can never recover from.

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