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Eek! Shopping for mom is so hard! Your brother is getting her a bathrobe and you can’t even. Didn’t you guys already get her that last year? Don’t resort to a spa gift card just yet.

We have 10 extravagant gifts that will make Mom (or any cook who deserves something really extra-special this year) feel like the belle of Christmas morning.

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“Winter is coming”

– House Stark.

Like the White Walkers of the old stories our Gran used to tell us about, winter is descending upon us mere mortals, and we must prepare! This endless onslaught of vicious attacks on our brains and our bellies will leave us ripe for slaughter if we’re not careful. What began as celebrations and a time to ‘bring together’ has been corrupted by evil forces:

Holiday parties tell us to embrace our love of engorging ourselves with so much food our belt buckles burst. Like turkeys being fattened for slaughter, we do the same to ourselves. Eep.

Cold weather that encourages us to sleep in, avoid the elements, and say “maybe tomorrow.” A sun that rises too late and sets too soon means we often go days without seeing the damn thing!

These and more challenges are just begging for us to go off the rails. Like a built-in excuse called January 1st where we promise to “start over” helps us rationalize us acting like an ass until then. Black Friday has come and gone. Cyber Monday is now in the rear view. Thanksgiving is now a distant memory.

And yet…the challenges are still just getting started.

Like the houses divided in Game of Thrones, the White Walkers and the forces of winter in real life will pick us apart one by one while we pretend like everything’s okay.

After all, it’s so much easier to give in, and say “I’ll wait until later” to deal with it.

To all that I have two things to say:

  1. I hear you.
  2. Bring it on.

If you’ve seen The Emperor’s New Groove, you’ll be familiar with this scene. This is how I want you feeling about Winter:

Don’t run in the wrong direction

wrong way

We need you back in the fight, right now.

If you ate like crap last week (thank you Thanksgiving), you probably missed a workout. You have that little guy or gal or demon on your shoulder saying “well now what’s the point? Just wait til January!”

We all see January 1st as the “reset,” and there’s nothing wrong with a reset to start out the year. The problem is when you compound your issues by digging yourself deeper into a hole that you have to eventually climb out of!

Eat very poorly for long enough, and the hole will start to resemble Bruce Wayne’s prison in The Dark Knight Rises:

Think of it like you’re on the starting line of a race for a healthy life that starts Jan 1st. You have two options:

  • A) Hang around the starting line: Hang out and wait for the gun to fire. Then start running.
  • B) Run in the opposite direction. Run farther away from the starting line, so when the gun goes off you have even FARTHER to run in the race.

So, step 1 is not running in the opposite direction. This means you can’t skip all your workouts and eat like an ass and make yourself unhealthier and just give up til January. This is you going the wrong way, and will make the task of “starting over” on January 1st that much more brutal.

Instead, do what you can to “tread water” and hang out around the starting line. If you CAN, stay on target. One bad meal doesn’t ruin things. One missed workout isn’t the end of the world. If you have an awful day, respawn and get back in the fight. Immediately.

A four-week freefall however, is a hole you don’t want to be in.  You also don’t want to be in THIS hole, but that’s beside the point..

So forget B. Let’s aim for A.

Never Two in a Row

two in arow

I first talked about “Never Two in a Row” back in like 2012, and it’s a mantra I’ve been living by ever since.

You’re human. And life happens.

What CANNOT HAPPEN is missing two days in a row. Or eating TWO bad meals in a row. Or having TWO bad days in a row.

Why? One bad day can feel like a speed bump if you’re trying to get healthy. Get back on track right away and there’s no problem.

However, missing two days in a row is like turning that tiny speed bump into the Misty Mountains. If you miss one day in a row, no problem! Just act like it didn’t happen and get back on track. But once you miss two days in a row, you are now 67.42% more likely to fall into a multiple week hole. Okay, I made up that statistic, but two days very easily becomes three, which very easily becomes a week, which easily becomes “I’ll wait til January.”

That’s running in the wrong direction. Stop it!

So NEVER EVER EVER miss two workouts in a row. If you miss a workout on Monday, go on Tuesday and get right back on track. If you eat a horrible lunch at the office because Kevin brought in pizza, lasagna, garlic bread, and other carb bombs (classic Kev), make your dinner healthy AF. Do that, and you’ll be fine.

So whenever you have a bad day or do something wrong, I need you respawn right away (“start over” in video game lingo) and make the next day the best day you possibly can.

If you’re going to eat like crap, use intermittent fasting and skip meals


Spoiler alert: you’re going to eat like an ass this upcoming month. (Unlike Noel’s delicious Thai Zoodle recipe above)

I know it. You know it. So we can do one of two things.

We can pretend like it’s not going to happen, and then be surprised and beat ourselves up when we put ourselves in a carb coma and calorie-induced bender.

Or we can be smart about it and negate the impact these days have on our waistlines. Better yet, we can make these additional calories work FOR us.

For starters, our metabolisms aren’t that smart. Your weight will fluctuate based on total calories consumed over many many days, not after ONE power-bomb of a meal.

So, if you know you are going to eat a monster lunch and dinner (I see you Christmas), eat a stupidly light breakfast, and a light breakfast tomorrow – the calories will average out in the long run.

Or, if you’re willing to dig in and do the research, SKIP breakfast (and maybe lunch) before your monster meal. It’s called “intermittent fasting,” and it’s what I do to stay on track during weeks when I know I’m going to eat poorly.

First, I skip breakfast every day (I haven’t eaten breakfast in 3+ years). Second, I might choose to skip lunch as well the day after a monster meal. Again, dig in and do the research (or just read this), and you’ll find that missing a meal isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can lead to a healthier lifestyle for the right person.

Make big meals work for you by timing them properly

christmas dinner

Whether or not you take advantage of intermittent fasting, you can time your workouts to coincide with your unhealthy meals.

As I mentioned in our article on building the right kind of physique, think of all the calories you eat as first-year wizards at Hogwarts. They need to be sorted into one of three houses (“Burn as energy,” “store as fat,” or “rebuild muscle.”)

The extra calories you eat over the holidays always go towards “store as fat” unless you give them a really good reason to sit at the “build muscle” table. Politely asking them won’t help.

You need to give them a reason. And that wonderful reason is STRENGTH TRAINING.

When you strength train before a big meal, your muscles you trained are broken down and need to be rebuilt. So, over the next 48+ hours many of those extra calories will be diverted to rebuilding (stronger) muscles instead of becoming fat.

This year I did my heaviest strength training workout just a few hours before my Thanksgiving dinner, and then proceeded to eat like an ass along with everybody around me. While they all lamented “I’m so full, I’m so fat, I ate too much, wahhhh” I knew my calories were being used to rebuild muscle so internally I was doing an evil villain laugh… Muahahahah, you know the one.

Work smarter (like a nerd).

Don’t rely on motivation

Cat Bored and Yawning

Here’s another spoiler for you: you are NOT going to want to work out this month. It’s going to be dark and cold, and your nose is going to run (better catch it!), work is going to suck, you’re going to be hungover, and so on.

The amount of motivation you’ll need to get over these obstacles is gargantuan. So don’t force yourself to try and “dig deep” and just “work harder” and feel guilty when you’re “not motivated.”

So do whatever you can to never, ever ever rely on motivation. Your body won’t say, “oh that’s okay, I’ll not get fat this month because I feel bad for you.” There are 31 days in December just like there are 31 days in August.

Which means you need to stay on track even though it’s much easier to do in the summer. So instead of motivation, build fail-safes to make sure you are staying healthy  Schedule your workouts in your calendar, and set up alerts so you are reminded. Recruit a buddy to work out with you.

Or go with one of these more diabolical examples:

Take a really really embarrassing photo of yourself, or type up a tweet with an embarrassing secret. Schedule it to post at 6:15 (or whatever time is early for you) every morning before you go to bed. Put your phone in the other room. If you don’t wake up on time, and run in the other room and cancel that tweet, it goes out! Better just get out of bed and train before work.

Give your co-worker $250. Tell him/her that you will work out 3 days per week, and text him a photo of you at the gym. If he does not receive that photo, he will donate $50 of your money to a political cause you can’t stand.

Set your credit card alerts to email you and your wife/husband every time it’s used. Agree ahead of time you’ll never use that card to buy fast food or else you’ll have to be on diaper duty for the next 3 months straight (or something that fits your situation).  

In each of the instances above, you’re going to do exactly two things:

  1. Get really mad at yourself. Probably swear a lot. Swear vengeance on your past self.
  2. Do the damn thing you know you need to do while also being mad at yourself.

Never ever ever rely on motivation. Now, motivation doesn’t hurt. It’s just not reliable. So if you are in need of some motivation try this watching this video to remind you that training in the winter makes you a badass:

Just don’t rely on it, or feel guilty when you don’t have it! Whenever you DO feel a burst of motivation, use that extra energy to build systems. Here’s how to use motivation properly.

Have a Plan B for workouts and meals

frozen veggies

“Too cold today! Can’t go to the gym and do my workout, DAMN! Looks like I’ll just have to sit here and eat ice cream.”

“Ran out of groceries, and it’s snowing. I guess I’ll just have to order pizza.”

The problem with winter is that it makes the unhealthy option always the easiest. We’re lazy, and I have to imagine we’re a bit like bears in that we want to hibernate and store fat when it gets cold out.

We have this tiny voice in our head subtly nudging us to pick the path of least resistance: aka pizza and skipped workouts.

And we can’t let that voice win. Then, the white walkers win. And we’re all screwed. So, instead, we’re going to MacGuyver the sh** outta our winter by having a plan B prepared.

For example:

A Workout PLAN B: Have a place in your house or apartment that you can go to and do the Beginner Bodyweight Workout or one of The Nerd Fitness Academy or NF Yoga workouts.  It might not be as great as the gym, but it’s still a workout. It might mean investing in a door frame pull-up bar or a yoga mat, but a small investment for maintaining momentum through the winter is worth any amount of money.

A Nutritional PLAN B: Have a healthy meal in your freezer that has already been prepared and ready to be heated up. We make horrible decisions when the fridge is empty and we’re hungry. The Sirens of Dominos and Pizza Hut beckon us to call them for a 30-minute delivery.

So use your own laziness to help! Have a meal in your freezer that’s already to go. Store steam fresh veggies for emergencies. And delete any fast food or delivery numbers in your phone. Delete the Seamless app from your phone. Avoiding driving by your favorite fast food place. Do what you need to do to make it more difficult to make the wrong choice.  

Know that every little bit counts

inch worm

So you can only train for 15 minutes today instead of 20.

So you have to do a few yoga poses instead of going to the gym for an hour.

So your ONLY option at the holiday party is pizza and you didn’t have a great breakfast.


Every little bit counts. It REALLY, REALLY does. Every small change, or even only eating like an ass HALF of the time is FAR better than eating like an ass all of the time. Drink ONE extra water than a beer, and it’s a victory that will translate to your waistline. Do 5 push-ups as soon as you get out of bed, and it’s a victory.

Winter is such a problem not because people make one bad mistake, but because one bad mistake quickly sets off a chain reaction of disasters and idiocy justified by the fact they can’t do something 100%. So they opt for 0%.

If you don’t have time for a full workout, do half a workout! If you have to eat drive through food, drinking a water or diet coke is still better than the alternative!

If you go to a holiday party, you can still drink (Here’s our “healthy drinking guide”) and eat poorly, just swap out some eggnog for water every once and awhile. Your future fit self thanks you.

Try this:

Every morning when you wake up, do 20 bodyweight squats, 10 push-ups, and if you have access to a pull-up bar (or gymnastic rings), hang from them for 30 seconds.

Make this the FIRST thing you do every day (using systems built back in point #6). That way, at least every day during the winter you’ve done something.

How Do You Brave the Winters?

Before somebody yells at me in the comments, yes I know a lot of Aussies and Kiwis are NF Rebels, and I know it’s nearly summer down there. You can laugh at us all you want, your winter will come soon enough. Oh, it will.  

Let’s hear from you – what do you do when the going gets tough, when the temperature drops, and life gets busy as hell?

How do you fight back? What are your favorite specific tricks or systems you use to stay on track?

Leave your comment below and share with your fellow Rebels.



Photo: Mark Dumont: Inch Worm, leibolmei: frozen veggies

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(Image credit: Harlow and Grey)

From Apartment Therapy → Yay or Nay: Beautiful Disposable Dishware

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(Image credit: Ambitious Kitchen)

Enchilada sauce is sold in most grocery stores, but with just 10 minutes of your time and a handful of ingredients, you can have a homemade version instead. Go the DIY route and you just might never look back.

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jencomas-couch-faceplant-278x347The holidays are a magical time. For many of us, this time of the year is full of festivities, events, and quality time spent making memories with loved ones.

It’s also a time when our routines get thrown completely out of whack. Many people take time off of work, travel, or are busy hosting relatives visiting from out of town. There are family gatherings, company parties, and celebrations with friends. Somewhere in there, among all the merriment, there’s shopping, house cleaning, gift wrapping, and driving in holiday traffic!

Because of the holiday hustle and bustle, many people decide that it’s too much of a hassle to keep up a workout schedule and be mindful about eating healthy, nourishing foods. With so much on the to-do list, they may throw in the towel during those last six weeks of the year and indulge to their heart’s desire, vowing to get back to their routine again come January.

Sane, sustainable, and efficient!

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training helps you achieve maximum results, whether you’re new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.

While taking a few weeks off from your healthy eating and exercise routine may not take a huge toll on your strength or physique, there is something far more important at stake with an extended hiatus: those healthy habits that you’ve worked so hard to develop.

Anyone who has put in the work to form healthy habits knows that it isn’t exactly a cinch to get them to stick initially. And once certain healthy behaviors become automated, they can still be relatively fragile, especially the “younger” a habit is. Here’s an example:

jencomas-moab1-350x350I recently took a trip to Moab, Utah, and for four mornings in a row, we got up at 4 a.m. to hike to some incredible spots to catch the sunrise. The first morning, exhausted and hungry, we decided to indulge. We stopped and grabbed a coffee, and a chocolate donut. I don’t particularly love donuts, so they usually aren’t worth it for me, but perhaps because I was sleep deprived (more on this in a moment) that donut tasted incredible to me. So good, in fact, that we got up the next morning for coffee and donuts… and the next, and then the next. Four mornings in a row of gas station coffee, chocolate donuts, and witnessing the beauty of the sun rising over the incredible landscape in Moab.

The morning after we returned home, I found myself craving chocolate donuts with my morning cuppa joe. Even though I’ve been completely happy with meat and vegetables for breakfast for years now, I found myself wanting a donut really badly.

Why the sudden craving for a donut? Four mornings of a rich, sugary treat, combined with the feel-good emotions of witnessing the sunrise with someone I care about had threatened my seemingly concrete healthy habit. Habits become more stable the longer that we engage in the behavior, but they are never completely impervious to change.

Healthy habits, during certain circumstances, may take a bit more awareness and effort to maintain than usual.

The holidays are a great example of one such set of circumstances. When faced with an influx of treats, cocktails, and opportunities to skip out on exercise, it’s important that we do whatever we can to bulletproof the healthy behaviors that we’ve worked so hard to automate.

Here are a few things you can do to keep those healthy habits intact throughout the holiday season and ensure that you sail smoothly into the new year, without the added stress of trying to unravel some newly formed bad habits.

Continue to Exercise

jencomas-gettingreadytosquat-257x375If you typically train four days a week, I encourage you to continue to move your body a few days per week during the holidays. Even if you only have 20 minutes to spare, make sure to get it in. You can get a lot of work done in 20 minutes. Besides, the goal is to ensure that you stay in the groove of moving your body several days a week. Even if you aren’t going to the gym or following your regular training program, get outside and take a brisk walk, go snowshoeing, throw yourself a dance party—just do something that gets you moving.

Remember, when it comes to exercise, any amount of movement is always better than none at all.

Get Some Extra Sleep

Any time that I know my routine is going to be thrown for a loop, the first thing that I do is prioritize more sleep. If I have travel coming up, a deadline, or anything else that I know is going to add stress, I start going to bed earlier a few weeks beforehand.

Getting an adequate amount of high-quality sleep is always incredibly important, but even more so during times like the holidays.

Sleep ensures that you are refreshed and energized, and also boosts willpower. You have probably noticed that when you are tired, sugary treats and junk food are virtually impossible to say no to. With the influx of treats during the holidays, it’s important that you are well-rested.

By providing yourself with a bit of extra sleep, you are less likely to succeed to temptation when surrounded by treats. Many holiday nutrition struggles can be avoided by prioritizing more sleep during the holiday season.

Continue to Stick to Your Nutritional “Big Rocks”

The “Big Rocks”  are the things that make the biggest impact—what will make the biggest difference first. The Small Rocks are the little things that don’t make a huge difference without first taking care of your Big Rocks. For most people, the Big Rocks in nutrition are adequate protein and vegetable intake.

When it comes to holidays, we want you to enjoy yourself! But that also means treating a treat like a treat, and still continuing to eat the foods that nourish your body and make you feel fantastic. For me, this means prioritizing protein and vegetables at every meal, and then indulging in something that is truly worth it, and truly enjoying every delectable bite.

Remember YOU: Self-Care is #1

At Girls Gone Strong, we are huge fans of self-care. Self-care means taking some time for yourself. It can be easy to get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season, and to focus on making sure everybody is taken care of—but remember you. You need some care, too.

friends-having-coffee-450x308Self-care means intentionally making time for yourself to do whatever feels good for you, and that looks different for everybody. Make some time to do something that rejuvenates you and allows you to find some peace. This could be five minutes, or five hours, but it’s important that you continue to take this time for yourself throughout the holidays.

Perhaps it’s a walk, a bath, dancing, having coffee with a friend, or crawling into your bed in the middle of the day and laying there in silence for 20 minutes while you feel how good the clean sheets feel. Whatever makes you feel really good, please continue to do that throughout the holidays. It’s important.

The holidays are a wonderful time, and we want you to enjoy them completely, and relish in every magical moment. But we also understand and respect how much hard work you’ve put into your healthy habits, and we want to help you carry those into the new year.

Remember, prioritizing exercise, healthy food, sleep, and self-care through the holidays has nothing to do with calories!

It’s about protecting those healthy habits that you’ve worked so hard to establish.

family-toasting-thanksgiving-dinner-450x301Coaches Corner

If you are a coach or personal trainer, remember that this time of year is challenging for many people due to a more hectic schedule. Let your client know how great it is that they showed up! A few things to consider:

  • Your client’s stress may be on the higher side due to family obligations. During times of higher stress, it’s a good idea to adjust their workouts accordingly.
  • Food is neither punishment or reward; it’s just food. Rather than encouraging your client “earn” or “burn off” the treats that they enjoyed, help them put that extra fuel toward getting stronger.
  • Provide some workouts that your client can do while traveling or at home with minimal equipment.
  • Consider making yourself available to provide some extra accountability if your client needs it throughout the holiday season. A simple email or text, or quick call can be a great way to help your client stay on track.

At Girls Gone Strong, we want you to feel confident knowing that what you’re doing to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong are not only based on tested, reliable, and safe information from trustworthy sources, but that it is also effective and efficient. That’s why we developed our flagship training system, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training.

We’ve cut through all that noise and the BS with a sane, sustainable, and efficient approach that will help you achieve maximum results, whether you’re brand new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.

With four different 16-week programs—that’s 64 weeks of training—you get over a year’s worth of workouts, including progressions to ensure that you continue making progress. You’ll also get a training manual, exercise glossary, progress tracker, a bonus conditioning manual, plus a video library with over 70 high-definition videos breaking down each exercise, step by step.

We believe fitness should enhance your life instead of become your life. If you exercise in a way that you actually enjoy, staying fit and strong won’t ever feel like a drag. You’ll look forward to it for years to come.

If you want an entire training system that will help you look and feel your best, The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training is for you!

Click to learn more and get started today!

The post Why You Should Continue Training Through The Holidays appeared first on Girls Gone Strong.

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Six Flags is great and all, but it has nothing on this new theme park. If you get weak in the knees at the sight of fresh pasta, and have an affinity for prosciutto, you better get your passports ready. The people behind Eataly, the mega Italian supermarkets around the world, are opening up a 20-acre complex in Bologna that they’re dubbing “Fico Eataly World.”

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There is a method that allows you to change the swing from an energy-burning exercise, to one that builds energy.

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