When I first started at Wilderness Athlete many moons ago, I remember someone posting an “interesting fact” on our Facebook page on Halloween. Something like – “Did you know that one Halloween-sized Snickers is 110 calories? That will take up to 1 hour of running to burn. Think before you snack this season.”

“Thanks for the PSA dude”, I thought to myself.

But it worried me, as someone who loves Snickers and also loves being fit and healthy. I wasn’t worried about the calories or the running, I’m well aware that food contains calories and running burns them. I was more worried that I had just entered a career that would force me to focus on everything I can’t do or shouldn’t eat. I was worried that, as a marketer, I would spend all my time telling people to limit themselves, say no to fun things, be scared of food, never enjoy a good beer and quit eating pie on Christmas.

As the years go on, I’ve made a concerted effort to make sure we’re not that guy. Life isn’t about how few Snickers bars you can eat on Halloween. It’s about how high up the mountain you can hike. It’s not about making sure gluten never passes your lips (unless you’re allergic, then it is…) It’s about making sure you’re going to be around and healthy for your kids, your husband or wife, your grandkids, or maybe your dogs. We don’t eat well and train hard to feel guilty, deprived and stressed all the time. We eat well to feel well and we train hard to feel strong, motivated and powerful.

Our founder, Mark Paulsen has a couple Mark-isms that apply here.

“Everything in moderation, even moderation” – I’ve always liked this one. Yeah, we encourage you to eat clean, get as much exercise as you can and take your dang vitamins. BUT – that doesn’t mean we’re forbidding you from eating a piece of your Grandma’s pie, enjoying a glass of wine (or two) at Christmas dinner, and even (gasp) eating a Snickers bar when you’re out trick-or-treating with your kids.

You’re not going to remember the 300 calories you’ll have to burn later. You’re going to remember the quality time you spent with family and friends, not obsessing about every calorie you consume.

Another Mark-ism: “It’s not about how long you live, it’s about how long you live well” – He says this in regards to staying healthy and eating well and I agree 100%. But sometimes “living well” means really enjoying your Christmas dinner, or filling your plate on Thanksgiving without feeling that pang of guilt.

Now obviously if you struggle with binge eating, don’t exercise or have serious weight to lose, you should stick to your guns. I’m talking to our many customers out there who exercise frequently, eat well most of the time and keep an eye on their overall health.

This Christmas, relax and live a little. Our mission at WA is to help you live the good life. And sometimes, the good life includes pie.

Here are some things that I keep in mind when the holiday season comes around. Hopefully, they can help you too.

1. Next time you indulge in something “bad” for you – really indulge. Taste every bite, stop talking and think about what you’re eating. Basically, don’t eat mindlessly! You’ll feel full faster and your memories of the taste will last longer than the calories take to burn, I promise.

2. Choose things you love, not just things you like. Don’t eat cake just because it’s there. Eat that amazing cake your wife only makes on Christmas Eve that you’ll remember all year.

3. Pay attention to the pleasant feeling of being full and don’t overdo it (or overdo it… it’s really not the end of the world).

4. Practice fasting before your bigger meals. This will decrease the overall calories you consume for the day, and it will make that meal taste that much better. I like to practice intermittent fasting 3-4 days a week, but I’ll be stricter the week before Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, as a way to detox a little and rid myself of any lingering guilt.

5. Train Hard. Yeah yeah, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet” (Another Mark-ism), but you can build more muscle. And the fact is, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when you’re just sitting around. So lift up heavy things and put them down as part of your routine, and then eat a cookie every once and a while.

6. And finally, please… don’t be that guy. If you choose to take my advice on the first five tips, don’t show up to Christmas dinner bragging that you’ve been fasting for 2 days, detoxing for a week, or that you went to Crossfit this morning because you can’t “afford” to take a day off. No one likes that guy.

Merry Christmas

P.S. There’s a rumor around the office that I’m only writing this article because we’re releasing a new 28 Day Challenge on December 27th and I’m just trying to fatten you up. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I’d check our website on December 27th if I were you.

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