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The holidays are right around the corner! And for a lot of us that means good food, time with family, and did I mention good food?

I’ve struggled with maintaining my health since college. Going to the gym and running was a lot easier when you had three hour breaks between classes and plenty of free time and daylight to work with! Now that I’m all grown up, working that 9-5, and trying to study for the CPA exam? Definitely not as easy to make time as it used to be. And I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. Add kids, pets, social lives, and the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holidays and suddenly finding time is even more difficult than it already was. Yikes.

This year, I’m tackling my health during the holidays with a much more lenient approach WITHOUT forgoing my actual health and fitness goals. I’m doing this in a few different ways:

First of all: I’m doing my best to stick to a caloric deficit for a minimum of five days a week, with trackless Saturdays. This means that for five days of the week I aim to burn more calories than I consume, while also making sure to eat AT LEAST the minimum recommended for my height/weight. I give myself one day of no-tracking. Now, this doesn’t mean I eat whatever I want and however much of it I want. On these days I try to eat intuitively. I’ll order foods that sound yummy. I’ll eat, but only until I’m comfortable. Once comfortably satiated, I’ll place my silverware over my plate to signal my brain that I’m done eating, and I’ll try to drink a glass of water. I don’t remember where I read this one, but it really helps me from eating more food just for the taste of it even though I know it will make my stomach hurt. If the food makes for good leftovers, I make sure to box it up and store it appropriately. Easy lunch for the next day!

Second: I try really hard to stick to my minimum workouts per week goal that I set at the beginning of each month. For this month since I’m trying to get back into some semblance of a routine, I’m sticking to an “easy” three days per week. I killed it this week! And I’m actually going to try for four, because I’m currently part of Nikki Blackketter’s “Four Weeks to Find Your Happy Challenge”, which is both a mental health and physical fitness challenge. I need to get one more workout in to meet the challenge goals for the week! Joining a challenge really helps me stick to my goals, especially if it’s one I paid for and has fun prizes to win! Scope out Pinterest for a lot of fun free workout challenges, or team up with one of your fave online personal trainers who occasionally host their own! The trainer-hosted ones usually cost money, so expect to fork up a pretty penny for that professional training. But they will offer you a lot of good insight and answer any questions you may have (at least, if they’re good people they will), and some even offer up some pretty fun prizes. I know Nikki is considering hosting more challenges, so make sure to check her out @BlondevsWorld on Twitter.

To make the month even more interesting, my sister and I signed up for the annual Turkey Trot in Cleveland! It’s a total blast, and I highly recommend one if you have them in your area. There’s nothing more rewarding than joining a bunch of crazy runners early on Thanksgiving morning for a 5K/5 mile run! Plus, it makes that delicious Thanksgiving dinner that much more exciting. For my 5K training, I’ve been using the 5K training segment in the fitness app Aaptiv (formerly known as Skyfit, which you can read about in my previous post or check out on your device’s app store!). As I’ve mentioned in the last post, having a prerecorded class with a trainer talking to you along the way really seems to work for me. It keeps me motivated, and helps me push harder than I normally would on my own self-paced workout. I highly recommend giving the app a try if you’re looking to change things up and class-mentality works for you! They have tons of other workout programs also, ranging from cardio like elliptical and rowing machines to strength training and yoga.

The most important thing I tell myself: I’m not letting me beat myself up. I’m going to slip up. It happens. Adopting a healthier lifestyle is hard. I really love wine and food and wine and ice cream and…did I mention wine? So no, it’s not always easy. And maybe there are days I could have done better. But the most beautiful thing in life is forgiveness and I really believe it’s important to forgive yourself for these slip ups and these mistakes. Forming an unhealthy relationship with the lifestyle you’re trying to create and associating that bad mentality to it can be disastrous. I’ve been there, and it doesn’t feel nice. So make sure to really give yourself some slack and reassure yourself that it’s okay to make these changes slowly and over time. Change doesn’t happen in a day! Don’t rush it, take your time, and enjoy the process.

So those are my quick tips! Nothing fancy, nothing special. Super easy to follow. If you’re really struggling with motivation, having an accountability partner would definitely make your cause easier! Reach out to friends and family who may be interested in joining you on your new journey to health. Who knows, maybe that will be just the motivation someone else needs to get started too!

Above all, make sure to really enjoy the holidays. Whether you’re spending them alone or with loved ones, it is a wonderful time of year for reflection on all that happened, how much you accomplished, and planning on what you want to do with the upcoming year. Enjoy each and every day.

What do you do to stay motivated throughout the holidays? What are your go-tos? Let me know in the comments below!

xo, Karli