Group Exercising

Healthy Habits for the Holiday Season With Matt Terlop

The holidays are a time for celebration, but for many, that celebration means a loss of motivation. 

Studies have shown that people tend to gain weight in the time that passes between Thanksgiving and the New Year. 

Unfortunately, many who decide to wait until January to get back on track with their wellness goals never end up doing so.

Matt Terlop is a coach and personal trainer who helps C-Suite executives achieve their fitness and nutrition goals. After working with hundreds of executives and clients for over 22 years, he understands that anyone who wants to perform optimally as a leader must first learn to take care of themselves. 

We sat down with Matt to talk about how executives can manage their wellness over the holidays with healthy habits and strategies to prioritize self-care. If you are ambitious about fitness goals over the holiday season, keep reading. 

Why do you think fitness is essential for executive leadership?

For the past two decades, I’ve noticed an undeniable correlation between those who excel in the world of personal fitness, and those who excel as leaders at work. There’s something about the dedication required to maintain a regimen of care for your body—the same dedication extends to the companies where these people work.

The most prominent of the qualities many of my clients possess is drive. The people who commit themselves to wellness are the ones who keep pushing and don’t give up. They’re motivated to continuously improve. They will succeed.

It’s a mindset they certainly take to their companies as well. And luckily, it’s something that can be honed. So, when I see someone who is lethargic and struggling to motivate themselves, I try to find a way to tap into their inner drive and bring it out of them.

What strategies do you recommend for managing your body through the holidays?

My biggest piece of advice is to set a schedule. Block out certain dates and times and don’t sway from the commitment. When you’re planning, make sure you find times that work for you, then commit. 

The same is true with diet. Set boundaries and monitor yourself. Continue meal planning and limit your cheat days whenever possible. The truth is, once we get over a certain age, it becomes harder to recover from six weeks of cheat days. Hormonal changes in men and women make it imperative to remain dedicated through every season of life. 

What advice do you have for people who can’t meal plan during the holidays?

Of course, it can be hard to meal plan during the holidays, especially when traveling. The best strategy I have for this is meal prep services. They are a fantastic option for busy people. You can get them delivered to your home, office, or wherever you may be visiting. 

What connections do you notice between physical and mental health?

It’s difficult to name specific connections because the truth is that physical and mental health are intrinsically linked. Health is holistic. 

I like to discuss how people should take care of themselves with a diet and exercise schedule. But a unique point of emphasis I always make centers around mental and emotional well-being. 

One way to advance awareness of your complete self and health is meditation. You can use a simple guided meditation by Jack Kornfield. Many, if not most, of the C-suite leaders I work with have never tried meditating. It’s great to see how many are positively impacted by the experience. They feel rejuvenated, and it helps them see how interconnected our bodies and minds are.

Is it enough to just stay active or is a schedule necessary?

Of course, a schedule is the best strategy. But something will always be better than nothing. Going for a walk if you can’t get to the gym or yoga class is still good. 

When traveling, I recommend a few things. First, try a 20-minute power walk. Do some deep breathing exercises and listen to meditative music. 

Secondly, anyone who has completed my course at Managing Partner Bootcamp, this set of nine exercises will be instantly recognizable. This is a short routine of nine calisthenic exercises and stretches. What I recommend here can be completed in 15-20 minutes. If you can manage to get one done daily, that counts as a workout.

The MPB 9

All exercises are to be performed 20x:

  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Lunges
  3. Push ups
  4. Crunches
  5. Side crunches
  6. Hyper extensions
  7. Mule kicks
  8. Dirty dogs 
  9. Mountain climbers

Do these in order for 2-3 sets and you have a great, efficient workout.

What advice do you have for social pressure during the holidays?

This is a psychologically challenging time of year. I usually recommend that people check in with themselves and their goals before the holiday season begins. Monitoring yourself makes it easier to stay grounded and motivated to make wise choices.

When someone tries to pressure you to drink or eat more than you’d planned to, ask yourself if it’s worth it. It almost never is. 

And at the end of the day, it’s important to self-regulate. Whether that means keeping things moderate for the whole six weeks or countering one night of indulgence with heavy workouts the following day—whatever the right balance is for you.

What role does mindfulness play in these strategies?

Personally, I think mindfulness is extremely important for overall wellness and self-care. There is a growing trend in leadership and professional development that prioritizes these things. Some of the highest powered leaders I know have mindfulness implemented into their personal lives, and make similar practices available to their employees.

Executives should grow to love the power of meditation. It allows you to experience firsthand how powerful and helpful mindfulness can be. 

The leaders I coach are results-oriented. They are keenly in tune with ROI. So, when they see the benefits of health and wellness and how it improves productivity, they’re sold. 

Investment in whole-person health has a compounding effect. As a leader, you might lean into this during the holidays, especially as you host events and parties. Offer employees a healthy meal instead of pizza and the chance to engage in company fitness activities over sedentary sit-down dinners. The result will be more motivation and productivity.  

Can you summarize your best advice for implementing healthy holiday season habits?

When I present for Winding River Consulting at Managing Partner Bootcamp, my session is called Self Care and Energy Management. I convey practical ways to take care of your body and mind so you can accomplish whatever goals you may have. As any high-performer knows, working toward your goals doesn’t mean taking a six-week break at the end of every year. 

Before the holiday season begins, check in with yourself. Re-establish your goals and then keep them in mind when making choices regarding food and exercise. 

It’s easy to lose sight of the end game, then make decisions that derail progress. Wellness is achieved and maintained when your lifestyle supports it. Take active steps toward feeling better, and you will. Simple as that. Stay focused this holiday season. Remember who you are and what you want. Then, enjoy wisely—your future self (and team) will thank you.

If you’re in the Cleveland area and want more information or to start training with Matt call 216-401-0276 or email [email protected]