Tips for Creating Balance during the Holidays | Erin Stern

Posted on December 20, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Vacations, parties, traveling, and large family dinners can have a big impact on your health, stress level, and fitness level. Fortunately, a little bit of planning and some last-minute maneuvering can make this time of year a little easier. I want to share my favorite tips with you, in hopes that it will help you find a better balance in the next couple of weeks.


This is key. Know that time in the gym tears the body down, and rest repairs it. If you miss a day or two here and there, it’s ok – especially if you have been training hard for the last few months. This is the time that those aches and pains and nagging injuries go away. You’ll be able to enjoy training when you’re back on a routine. Adjust your mindset to allow this time to rest and relax a bit more. Like any muscle, the brain needs work in order to be molded into what you want. If you catch yourself worrying about not training or eating too much, actively try to stop those thoughts and replace them with thoughts of recovering and coming back stronger.

Get the Most Out of Your Workouts

If you miss workouts, it’s okay. Make your days in the gym count by doing circuits, compound movements, and muscle group combinations. This is especially effective if you’ve been training on a “meathead” split, or doing one muscle group per workout. Total body or upper/lower days can burn more calories, help you break through plateaus, and can be amazing time savers.

Incorporate burnouts, drop sets, and finishers to blast through training sessions. Burnouts are sets where you go to failure – just be sure to choose safe exercises for this or have a spotter. Machines, isolation work, or cables are a good choice. Drop sets are sets that start with a heavier weight, and when you reach failure at that weight, a plate is dropped off. Reps continue until failure. Finishers are used at the end of a workout. This is a 5-10 minute high intensity circuit or activity. Finishers can include sled pushes, barbell complexes, body weight circuits, farmers carrys, or any combination of these.

Get a Quick Pump before you Feast

If you have a big dinner planned, train legs, back, or do HIIT beforehand. This will help rev up your metabolism and help you store more fuel in the muscles, rather than store it as fat. If you can’t hit the gym, head to a quiet place and do some air squats, pushups, sit ups, and lunges. This can also help with nutrient partitioning, as it makes your muscles more primed to receive fuel.

Nutrient Timing

Calories are less important than the timing of the calorie intake. Try to eat the bulk of your calories earlier in the day when your metabolism is higher. Late night eating can contribute to weight gain. While I don’t think the word “never” should be used when referring to how to eat or how to train, it is better to try and avoid eating late if possible. Think about the order of things you eat too. Load up your first plate with lean protein and veggies. This can help take the hunger edge off and can leave less room for junk food. Protein has a satiating effect and can help boost metabolism. The fiber and water content in veggies can also help with feelings of satiety. 

Don’t Stay off the Wagon

We all have good days and we all have bad days. If you have a day or two of just eating junk and feel bad about it – it’s okay! Get back on the wagon the next day and start over. Much of holiday weight gain is simply from people saying “to heck with it, I might as well keep eating junk”. Get back into the gym and get back to clean eating as soon as possible. Don’t feel guilty. Much of the weight gain from a day or two of indulging is just water weight. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it comes off!

Thank you for reading, and Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you!


  Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia






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