5 Ways To Make The Most Out Of Your Winter Break

You've been counting down the days to winter break since Thanksgiving, and it's finally here!

For most people, this time of year is filled with a whole lot of nothing. No school, no work, no sports, no NOTHING!

But as a high level gymnast, that's never the case...

With competition season right around the corner, you want to stay on your A-game.

You might think that means:

  • Skipping holiday parties because your nervous about being around more food

  • Avoiding holiday sweets and treats

  • Waking up extra early to get an extra workout in (gotta burn off those Christmas cookies)

But, the reality is, doing this will only leave you feeling guilty, stressed, and drained (instead of refreshed).

Instead of stressing, here are 5 simple ways you can really make the most out of this time and head into the new year (and competition season) feeling your best!

5 Ways To Make The Most Out Of Your Winter Break

Be Present

With competition season right around the corner, I know you're worried about all of these holiday treats and large, festive meals. Realize that your body is smart. It knows what to do with these foods, just as it knows what to do with your "normal" foods. A few meals or days of eating differently will not have a major impact on being competition ready in a few weeks. All food is fuel and can play a role in energy and recovery.

It's important to remember that nutrition (like gymnastics) is all about balance. Nutrition is not "black" or "white", "healthy" or "unhealthy", "vegetables" or "cookies". Swap the word or for and in your vocabulary and find the middle ground that makes you feel most comfortable. You can eat salad and Christmas cookies. Roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.

So, relax a bit! Enjoy a Christmas cookie (or two) if you want them! With the busiest time of your year just ahead of you, try and make the most of this slower time with your family and friends. Instead of stressing about food, be present. Years from now, you'll want to remember the memories with others and not what you did or didn't eat on one specific day.

Get Enough Sleep

Without school and homework taking up so much time, winter break is the perfect time to catch up on sleep and make it a priority! Sleep is SO IMPORTANT for your recovery, since it is the time when your body is able to prioritize building strength and healing! You should aim to get enough sleep each night:

  • 6-12 year olds: 9-12 hours per night

  • 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours per night

  • 18+ years old: 8+ hours per night

Inadequate sleep will not only make you feel tired and sluggish, but it can also lead to increased injury risk and/or increased recovery time from an injury since you're not giving your body enough time to recover. Actually, studies show that:

  • Teen athletes who get less than 8hrs/night have 1.7x greater risk of getting injured compared to athletes who sleep >8hrs a night.

  • Athletes who get 8+hrs of sleep AND eat 5+ servings of fruits and veggies per day are 64% less likely to get injured.

Prioritize sleep by going to bed early enough! If you have trouble falling asleep, building a bedtime routine can help. This may include things like:

  • Using blue light blocking glasses for screen time

  • Setting a tech curfew 60-90 minutes before bed

  • Taking a hot bath or shower

  • Writing daily gratitudes

  • Preparing for the next day (pulling out snacks, setting out clothes, making to-do lists, etc.)