It’s the most wonderful time of year! The holidays around my house are a big deal and something we look forward to with each passing month. Spending quality time with friends and family, enjoying the cooler temps, and embracing the holiday spirit are all things we hold dear. In the midst of soaking up these memories in the making, it’s quite easy to fall back on routine though. Things like shooting our bows, working out, and of course diet(a big one), are all things that seem to fall by the wayside this time of year. While it’s quite normal for this to happen, it doesn’t mean we should just disregard the positive habits we’ve created before the stockings get hung up. I’m not saying to deny diving into some apple pie when given the chance, or sacrifice time with family to go to the archery range, but I am saying we can strike a balance between it all.

Maintaining Diet

Diet very well may be the biggest thing we fall short on during the holidays. Let’s NOT go on a diet during this time, let’s maintain a good one. We’re not trying to lose weight right now. With all of the yummy food almost constantly being in front of us, it’s no easy task turning your nose up to Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. And I’m not going to suggest that you do turn down those cookies. Yeah, I said it. Enjoy life and enjoy the holidays. Plus, we don’t want to upset Grandma… What I am saying is the other 95% of the day, eat well. Don’t eat pie on and off all day, just because it’s easily accessible right there on the counter. That’s another reason why we fall into these holiday habits. The goodies are so readily accessible and take no effort at all to consume. So, why not make up some more health conscious snacks and meals that are just as readily available? Snacks like homemade jerky or oatmeal bars work great for on the go living. Then of course, there is meal prepping. One of the meals I enjoy meal prepping the most is taco bowls. Seasoned ground game meat with veggies, avocado, and plain Greek yogurt. I often won’t even warm this up when grabbing it to eat the next day out of the fridge. It’s just as quick as the holiday sweets, but better for you.

Oatmeal Bar Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan (or other) salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs (or egg replacer like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (regular, almond, soy, etc.)  
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla 

Optional Add Ins:

  • 1/2 cup nut butter or chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit (like raisins)
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees 
  • Oil an 8×8 or 7×11 baking dish
  • Mix dry ingredients together
  • Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl 
  • Combine ingredients and stir thoroughly 
  • Pour into the baking dish and smooth until even
  • Place in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes, until fully cooked in the middle
  • Makes 8 larger meal bars or 16 smaller snack bars.

Maintaining Fitness

Life seems to get busier every year. During the holidays, that busy life gets even busier with shopping, cooking, and family get togethers. This makes improving the fitness we’ve built all year even harder. So, let’s not improve it. Yeah, I said that too! Spending time with family and friends at these times is more important than hitting the gym. Now, just hold on there. Don’t think I’m telling everyone to fall off the wagon. I’m merely saying to simply hold on and enjoy the ride, not be the horse pulling said wagon. Instead of improving our fitness, let’s just maintain it. This will call for less intense/shorter workouts and one can do rips like this at home. Not to mention, you won’t be as gassed and thrashed. Like this, we are still maintaining good habits, while leaving that extra time and energy for holiday goodness. My wife and I recently acquired a workout bike, which I’ve been loving. It doesn’t involve a drive to and from the gym, and I get a good workout in. For this, I’ll do interval training. 1 minute with heavy resistance as hard and fast as I can go, followed by 4 minutes of less resistance and a steady pace. Do this for 20-30 minutes straight. Ready to rock, noodle legs and all.

Shooting Your Bow

If you haven’t caught on yet, there has been a consistent theme throughout this article. The theme is “maintain.” Archery is going to be no exception to that. One of the most important things one can strive for in bowhunting is being able to execute a good shot under stress. That skill is a muscle and needs to be exercised. More precisely, it’s muscle memory we’re going for. By not shooting at all and taking the holidays off, we risk losing the muscle memory we created earlier in the year. I’ve been there and done that, trust me. It’s not fun trying to relearn the old good habits you created, while trying to shake off the new bad ones.

So, instead of hanging the bow up to get decorated in tinsel and bells, pick that sucker up. Just bring 3 arrows out with you though. Head into the yard and strive to shoot 3 perfect arrows. 3 shots executed as perfect as one can make them. After that, head back inside and enjoy the rest of the day. That’s it. That’s all it takes to maintain that muscle memory and keep one driving tacks. If you’re really strapped for time, shoot one arrow. Now, you’ll turn the heat up, because it’s one and done. Just like when out in the field. And of course, include family in these shoots if available, especially if they shoot a bow. This is a great way to spend time together all the while staying sharp for hunting season. Whoever shoots the best gets the last piece of apple pie!

Happy Holidays

After working so hard at fitness, diet, and shooting goals throughout the year, don’t think that all is lost once jingle bells comes on the radio. With a little effort and planning, it’s pretty easy to maintain what you’ve achieved. Down here in Arizona, we are gearing up for archery deer seasons in December and January. It isn’t uncommon for my brother and I to show up to deer camp with a Santa hat. We like to have fun out there, haha. With those coming seasons, staying sharp on all fronts during the holidays has been a regular endeavor in my life, and probably the driving force of achieving the balance we’ve talked about. I realize that not everyone has that opportunity, in terms of hunting seasons, but you do have the opportunity to stay sharp regardless. Once the decorations come down, you’ll be glad that you did. Happy holidays to everyone out there and best of luck in the new year!