The In-Between Notes: Holiday Survival Guide

I started playing drums at 5 or 6 years old and went on to be trained in Jazz, classic percussion, rock, Samba, and on and on… I loved Jazz. After 10 years of playing some iteration of Jazz, I sought out the instruction of a Jazz expert. We did some jamming, after which I expected the typical accolades that I’d grown accustomed to receiving once surprised listeners discovered how young I was. Not this time. He tore me apart. Said it was some of the worst Jazz drumming he had heard. “Why?” I asked. He went on to explain that I had great chops, but I was too focused on the notes I was playing. Jazz, he went on, exists in between the notes you play. The pregnant pause of anticipation, being slightly behind or in front of the beat, the in-between notes.

In the world of fitness, we often focus solely on the hour of training we have. There’s not enough cardio. There’s no barbell in this WOD. I need to go heavier/lighter to reach my goals. I need to work in the 20:00+ zone. I need to _____ more. Blah. Blah. Blah. Why are we so focused on that single hour much more than a lifetime of movement and wellness? Simply put: It feels like the only time we’re in control. We want to control everything. Unfortunately, when it comes to our health we feel like the environment and our circumstances are constantly de-railing us from our goals; we’re losing control.

Take this holiday season to relinquish a little control. Enjoy a couple days outside of the gym. I promise you’ll come back renewed and engaged in your training. Now, with a shift in perspective, here are a few practical tips for survival:

  1. Pig out…Proportionately.

Since the dawn of humanity, there have been times of feast & famine; times of plenty and times of scarcity. The holidays are a time of plenty. Go into your holiday celebrations knowing you’ll eat more than you need…and be OK with it. But, give preference (stuff yourself) to the best quality items on your plate and, with every trip back to the buffet, make sure you keep those proportions. For example, fill ½ your plate with turkey, ham, duck…the main protein, ¼ of it with a veggie or other fibrous green, and ¼ with all the fun stuff – stuffing, yams, potatoes, gravy…anything you want! This will keep you satisfied but not deprived.


For a lot of you, this will be the only time of the year that you treat yourself to a giant slice of pie. Please enjoy it and don’t beat yourself up! You’ve been training hard all year and I promise that a slice of the good stuff won’t erase a year’s worth of hard work. In fact, many studies show that increased levels of sedentary Cortisol caused by feelings of stress, anxiety, and self-deprecation threaten your gains as much, if not more, than that pie.

  1. Don’t lift anything heavier than a lacrosse ball

I know you’ll feel like you need to go jog off some stuffing but, unfortunately, biology operates more like a Roomba than a Magic Eraser. Your consistent efforts in training leading up to and after the holidays will more than account for whatever you eat or your lack of working out. Months of regular strength training will have your metabolism geared up for whatever you throw at it for a couple days of chowing down. So please, enjoy a little recovery time. If you must do something, hop on a lacrosse ball or foam roller and watch some football. My faves can be found here and here.

  1. (Re)connect

Chances are you’ll have a little time off work. Use your time off work and out of the gym to hang out with those folks you see in the gym. You probably won’t recognize them without a sweaty t-shirt, but it’ll be worth it. If you’ve yet to hang out with someone or another couple from the gym, this holiday season is your chance. Make plans & stick to them!

Happy Holidays from all your coaches at CrossFit Memorial Hill!