Avoiding Holiday Health Regression

By: Dan Carpenter

Approximately 4 Minutes Reading Time


Brief Article Overview


  • It’s unlikely that you’ll be hitting any personal bests or achieving your ultimate physique during the holiday season.
  • Instead, view it as a “maintenance” or “deload” phase.
  • Don’t worry about enjoying the holidays, your physique or performance won’t be lost overnight.
  • Having said that, avoid dragging it out. It’s easy to get caught up in the festive period really early on. Don’t let your week off turn into months of excess.
  • Prioritise your social events and avoid unnecessary excess.
  • Relax and enjoy the time off! Nothing feels better than a well-earned break!
  • Set a definite date in the calendar for your first gym session back.





Negotiating the festive season without losing all the progress you’ve worked so hard to gain doesn’t require superhuman discipline, just a little proactive thinking and the right mindset will prevent you from feeling like an alcohol-infused stuffed turkey come January! 


Enter a Maintenance Phase


It’s probably not realistic to expect to be making huge strides of progress over the festive period, be it losing an extra few kilos or hitting personal bests in the gym. If you can, then more power to you! But there’s a fine line between setting goals that fuel motivation and setting yourself up for failure. 


The idea is that over the holiday season, you retain what you’ve worked so hard to achieve thus far. This is simple but not easy, and given the time of year it can feel like your running on a treadmill; lots of effort whilst staying in the same place. It’s important to remember that every day that you don’t regress, is progress. 

One Week, Not One Month 


It’s almost becoming a cliche when the groans ring out as Christmas songs start playing at the beginning of November. The build-up to the holidays seems to begin as soon as Halloween finishes! 


As much as we love Mariah Carey, George Michael and Michale Buble gracing our office radios, when it comes to maintaining your training and healthy nutrition habits, try your best not to follow suit. Set yourself one week (usually when people are off work), and maintain some form of routine and discipline until then. You’ll enjoy that week much more and you’ll be able to savour it, guilt-free! 


Treat the Week as a Deload 


A deload is a period of time dedicated to reducing training intensity and/or volume, which immediately follows after a period of overload and overreaching. You may have heard of athletes ‘tapering’ so that they ‘peak’ for an event. Deloads aim to maintain a training regime, whilst encouraging the restoration and adaptation from the previous training block. So treat your week off over Christmas like a deload. A deload needs to be earned, so maintain some form of intensity in your sessions up until the week arrives. 

Pick Your Battles


Family, friends, work colleagues, distant relatives, they call crawl out of the woodwork around this time of year! It’s easy to say yes to every e-vite you receive and your social calendar starts looking like Santa’s sack, bulging at the seams! It all gets a little overwhelming.


Prioritisation and proactivity are key here, your health, wellbeing and time are precious, so choose your social events wisely. Don’t be afraid of the guilt that comes with saying no. As an actionable example try to limit the numbers of a night out a week for example (beyond 3 should start ringing alarm bells). This is particularly important if you find restraint difficult, prevention is better than cure. Don’t stress, you have plenty of Christmas parties to come over the years! 


Instead of Exercise, Think Movement


Christmas is a great time to wrap up warm and head out for long walks with family, friends and dogs! It’s very easy to stay indoors, sat on the sofa surrounded by food and alcohol for days at a time! Plan some kind of activity every day, get up, get out and get moving. This doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise (it could if you want), but keep the body moving. Your joints, muscles, brain and digestive system will thank us! 

Relax, Recover, Restore 


When all is said and done, this time really is for relaxation. Life can be stressful, so view this week as an opportunity for mental and physical rejuvenation. Enjoy the downtime responsibly, keep the work emails at bay, spend time with friends and family and savour these times which comes but once a year. Recovering is not the same as overindulging and binging, however. At the end of December, you should full of vigour ready to start the new year with a bang, not hungover, full of regret, dreading the first day of work! 


Set a “Return to Training” Date


Although the beginning of the festive period is ambiguous, we can probably agree that by the time January 1st arrives, all is said and done. This is the week in which you choose a day to go back to ‘normal’ exercise training. Setting a specific date ahead of time massively increases the chances you will get the ball rolling again. It also reduces the guilt regarding lack of exercise over your time off, with the knowledge that this is a temporary step off the gas pedal and it’s back to business pretty soon!

Happy Holidays from the CommonPurpose team! 

We hope you enjoy your time off and we look forward to ensuring this year is your healthiest and happiest to date! 



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Disclosure: This article is not to be used as medical advice. If you are currently experiencing physical or mental health issues, please seek professional advice from a fully qualified Nutritionist, GP or Physiotherapist.