Every year the months blow right by and the holiday season forever remains fast approaching. Before you know it, you’re walking through the mall with the sound of holiday jingles filling the air as shoppers make their way down the “wish lists” of loved ones.
It’s tough not to enjoy the magical wonder created by the holidays, however being in the fitness industry it can be quite cringe-worthy seeing many set themselves back after working extremely hard in the gym for the entire year.
By no means am I the Grinch that is seeking to rob you of the holidays, however I am here to try to guide you in making better decisions so that when January comes around, you’re not full of complete and utter regret.
Habit #1: Disrupting your exercise routine by taking the entire month off
We can all agree that during the holidays the rigorous schedule of events can quickly become overwhelming, and balancing these commitments with our already demanding work, life and home duties can push many over the edge. After hitting snooze on a couple of morning workouts due to a late night we decide that we should give it up entirely for the month and return back fresh in the new year. Countless members of yoga, spin, crossfit, and gyms across the country all walk past the front desk in mid-November asking to have their memberships put on hold.
For many, if they’re unable to engage in their exercise routine to the exact degree they’ve written out then they will not do it at all. This is sometimes referred to as the “all or nothing,” approach. Such rigidity can be a beneficial trait during certain instances, however during the holidays it will work against you.
Do not cancel any memberships; instead reduce the frequency and/or duration of your visits. If you’re someone that is accustomed to training 4x/week for 60-minute sessions then maybe reduce it down to 2-3x/week for 30-45 minutes. Sneaking in 15-30-minute workouts where possible doesn’t seem like a lot but when it’s matched up against no exercise at all, they win every time!
During the holidays creativity will be your best friend. If you don’t have any access to the gym then be prepared to travel with some of your own equipment such as resistant bands and kettlebells. Whenever you have the choice of moving versus sitting, walking versus driving, always choose the more health-conscious and not convenient option! Instead of spending time as a family sitting around the TV, find ways to incorporate family walks in the evening after dinner.
Habit #2: Eating-out multiple times a week
In certain industries the Christmas party is the anticipated year-end get together where everyone can finally let loose. Many businesses will host these at a restaurant. For some of us there will be more than one social engagement tied to work which we will have to attend during this period, and that means that the frequency of eating out is sure to rise.
When planning any social engagements, if you have the choice between either home-cooking versus the restaurant, always pick the former. Upon arriving at the dinner, always focus on the healthy options available such as fruits, vegetables and protein. Prioritizing the space on your plate for the healthy options while only leaving a modest amount of space for the dessert will go a long way. Generally speaking a lot of the main dishes we find during the holidays are rich in calories, therefore adding on helpings of dessert on top is sure to cause the waistline to thicken.
Habit #3: Excessive alcohol consumption
It’s extremely difficult to completely avoid the overly abundant flow of booze during this period in the year, however when you lose the handle on this then it’s a slippery slope leading towards January first! Alcohol is a double-edged sword considering that it is extremely dense in calories AND it also inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat. When you allow all the food you’ve eaten to sit in your stomach and marinade in some wine or vodka, you are making it very tough for your body to stand any chance in staving off fat storage.
Being honest with yourself is the first step in ensuring that the alcohol doesn’t get the best of you this holiday season. Creating a hard rule which you abide by at all times will be critical if you are to be successful. An example would be telling yourself that there’s no alcohol allowed from Monday to Thursday but the weekends are fair game with a modest limit (i.e.: 2-3 drinks/ event). If you’ve never enjoyed non-alcoholic beverages before then this is a great opportunity to give them a go!
Now that wasn’t so bad was it? I hope that instead of putting a damper on your holiday cheer I’ve provided you with useful tips that you can put into action this Christmas and perhaps this January you’ll be thanking me. Remember, instead of setting yourself back in progress this new year, take everything you’ve learned on your fitness journey and put it into practice. Happy Holidays!