5 small but S.M.A.R.T. changes to make for a better you in 2020

*If you’re only here to get to the good stuff, scroll on down to the end. If you want some higher level stuff to simmer on and you have 2 extra minutes to burn, let’s do this: 

In the midst of this season characterized by goal-setting and resolution-making, I think it’s absolutely imperative you first address your mental state. The fact of the matter is, most people will, in some form or fashion, set some goals for themselves in 2020. 

Eat more vegetables.

Drink more water.

Cultivate a discipline of gratitude.

Run a marathon.

Worry less.

Spend more time with my family.

Put away your laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. 

All of these statements have one common denominator: they’re all describing a “better” version of the person stating them; revolving around one’s identity. It’s not that I simply want to “get in shape” or “read more”, it’s that I want to be a person who is healthy and BE a person who reads voraciously. My resolutions, and yours, are a window into the type of people we want to become

James Clear puts it this way: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it is actually big. That’s the paradox of making small improvements”.

So, before you put pen to paper and solidify your goals for 2020, consider this: What type of person do you wish to become? How do you plan to get there? Once you have an identity-centric goal, it’s time to figure out what your Identity Building Units or “IBUs” are going to be. In other words — what actions/habits/tactics do you need to establish in order to transform yourself into the future you you hope to become? 

Actions, habits, tactics: be S.M.A.R.T

So let’s get to what all of you have been patiently waiting for: the what and how. Because I am the Nutrition Coach at a CrossFit gym, let’s use a fitness/wellness goal as the example here:

“In 2020, I want to be/become the type of person that is intentional about their fitness and wellness.” 

So, what are the habits of this type of person? We know they probably stick to a certain exercise regimen, fuel their body with whole foods, get plenty of sleep, and drink a good amount of water. But for the sake of getting tactical and practical — we know the actions and tactics in order to become this type of person need to be S.M.A.R.T.; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. So here are 5 small but S.M.A.R.T daily changes you can make to become a person that is intentional about their fitness and wellness:

  1. Buy a reusable bottle with a straw: Drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily is a simple but impactful way to improve both your performance in the gym and your overall health (think: improved digestion, sleep, nails, skin, hair — the list goes on). If you struggle with this, give yourself time goals in order to achieve your daily intake goal. For example, a 160 pound woman needs to consume 80oz of water a day — I recommend breaking it up into 20oz chunks to make it more attainable. 20oz by 10am, 40oz by 12pm, 60 oz by 2pm, 80oz by 4pm — and the rest is bonus points. 
  2. Prioritize your workouts: Just as you would prioritize a meeting with your boss, happy hour with your friends, or soccer on Saturdays — your workouts must become a calendar commitment. Every Sunday, examine your week ahead and plan out your workouts. Put them on your calendar and stick to them. General statements like “I’ll go a few times this week” afford too much wiggle room and won’t set you up for success. Be specific and stick with it.
  3. Habit stack: “Habit stacking” is the concept that when you pair a habit you want to have with a habit you already have, you are much more likely to successfully implement the new, wanted habit. It’s an extremely attainable way to introduce new habits into your daily routine. And what’s one thing you (hopefully) do every morning? Brush your teeth. So, pick one new habit pertaining to your goal to stack on top of brushing your teeth — and do it. Maybe you struggle to make healthy choices during work lunch hours — if so, take this time to pack a lunch. Set it by your keys so it’s at the ready and go about getting ready for the day. 
  4. Eat the rainbow: Whether you’re a veggie fan or foe — we can all work on incorporating more color into our diets. But “eat more vegetables” isn’t measurable or specific, so every week (perhaps as you plan your workouts) map your meals and measure your veggies. Pick 1 new “color” to eat per week, and prep 1c per meal of whatever you choose. 
  5. Get someone in your corner: Whether a gym friend or a coworker who wants to make similar changes — keep your goals relevant and top of mind with someone who can help keep you accountable. 

Thanks for sticking with me, friends! When you sit down to make your New Year’s goals (or maybe rework them a little) and resolutions, remember to ask yourself: “what type of person do I want to become” and then start building S.M.A.R.T.

Here’s to an amazing 2020. Happy habitting. 

Lauren Bratcher

Nutrition Coach

Lauren has been an athlete at Renew since 2018, and has been spearheading Refuel, Renew’s Nutrition Program, since 2019. When she’s not testing biometrics, meal prepping or sending enthusiastic, emoji-packed text messages to her nutrition clients — you can find her at a coffee shop sipping on an oat milk latte or running around Town Lake with her Australian Shepherd. As a former die-hard bootcamper, Lauren’s sweet spots in the gym include any bodyweight-centric movements: box jumps, running, double-unders — which explains why her all-time favorite benchmark workout is Angie. 

Refuel Recipe: Blueberry Lemon Bar Greek (or Icelandic) Yogurt Parfait

Welcome to the second round of Refuel Recipes! Just to review, each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

This month: Yogurt! Of the Greek or Icelandic family! (Wait, what’s the difference?) This versatile gut biome-boosting food is packed with protein and probiotics — and boasts more nutritional value and less fat and sugar content than its traditional American cousin. Before we jump in to the first recipe, here’s a thing or three about why we love Greek or Icelandic yogurt:

Greek and Icelandic yogurts are good for the gut.

Both yogurts, due to their straining processes, are rich in probiotics – good bacteria that can help restore a healthy bacterial balance within the gut biome. A healthy gut can have far reaching positive effects on overall health, yes, even mental health! A 2016 study found that people who ate 100 grams of probiotic yogurt a day or took a daily probiotic capsule experienced less stress, depression, and anxiety than those who did not. This effect is likely due to the relationship between the gut and brain, and the ability of the gut to make neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Greek and Icelandic yogurts fill you up and keep you that way.

Both yogurts contains ~twice the protein content of regular yogurts. Long story short, meals or snacks that are higher in protein keep you feeling fuller, longer! With the right ratio of protein to carbohydrates, yogurt, particularly high-protein Greek or Icelandic yogurt, also makes an excellent post-workout snack.

A great substitute.

Both Greek and Icelandic yogurts have a particular texture profile that make it a wonderful substitute for higher fat foods: it’s cool, it’s thick, it’s creamy! This means it does a pretty decent job of filling in for less nutritionally dense foods such as buttermilk, margarine, and traditional sour creams.

Our first yogurty recipe is simple but mighty. It comes together quickly, makes a great breakfast or snack and, if we do say so, is pretty dang pretty. 

Blueberry Lemon Bar Greek Yogurt Parfait

Serving size: 1 parfait | Number of servings: 1 

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 274 | Fat – 7g | Carbs – 33g | Protein – 21g

Prep time: 5m | Cook time: None!

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp slivered almonds

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl combine greek yogurt, honey and lemon juice
  2. In serving bowl or small mason jar, layer ½ the yogurt, ½ the blueberries and ½ the almonds
  3. Repeat step 2 and enjoy your protein-packed breakfast!

Notes: 

  • Plain or unflavored Greek yogurt is ideal — flavored yogurts often contain a high sugar content. 
  • Plant-based yogurts work well, too! Just be sure to note macros (if that’s for you) and sugar content.
  • This recipe is an excellent make-ahead option for meal prepping! Toppings and all. Simply store in an air-tight container, and be sure to eat within 3-5 days. 

5-Minute Mobility with Andi Lozano of The Mobile Athlete

And today in shocking news: most adults live a sedentary lifestyle. 

From the 8 hours we spend in a fluffy bed, to the 45-minute commute to work, to the next 8 hours spent hunched over at a desk, to the 45-minute commute home, to the hours we spend curled up on the couch in front of the television or scrolling the ‘gram… we’re effectively stalled out in a seated position for two thirds of our day. Long stints of sitting means we’re keeping our hips in a constant state of flexion (and I KNOW you’re hunched forward at your desk) — bringing weakened muscle groups and, as a result, poor movement patterns and habits into the gym.

While many coaching-centric gyms provide proper warm-ups and cool-downs for a grueling WOD, you should be moving your joints through their full ranges of motion every single day — regardless of whether you make it to the gym. Mobility and stability movements can help keep your joints healthy, reduce your risk of injury, and give you strong and ~supple~ muscles. So if you can’t make it to the gym, or you’re a chronic dasher when it comes time to stretch post-WOD, here are some functional movements I want you to perform in order to help your body stay mobile.

But first, here’s the nitty:

  • How to do these: Do each of the following movements for 1 minute each. Use this routine as a warm-up, cool down, when you roll outta bed, when you are getting ready for bed… literally anytime.
  • How long they take: 5 minutes per round — complete as many as you’d like!  If you ain’t got 5 minutes to spare a day, I don’t believe you and you’re a liar.
  • What you’ll need: Nothing! Just your breath and your body.

Spinal Rolls

Think about your spine in segments: cervical (7 vertebrae at the top of your spine), thoracic (12 vertebrae in your mid-back), and lumbar (5 vertebrae at your low back). As you roll forward, think about moving each part of your spine one vertebrae at a time.

Table Top Reachers

Your poor little lats are probably screaming for you to do these more. Think about karate chopping your hand to the opposite corner and dig the side of your pinky into the ground.

Shinbox Switches

Shinboxes are an excellent mobility flow for your hips because they work both internal and external rotation. If you find that your back is rounding and your core is crunching while performing this movement, place your hands behind you on the ground to help stay tall.

Thoracic Contraction and Opening

From a standing or kneeling position, take the backs of your hands together and round your spine like Cat Pose. Then twist open to each side, keeping your hips square forward.

Downward Dog Knee Taps

Say hello to posterior chain opening and core work. This dynamic circuit will get your hammies nice and stretched and your core activated. Lifting one leg in Downward Dog allows the opposite hamstring to open further. You’ll tap your knee to the same side tricep, your nose or chest, and then to the opposite tricep twisting under to target the obliques.

Alas, mobility is not a one-and-done job — it’s ongoing. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Dedicating 5 minutes a day to mobility-minded movements will help create your mind-muscle connection, prevent injury, and begin to address muscular imbalances. 

Ready, go.

P.S. If you are hungry for more, check out The Mobile Athlete on Instagram and get stretchin’.

Coaches Corner with Hroch: 2019 in review plus 2020 #goals

And just like that, 2019 has come and gone! It’s crazy how fast this last year went. I know it’s corny to say, but time really does fly by. The days are long, but the years are short. Do you need another saying or do you get it? I could go on.

Looking Back

If I had to sum up 2019 for CrossFit Renew in a single word I would say… graduation. Over the last few years we’ve graduated from a non-profit/hobby gym to a professional fitness and wellness facility. And 2019 was our first full year in the new space! We graduated a shed in the back of a church to a real gym that fits more than 8 barbells on the floor. We graduated from 30 members to 130 — bringing on a whole heap of new folks from all parts of Austin. We graduated from dabbling in nutrition to offering to a full-fledged program with a real coach and proven system. We bought assault bikes! We survived two Opens! We did a glow up, as the youths say.

But with graduation comes growth. And often growth can look like change that we don’t always like. This year, Evan Taylor had to learn what it was like to live without shins; we said goodbye to Coach Russ (aka The Shirtless Dude, aka Love Muscle, aka Rustle) as he had to wrap his tenured time with us after moving to Canada; and we killed our little baby Monster Mash due to CFHQ being a cluster. 

And yet, I know 2020 is going to be our best year ever. I can clearly see it. As Dr. Seuss says, “Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”

We have some fun stuff coming up in the new year — some Renew classics and some super exciting new things. Monster Mash will get a rebrand in the Spring (think March Madness meets CrossFit), we’ll be expanding our wellness initiatives to include some top secret but super worth it services, and we’re gonna get focused on some new specialty series/workshops. But to kick things off, we’re hosting our annual Bring a Friend week January 6-10th (and if you don’t have friends, Bring A Stranger Week works too). So mark your calendars and invite everyone you know to come hang with us. 

Looking Ahead

As you reflect on 2019 and start discussing the changes you want to see for yourself in 2020 — consider us. Renew is more than a fitness museum, it’s a place full of people who genuinely care about you. About your fitness, yeah, but also about your wellness, your happiness, your goals. And one of the ways we coaches try to serve you guys is sitting down with you to learn about and review those goals; to see where and how we can step in to help keep you accountable. 

These goal review sessions can be as short or as long as you want, but at the end of it, we’ll identify — together — your fitness and wellness goals for the year, and establish the first (at least) step to how you’re gonna get there. Sometimes we just need to say our goals out loud to somebody, but sometimes we need a little more accountability. And that’s why we’re here. 

So, to encourage you guys to participate in these goal review sessions (because honestly how cool would it be if we ALL came together in the pursuit of betterness?) how about a little incentive? Sign up and sit down for a goal review session before January 31st, and we’ll enter your name in a hat for $150 to the athletic apparel spot of your choosing. You can sign up for those here. If you do not sign up for a goal review session, prepare to be harrassed. 

As Coach Brett says, “Get your mind right.” And as Coach Sadie says, “Let’s kick 2020’s ass.”

Member Spotlight: Scott Ogden

For a good, funny time, call Scott. 

Q: Why did you decide to get into CrossFit? 

A: Two reasons: I got divorced earlier this year and have needed a self-esteem bump. Improving my outward appearance seemed like a quick shot in the arm, so here we are. 

The second is that I recently moved to Austin and wanted to make friends. Gerry kept on and on about how great you guys were, so I figured I’d give you a shot. So, if you haven’t met me yet, come on over and give me a howdy during a workout. We can hang out and I’ll bake you things.

Q: Do you feel like your life has improved since joining Renew? 

A: Yes, I feel like my life has improved. I have more muscles and I get to spend quality time with the people I love before I go home for the day.

Q: What is the most useless talent you have? 

A: I am fluent in Japanese. It’s actually an extremely useful talent, but I never use it, so it’s completely useless to me.

Q: What is the dumbest way you’ve been injured? 

A: When I worked at Cold Stone Creamery in high school, I slipped and fell and passed out because I banged my elbow real hard. I guess I hit my head when I passed out, so they left me waiting strapped to a board for 5 hours in the ER before they saw me for 5 minutes and said I was good to go. It wasn’t dumb because I did something dumb, it was dumb how quickly it escalated. 

Q: What is the most ridiculous purchase you have made to date? 

A: A timeshare. Not even once, man.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you buy a timeshare. Never the mind, because if you’re on the market for a new friend or personal baker, Scott’s your guy. We’re sure glad Gerry pressured you into joining, Scott! You’re a joy to be around. 

And you may never leave. 

Refuel Recipe: Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome back to Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

If you are just now tuning in with us, this month we’re obsessed with oats. A super versatile, super-good-for-you source of fiber and carbohydrates, oats should be a pantry staple. And hopefully, after this month, we’ve convinced you of that! Before you dive into our final oat-centric recipe, look back at our first oat recipe to learn about the many amazing benefits of incorporating oats into your diet!

Our final oat-centric recipe is just as prep-friendly as the previous three, warm and cozy on a cold morning and gives us one more reason to swoon over the Instant Pot. This recipe is adapted from Skinnytaste

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

Serving size: 1 cup of prepared oatmeal plus toppings | Number of servings: 8-10

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 235 | Fat – 3g | Carbs – 50g | Protein – 7g

Prep time: 5m | Cook time: 20m

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups steel cut oats
  • 12 cups water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 5 tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
  • Toppings for or serving:
    • ½ banana (sliced, mashed, whatever suits you)
    • Milk of choice 
    • Ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Combine the oats and water in the bowl of your pressure cooker and stir.
  2. Add cinnamon sticks, cover and cook for 6 minutes on high pressure.
  3. Allow pressure to release naturally.
  4. Remove cinnamon sticks and discard.
  5. Stir in blueberries and honey or maple syrup.
  6. To prep for a week of glorious breakfasts, portion out 1 cup of oatmeal into each plastic or glass container.
  7. To reheat, microwave for 2-3 minutes, until warm then add toppings.

Refuel Recipe: Oatmeal Energy Balls

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome back to Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

In case you missed it, this month we’re highlighting oats! This versatile little carbohydrate packs a big fiber punch and comes in many shapes and sizes. Before you dive into our third oat-centric recipe, look back at our first oat recipe to learn about the many amazing benefits of incorporating oats into your diet!

Our third oat-centric recipe is just as preppable as the previous two, super kiddo-friendly and might even feel like a sweet treat! This recipe is adapted from The Healthy Maven.

Oatmeal Energy Balls

Serving size: 1 ball | Number of servings: 20

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 88 | Fat – 4.5g | Carbs – 9g | Protein – 4g

Prep time: 20m | Cook time: None! Just pop’em in the fridge

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups quaker oats
  • ½ cup scoop protein powder
  • 4 tbsp milk of your choice (nutrition facts for original almond milk)
  • ½ cup natural smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp natural honey
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup 70% dark chocolate chunks
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Add oats, protein powder, cinnamon and chia seeds to a large bowl.
  2. Add in peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in chocolate chunks. Mixture should be slightly sticky but still crumbly.
  4. Slowly add 1 Tbsp of liquid at a time and using your hands (don’t be afraid) combine until mixture comes together in a sticky ball that holds together. 
  5. Roll into balls 1-1 ½ inches in diameter using hands and and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Let sit in fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy all week!

PNF Stretching: What it is and why it matters

What it is

Simply put: “PNF” stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, and is implemented as a way to utilize the neuromuscular system to bring about a relaxation response in targeted muscle groups. It’s a much more efficient form of stretching, as it allows for going deeper into a stretch than you could typically achieve with 20-60 seconds of a simple passive stretch. In fact, PNF stretching has been found to increase flexibility of your targeted muscles, and increase the range of motion of the related joints. 

The increased stretch response is thought to arise from a combination of autogenic inhibition (decreased excitability of the muscle fibers due to inhibitory signals), reciprocal inhibition (which occurs in the targeted muscle when the opposing muscle is contracted), stress relaxation (the muscle tendon unit gradually elongates as a stretch is held for time), and gate control theory (when pain and pressure are sensed simultaneously, the sensation of pressure overwhelms the sensation of pain, causing the Golgi tendon organ sensors to decrease their inhibition of muscle lengthening).

How to apply it

PNF stretching involves alternating strong contraction of the muscle being targeted for stretching, followed by relaxing deeply into the stretch. When performed prior to strength exercise, PNF and static stretches have been found to have a temporary effect of decreasing performance of strength training, sprinting, plyometrics, and other high intensity exercises. For that reason, active range of motion is considered a better warm-up than static or PNF stretching prior to exercise. However, when performed after exercise, static and PNF stretching have beneficial effects, such as enhancing performance, decreasing risk of injury, and improving range of motion and function following an injury.

A common protocol is to apply a near maximal contraction for six seconds, followed by relaxation into the stretch for ten seconds — repeating the sequence for four total sets. 

For example, to stretch the hamstring muscle group, one can lie supine and reach one leg up toward the ceiling. A partner can hold the back of the heel to provide isometric resistance. Keeping the knee straight and the pelvis stable, press the heel into the resistance of the partner’s hand for six seconds. Apply near maximal force; be sure to continue breathing. Then relax into the stretch for ten seconds, while the partner applies gentle pressure to assist further stretching of the hamstring muscles. Repeat three more times.

If you do not have a partner available to assist, you can do the same thing with a stretching strap. Holding the ends of the strap, and with the strap around the bottom of the foot, press your heel downwards against the resistance of the strap for six seconds, and then pull the ends of the strap for ten seconds while relaxing deeper into the stretch.

This approach could be applied to stretching almost any muscle group. For another example, while doing a standing quadriceps stretch, you can press the top of your foot into your hand for six seconds, and then pull the foot higher into the stretch for ten seconds. Again, repeat three more times.

PNF stretching can be added to your post-exercise routine on occasion to help loosen up particularly tight muscles. As a regular daily practice, active range of motion warm-up movements, foam rolling before and/or after exercise, and passive stretching post-exercise will help you be more mobile, with reduced risk of chronic pain and overuse injuries

Something to note: It is important to listen to your body to avoid overstretching. A slight discomfort in the stretching muscle is normal, but discontinue or reduce the degree of the stretch if any sharp pain is felt in the stretching muscle or adjacent joints.

Paul Kevin Smith has a M.Ed. degree in Kinesiology from U.T. Austin, and is an Adjunct Professor of Exercise Science at Austin Community College. He has several certifications in Exercise Physiology, Yoga, and Pilates, and is an authorized practitioner of the Functional Movement Screen. Contact him via www.paulkevinsmith.com, or Instagram at @pksmithatx.

References:

  • American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2018.
  • Hindle, Kayla B., Tyler J. Whitcomb, Wyatt O. Briggs, and Junggi Hong: “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): Its Mechanisms and Effects on Range of Motion and Muscular Function.” Journal of Human Kinetics. 2012 March; 31: 105-113.

Refuel Recipe: Overnight Oats

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome back to Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

In case you missed it, this month we’re highlighting: oats! This versatile little carbohydrate packs a big fiber punch and comes in many shapes and sizes. Before you dive into our second oat-centric recipe, look back at our first oat post to learn about the many amazing benefits of incorporating oats into your diet!

Our second oat-centric recipe is low-prep and high reward! This recipe is adapted from Healthy Steps Nutrition

Overnight Oats

Serving size: ¼ cup dry oats | Number of servings: 1

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 278 | Fat – 6g | Carbs – 44g | Protein – 15g

Prep time: 5m | “Cook time”: Overnight (8-12 hours)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup quaker oats
  • ½ cup milk of your choice (nutrition facts for original almond milk)
  • ½ banana
  • ½ tsp chia seeds
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder
  • Optional toppings to taste:
    • Nuts and seeds (add after)
    • Nut butter
    • Shredded coconut
    • Literally anything that sounds good

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl or jar and stir
  2. Cover and refrigerate overnight
  3. Grab, go and enjoy! 

How to Holiday: 7 tips to staying on track this holiday season

The holiday season is one hand-traced finger feathered turkey away from being in full swing and we would be remiss not to acknowledge that while a joyous time — the holidays can be stressful, y’all. Kids are out of school, family is in town or we’re heading out of it, holiday treats and libations are around every corner, and there’s this weird cultural pressure to constantly indulge because “it’s the holidays!” 

What if on January 1st you could look back at the previous 6 weeks feeling that you fully celebrated the season, loved those around you well and intentionally cared for yourself in the midst of the holiday craziness? It’s not too good to be true. Here are 7 tips to help you not just get through, but totally slay the holiday season ahead! 

Have a workout plan (or don’t!). 

Our bodies go through the ringer during the holiday season — especially if long-distance travel is thrown into the mix. If you’re the type of person that just feels better when you move — make a plan! Take a few minutes before the hullabaloo begins and map out some days where you can get your body moving. 

Maybe a long walk around the ‘hood with your pups and your pops, or find a nearby gym with a free trial, or maybe scope some options to drop in to a local CrossFit gym for some community-away-from-community. Or, if your body needs it, just plan to take the week off. But being intentional about it will help squelch any feelings of guilt or FOMO and help you fully enjoy the seasons!

Pack those snacks. 

Trying to stay on track with your fitness and nutrition goals while traveling can feel like such an impossible task — airport food doesn’t exactly lend itself to be the most nutritious. So make one extra trip to the store before you take off and stock up on your favorite nutrient-dense snacks! TSA can take our water bottles, but they can never take our meat sticks.

Need snack hacks and ideas? Check out this graphic from Precision Nutrition and never be afraid of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season again!

Give yourself a hand (and a break).

Let’s be honest here, tracking macros and counting calories are two fast ways to make your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners a bit miserable. We hate to break it to you — but there’s no way you’re going to be able to account for all the butter Aunt Jane uses in her famous mashed potatoes — so why stress? Instead, try the “hand measurement” method when figuring how much of what should be on your plate. Once again, Precision Nutrition is going to help us out with this one. Check out their handy portion control guide. Two thumbs way up.

Keep your head in the game.

Similarly, we encourage you to be mindful while you munch. If you know yourself, and know you have a tendency to overeat and you go to sleep miserable — pair the hand portion trick with a gut check. As you go in for seconds, ask yourself: “am I actually still hungry, or am I just feeding a craving?” 

And if you think you’re still hungry, would you go in for seconds for, say, baked salmon and kale? Allowing our brains to catch up to our stomachs helps us build better eating habits and food associations for life! 

Contribute a healthy dish.

If you’re walking into a holiday potluck or heading to your in-law’s house for Christmas dinner, and you find yourself leery to eat some of those Crockpot creations — contribute a healthy dish! A big colorful chopped-salad. A festive mocktail. Or maybe even some carrot fries with bacon and rosemary?! The only way to solve your problem is to be the solution!

Have someone in your corner.

And finally, find a freaking friend. If you’re truly nervous about steering too far off track, keep in touch with someone who knows your goals and can help encourage you from afar (or have them come over and enjoy the festivities with you!). You don’t have to go into it on your own, and you certainly don’t have to be miserable. 

Now go celebrate this good season with great food and fun times. Happy holidays!