As a coach I have mixed feelings about the month of January. On the one hand, business definitely picks up as people decide that this is “the year they get serious” and sign up for coaching.

On the other hand, it’s a very tricky time of year as even smart, experienced, long term clients can, depending on their level of indulgence, fall victim to “post holiday bloat so I better slash my calories and crush the cardio” syndrome.

(You can look that up, it’s a real thing).

I instruct most to not track over the Christmas break, mainly because it’s impractical and can even cause more harm than good.

It’s also not necessary. If someone is in a good training-eating-sleeping pattern leading up to Christmas (and they’re in decent shape), most of the “fast fat” they put on over the holidays will quickly drop when they resume their previous routine. No need to cram or pay the proverbial piper.

Dropping the diet hammer just causes even greater stress and leaves less room to make adjustments down the road, when the original plan eventually stops working. And it always stops working.

It can also result in associating the holidays and family with fat gain or just feeling like a slob. Not exactly a place I want clients under my care to be, though some have been there for years and ain’t leaving. I get it. Ho ho ho.

So as public service announcement for those in full-court press this January:

1. “Forcing” your body rarely works. You can certainly try (with crazy low calories and long bouts of cardio), but odds are you won’t enjoy the result (exhaustion, foul mood, and a droopy butt).

2. Forgetting about results and instead focusing on the process serves to lower stress — which can SPEED UP fat loss.

3. Moving forward, the less you associate the upcoming holidays with over-eating and gaining fat, the more relaxed you’ll be…… which will reduce the urge to binge and reduce weight gain. You’ll also have more fun. Which is kind of the point of all this.

As I explained to a client, the binge purge cycle is just that — a big cycle. Once you spot it, you can accept it and own it.

Or even have fun with it. I happen to enjoy hopping on the scale after New Years and seeing the scale up 20 pounds, as I know I will be back to pre-holiday condition with just a week or two of normal eating .

So relax. As Wayne Gretzky said, don’t grip the stick too tight.