Balance – not  a word I generally use. I’m all or nothing, blast or dust and I despise half measures, sub-optimality. The notion that what I’m doing, whether it be work or play, is not the absolute best it could be goes against my grain and I can’t do it for long.

This affects my life in a big way.


Being all or nothing means you have your attention on one goal, blinkered vision pointed to the horizon. You disregard other aspects of life in the sole pursuit of the goal you’ve set and sometimes its easy to get lost too far down the rabbit hole, lose sight of what’s truly important.

This article is of a somewhat different ilk to my normal writing and the recommendations that follow may surprise some. I’ve chosen to write this and post it now as I believe this to be the elephant in the room, so to speak, for many fitness enthusiasts. Particularly at this time of year.

You may be reading this expecting a tip, hack and a workaround?

Not this time.

Christmas is defined as many as a time of festivities, friendship and family. A time to relax, enjoy time out of your regular routine and appreciate what you have. There are obvious other sides to Christmas but for me, the above are what most people tend to seek to experience.

Christmas is also a time of excess, over indulgence and social pressure.


You’re not drinking?! It’s Christmas eve!!


Ring any bells?


Perhaps it doesn’t, perhaps you’ve already mastered this balancing act and know when to loosen the reigns. However, most in the pursuit of a better physique or better performance will know all too well the paradox of ‘real life’ and social pressures to indulge. I’ve always thought that life, lived as prescribed, will leave you fat, diabetic and dead sooner than you’d expect, to live a healthful, performance orientated life you have to resign to the salmon swimming upstream, the anomaly in the crowd.

Now I’m not dismissing goals of this nature, I find nothing more impressive and admirable than someone who is willing to fight their own battles regardless of what others say and think. I usually find that people who devote themselves to the pursuit of physical improvement develop a suite of positive habits and an all round resiliance to adversity.

This said, these goals and their required action should be placed in context.

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” Tyler Durden

This quote has always resonated with me, got me thinking – what defines me?

How important is your bench press, your body fat percentage, your abs?

I can tell you that if you’re staying at home weighing your next days food over seeing friends because ‘alcohol doesn’t fit my macros brah’ you’ve got it wrong.

Becoming a calorie obsessed, training dominated recluse isn’t hardcore – it’s pathetic.


You likely started out on this path to prove yourself in some regard, maybe improve your social status, impress the opposite sex or battle insecurity – regardless of what you may think I’d wager you fall in or around one of the above. If so, what a paradox that what you started in order to seek improvement has got you locked behind closed doors so you can preserve the way you look – vanity at its worst? Perhaps. 

These constraints you operate under are your own, no one else’s. True friends and family don’t care about how much you squat or whether your abs are sharp, they value your personality, your opinions, your sense of humour – its easy to become absorbed in only how you look when in fact we’re so much more than this.

My advice? Don’t let your physical goals always determine what you do, let your hair down on occasion and place value on your friends and family – they matter more than what you see in the mirror, one day you’ll succumb to age, gravity, and one day what you look like won’t matter, you’ll be the product of your personality and rely on those close to you, not the weight room. These goals we have can be important but never as important as relationships.

If a night out with friends means you miss a training session, it doesn’t matter – you’ll make it up. If on Christmas Day you deviate from your plan – don’t stress, you won’t be doing this all the time, it’s in your nature to get back on track as soon as you can – enjoy the moment and concern yourself with those close to you, not your protein intake.

I do want to make one clarification here before this becomes a justification to give up on diet and training until the new year.

Over the next 2-3 weeks, I intend to hit all my planned training and I also intend to maintain my average weight.

These things ARE still important to me.

I’m simply emphasising that this time of year serves as a reminder to put things in context.

If you screw up your calories a few times, don’t sweat it, just get back on track when you can.

If you miss the odd session, no big deal, get in what you can and make sure you don’t let training ruin your Christmas.

Despite popular belief, it’s not that difficult to manage a sensible (realistic) approach to diet and training while still enjoying Xmas as normal.

Training, diet and all that goes with it is a fantastic way of life. I spend a good bit of my time around it. That said, it needs context and should be an enhancement to your sails, not your rudder.

What we all do is ultimately a selfish pursuit – treat accordingly.







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3 responses to “A Christmas message to the fitness enthusiast

  1. Well said Jonny, it’s refreshing to hear this from a fitness professional – for a change :-)

    Have a great Chrsitmas and thanks for all the brilliant advice the last few months!

  2. I remember cutting over Christmas a couple of years back and it was awful, i constantly thought about how many calories were in my christmas dinner and puddings etc but devoured the lot anyway making me feel uncomfortable and full then 10 pounds heavier the next day. I think balance is key here and not over indulging or missing out on special occasions. I could go on for days but i’ll cut it short….awesome article, you always talk a lot of sense!

    1. Cheers Henry – we’ve definitely been there, dragged between indulgence and guilt. Hope you find the balance point this year!

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