The Health Coach’s Guide to Holiday Survival

Woman Athlete Tying Shoes in Winter in Health Coach Holiday Survival Guide Blog Banner

Sleigh This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be BUSY. If your days aren’t already a flurry of activity, then, sure enough, it’s a-comin’! On the one hand, it’s super exciting to have all these fun plans with friends and family to look forward to! On the other hand, many might regard this time of year as stressful, with all the possible disruptions to a healthy routine.

It may seem like the only options are to either put your needs on hold and give in to the holiday hubbub, or opt-out of all festivities completely. Those are definitely not your only options! So how do you stay consistent while still enjoying all the aspects that make this time of year so merry? The Castle Hill Fitness Health Coaches have got your answers for holiday survival. 

On Staying Active

Stay realistic about what you can achieve – don’t set lofty, unattainable goals before the end of the year (or really ever!).

The reality is the holiday season is filled with many temptations and time restraints. Having goals is important, but it’s also important to not set yourself up for disappointment. The goal is to do something versus hitting the “pause” button until after the holidays. Staying active will help keep energy levels up, and your stress levels down. To that end, adjust your workouts as needed! Even if you make your workouts shorter or less frequent, you’ll feel better rather than doing nothing.

Plan ahead for your fitness- with all the shopping and holiday parties, this isn’t the time of year to “wing it”. MAKING time to exercise will help you stick to it far better than hoping your schedule will allow for time. (Our class registration opens up 6 days in advance, so you can plan and book out those exercise classes!)

Health Coach and Personal Trainer Shannon Dolan Pushing the Sled

Find any moment for movement- push an exercise sled or REAL sled, either totally works!

You don’t need to rely on a gym for your exercise needs, either. Obstacles may come in your way of getting to an actual gym, especially when you travel. However, there will always be opportunities for movement throughout your day! Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood with the family to enjoy the holiday lights, running around with the little kiddos in your family, or taking a few minutes in the morning to get your heart rate up with a bodyweight workout or yoga flow. Take whatever moments for movement come along! 

Keeping It Nutritious and Still Delicious

Staying healthy this holiday season doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the tasty delights at the dinner table! Indulge, but just be mindful of portion sizes and stick to healthy options where you can. Crowd out the processed sugars, alcohol, and decadent entrees with as many real, vibrant, and colorful foods and veggies as possible. By loading up on healthier options, you’ll have less room for foods that won’t nourish your body. Take your time eating so you can properly digest, and pay attention to when you feel satisfied – make that your stopping point instead of “absolutely stuffed”. 

Don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation of a party or other event! You should still eat all your meals as normal. Carry healthy snacks in case you get hungry. “The Desserts” are usually the biggest challenge. After dinner, do a little check-in with yourself. Will dessert make you sick to your stomach, crash in energy, or make it harder to function the next day? Then do “future you” a favor and pass on the sweets. If you do decide to go for the dessert, just stick to one or two and enjoy them! Maybe even split it with another friend who wants to try the same things. It can be easy to get carried away when all that party food looks SO GOOD, but it helps to remember the discomfort that can follow after you ingest too much. 

Stay Hydrated

Drink your water. Ideally, you’re aiming for half your body weight in ounces daily. Start the day with about 16-20 ounces, have a large glass thirty minutes before each meal, and before you head off to a party. Staying hydrated will help to keep feelings of hunger at bay. It’s easy to think you’re starving or over-drink those cocktails when you’re dehydrated. Try alternating festive beverages with a glass of water. 

Electrolytes are your best friends! These are the electrically-charged minerals found in your blood, sweat, and urine and are vital for maintaining your hydration and body functioning. Electrolyte imbalances can have negative health consequences, so maintaining proper hydration for healthy electrolyte levels is important – especially when you’re traveling, as that is tremendously dehydrating. Keep plenty of water on hand, and electrolyte tablets like Nuun are helpful! If you don’t have electrolyte tablets, then simply adding some sea salt to lemon water can do the trick. This allows your body to absorb the water you intake (and leaves you less “puffy” after travel). 

Breathe. Relax. Have Fun!

It’s just as important to stay consistent with your mental care as it is with your physical body! 

Remember that you are allowed to take a break and slow down. No matter how busy you are, you don’t have to tirelessly power through. No one wants to run you into the ground or for you to feel like anything less than stellar. Therefore, it is your every right to take the time needed in order to refresh. Like we exercise in intervals (working hard for a short amount of time, then resting), we should program our minds to do the same. Taking a break gives you a chance to regroup your thoughts, be ready for the next task, and keep your stress levels at bay. In addition, don’t skimp on sleep – make sure you get the recommended 7-9 hours. Getting the right amount of sleep will keep you functioning at your highest level. Wind down before bed with a book or a bath (or both!), and enjoy a cozy, restorative rest. 

Above all, remember this: the holidays are about having fun and enjoying yourself

Stress Free Holiday with Friends

This season is more than food and drinks – it’s a time for family, friends, and fellowship. The holidays can be stressful, but focusing on being present, mindful, and appreciative will allow you to enjoy this time of year. Follow these simple tips from our Health Coaches, and you’ll stay merry all month long! 

Need a little extra stress relief to get through this season? Check out our previous articles on managing holiday stress:

10 Weekend Activities to Manage Stress this Season

Stress Reducing Tips for the Holidays 


Shannon Dolan Personal Trainer and Health Coach

Shannon Dolan

Shannon Dolan holds a degree in Nutrition from University of Delaware where she minored in Strength and Conditioning and Art. Since graduating in 2012 she has been a personal trainer diving into all aspects of health and wellness with a variety of clients, from those recovering from stroke to youth athletes. As a believer in a variety of fitness activities, daily meditation, and proper nutrition, Shannon makes it a point to help her clients find their journey to a healthy lifestyle while having fun with the process! 

Click here to connect with Shannon and to schedule a free 30-minute Health Coaching Consult! 


Elite Personal Trainer and Health Coach Tara Penawell

Tara Penawell

Tara has an extensive background in the health and fitness industry, with over sixteen years working as a personal trainer. Due to her education, experience, and dedication to acquiring new skills, she is qualified to serve a wide range of clients and enjoys the diversity of working with people with different goals and backgrounds. Tara believes in a habit-based, holistic approach to health and wellness. She has successfully helped many clients meet their goals to lose weight, improve their health, feel great in their clothes, and age gracefully. Above all, she is passionate about helping her clients meet their goals and find the joy and satisfaction that comes along with their success. 

Click here to connect with Tara and to schedule a free 30-minute Health Coaching Consult! 


Sherri Lepley Personal Trainer and Health Coach Black and White Photo Sherri Lepley

Sherri began her career as an anesthesia technician in New Orleans. She got her Personal Trainer and Nutrition certification in 1999 after coworkers would often ask her for advice on their own wellness routines. Her life goal is to share, educate, and guide others. Sherri’s approach is holistic and tailored to the individual’s needs. She consistently works to expand her knowledge so she may continue empowering her clients to achieve optimal fitness and wellness. 

Click here to connect with Sherri and to schedule a free 30-minute Health Coaching Consult!



Laurie Rourke-Korpi Personal Trainer and Health Coach

Laurie-Rourke Korpi

A competitive swimmer since childhood until freshman year of college at Illinois State, Laurie earned her Bachelor of Science in Fitness in 1992 and has been training since then. She loves making people feel better by showing them they are strong and have the endurance to get them through their lives. She aims to make her group classes and private sessions nurturing and to support others’ self-care.

Click here to connect with Laurie and to schedule a free 30-minute Health Coaching Consult!


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