The Live ATOP Cairns Holiday Guide

Updated: Feb 28

While the holidays are usually a fun time of year, they can feel torturous for someone who is trying to break bad habits, lose weight, or reach peak performance. You won’t feel like you are living your best life if you are having a constant mental battle going on in your head over whether or not you should eat that cookie or go up for seconds. So while we do NOT encourage our clients to track their food on the holidays, we DO encourage them to follow a simple set of guidelines to help them make it through without experiencing setbacks. Lifelong changes do not come with deprivation, they come with the ability to stay conscious and practice moderation. We hope that this guide helps you do just that!

At Live ATOP Coaching, we use The Live ATOP Cairns to help guide us towards reaching our goals. What’s a cairn? Well, if you have ever come across a strange stack of rocks while hiking on a trail, you’ve encountered a cairn. Cairns are used to mark hiking routes to keep us on the correct path to get us to our destination. Similarly, The Live ATOP Cairns are our lifestyle guidelines to keep us on track to reaching our goals and living our best lives. So with the holidays here, we thought we’d give you some holiday-themed cairns to help keep you on track towards your goals this holiday season.

The Live ATOP Holiday Cairns

1. Sleep

Action Steps:

  • Get as much sleep as possible (at least 7 hours) the night before any social events. This will help you have the energy and will power to say no to things that you know you shouldn’t be eating.

  • If the party leads to you staying up past your bedtime, allow yourself to sleep in or take a nap later in the day.

2. Hydrate

Action Steps:

  • Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water as a liquid per day.

  • Keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum. Try holding a glass of water in your hand instead of a beer. This will help create a placebo effect which will make you feel like you are drinking.

*If you did drink alcohol, be sure to hydrate first thing in the morning. We also suggest having your Live ATOP Morning Cocktail (it’s not what you think!)

3. Movement

Action Steps:

  • If you can squeeze a workout in before the party, make it happen.

  • Encourage your family or friends to go for a post-meal walk or hike with you. If they think you are crazy, their loss, go alone or take your pup (or your host’s!). If you are in a cold climate, bundle up and think of it as cryo-therapy :)

4. Nourishment (This is obviously going to be the longest)

Action Steps:


  • Choose to eat off a smaller plate if possible. Don’t put anything on your plate until you have had a look at all of the options, remember there isn’t much room.

  • Sit facing away from the food and distance yourself from the food in general while hanging out at the party. Don’t hang out by the appetizer table.

  • Don’t feel obligated to eat certain foods “just because”. Even if your grandma made cookies for you, if you don’t like them, don’t waste calories eating them. Just be sure you express your gratitude for them anyways. (See dialogue suggestions at the end of this guide.)


  • Chew your food 30-50x/bite. Put your utensils down between each bite, have a conversation, make observations of your surroundings, and stay present. Turning it into a game of who could finish their food last is always fun too!

  • If you catch yourself eating fast, stop and take 5 deep breaths before taking another bite.


  • Realize that you can go back for more. Plate one should be lean protein and veggies. Wait at least 15 minutes before going back for more. You’ll be surprised how full you might feel.

  • Brush your teeth to discourage more snacking or end with a salad.

5. Focus

Action Steps:

  • Set your phone background to something that will remind you of your goals.

  • Set alarm reminders on your phone to stay conscious throughout the gathering

6. Gratitude

Action Steps:

  • Practice gratitude for those who you are with and spend genuine time with them. Use this time to connect with loved ones, not the food they made.

  • Practice gratitude for your health and ability to be with your family/friends on this day.

Of course, living your best life isn’t about stressing out over sticking to a set of guidelines. However, the sooner you begin to implement some of these tips, the sooner these things will turn into habits that you don’t have to think about often. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, even picking one action step from each cairn will get you started in the right direction. Even

one action step is a win!

Austin and I used to be able to consume a lot more food due to our intense CrossFit training. Since we no longer train for competitions, we have had to dial things WAY back. These guidelines and action steps are things that we have found to work well, for us and our clients.

Unfortunately, depending on your family’s habits, implementing these guidelines may not be the only obstacle. Sometimes family members or friends may try to pressure you into eating more than you want or even eating something you don’t want. Let’s face it, grandma can be pushy and yet adorable when she wants us to try her cookies. So below we are also providing you with some examples of dialog that is common among family and friends, and what you can say to help politely decline their pressure for you to make undesirable choices.

The main goal is to politely push off their suggestions for later because they are likely going to forget. Remember, what you put into your body is going to affect YOU. Don’t let anyone else make that choice for you by peer pressuring you into eating or drinking something you don’t want to have!

We hope this guide helps you navigate the holidays a little easier than in previous years. Remember, the main purpose of food is fuel and the main purpose of the holidays is to relax, reflect, and spend quality time with the ones you care about. Don’t waste time being excited about that dinner, spend time being excited to spend quality time with the ones you care about.

Happy Holidays!!

-Meg and Austin

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