As we all tend to have a difficult time staying fit during the holidays, I thought I'd lend my perspective on how I try to get my runs in and keep my sanity (and waistline) during a flood of cookies, cakes, pies and adult beverages.
Quite simply, I try to "earn" my meals or the cookies by running the day of a particularly unhealthy meal. The less healthy I expect the meal to be (and the more I plan to eat) the longer I try to run or the more often I try to run. After hitting the roads when others are sitting at home watching TV, I feel like I'm doing my part to earn an unhealthy meal.
This started when I used to do Weight Watchers. Their points system really worked for me because you could earn more food points by exercising and getting activity points. So, if i got home after work and only had 3 points left but wanted a 6-point meal, I would just go for a 3-point walk (it was all walking at that time) so that I could eat the 6-point meal. It was a great way to earn a less healthy meal by being active.
The "earning" of the meal accomplishes two things. First, it kicks my metabolism into gear, which helps with the burning of the unhealthy meal. But second, it gives me a psychological lift by feeling that I can eat a little unhealthy and still be fine. In my mind, that's the most important part.