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Back on the Grind


You did it. You survived the holidays.

Now it’s time to get back on a scheduled routine of training and eating to balance out the time off and dietary slip-ups that we all go through this time of year.

But what’s the best approach? A 24- or 48-hour fast followed by a 30-day strict Paleo diet reset? Maybe trying to hammer out 20-plus December WODs? Ease back into a scheduled routine and eliminate bad food choices one at a time until you can kickstart your normal diet and training cycle again?

I don’t have a quick fix that will work for everyone, but my approach has always been the same. I try each year from mid-November through the first part of January (aka holiday overload season) to stay on target with my training. I’ve always done my best to average 16 WODs a month since I started in 2010. I figure four days a week with a break in the middle is the best for someone with my schedule and at my age. Obviously there are months where I have too much going on or I get sick or am out of town or something is hurt and I might only knock out 10 to 12 workouts. Some months (summer mostly), I will do as many as 20 to 22. The point is that, during this time of year, with extra days off from work and facing travel and family gatherings, I try my best to stay as close to my target number of workouts as possible.

The best way to do that is to have a calendar. In November and December, I will go through with a pen and actually count out and mark down the days that I am planning on training. This helps me see if I need to try to find a Saturday or Sunday when I can try to catch up and keep my workout numbers where I want them to be. This way, if I miss a day or two because I’m gone or the box is closed, I can try to not fall too far behind.

I’d love to give you all the fairy-tale version of this, where I make it through the entire time and only eat the right foods and turn up my nose at carbs and candy and desserts. But that’s not reality for me. I’m weak (apply all forms of that term), and I cave around Thanksgiving pumpkin pies and Christmas-stocking candy. I will say that I don’t drink much at all, so alcohol is not a problem for me to avoid in terms of things I slip up on. But sweets and grains are definitely a battle for me. Christmas cookies are a favorite of mine, and I’m not saying that it’s the end of your CrossFit experience if you have some. Along with some well-timed fudge indulgences and candy canes, if you don’t go overboard and limit the number of days you give in to bad eating, the impact won’t be too detrimental.

Problems can arise when the mindset slips into one where grinders think “Well, I’m going to eat poorly next Tuesday anyway, so why not have this cookie or fudge now?” This can very quickly escalate into a monthlong binge of bad eating and laziness followed by bouts of punishing yourself in the gym.

With most things, the best approach is of course to have a plan. Saying “Let’s just get through the holidays and see how this plays itself out” is really setting yourself up for failure.

For some, travel, with limited availability to CrossFit facilities and equipment, becomes a factor. The motivation to train, along with less-than-ideal weather conditions, might limit or stop some from being able to train entirely.

But with limitations and excuses aside, each of us will have to eventually get back on the grind. Whether you do it by keeping pace through the hustle and bustle of the holidays or if you scrap together some training here and there until the holiday dust settles and you can get back on a focused routine by January, at some point you’ll hear that familiar “3, 2, 1 … Go.”

What do you do to keep it together during the holiday season? How are your diet and training schedules affected? Share your stories and strategies with me at jtolgrinder @

Stay on the grind.

— Jamie Toland (JTol)