Let’s face it, the holidays challenge our willpower.
We’re busier than ever, more stressed than usual, there are temptations everywhere, and so many convenient excuses for not sticking with our wellness plans. However, there is no reason we can’t stay motivated throughout the celebratory season. Consider these helpful hints.
Start with Setting A Holiday Health Goal
Decide ahead of time that you are going to stay healthy throughout the holidays. No matter what your personal intention is, make sure to keep it positive. Let’s say you always struggle with overdoing the Christmas cookies – your intention might be, “I am going to enjoy a moderate amount of Christmas cookies this year.” Hold yourself accountable by avoiding negative self-talk. Perhaps your issue is that you tend to replace gym time with holiday shopping. Your intention could be, “This year, I am going to stick to my gym schedule while also completing my holiday shopping along the way.” It may seem trivial, but the power of setting a positive intention is greater than you may realize, so start there.
Cater Your Exercise Schedule to Your Holiday Schedule
If there’s one thing for certain, your schedule is going to get hijacked over the holidays, which means you’ll need to “think outside the box” in order to get your exercise in. For example, if you tend to keep a strict workout schedule, realize that you may need to change it up in order to accommodate for those extra holiday activities like family visits, cookie baking, holiday concerts, etc. Accept that you’ll have to skip that Monday night 6:00pm class you’ve literally never missed, and know that you can still get a workout in another day or time that week.
“I don’t have time” is just another way of saying “caring for myself isn’t a priority.” So, put your workouts and gym time on your calendar, that way your day (and your workout) won’t get away from you.
You’ll need to take a different approach, depending on your holiday schedule, whether you are “going with the flow” or needing to plan ahead. Once you’ve integrated your best exercise routine, you’ll feel good about embracing a new perspective.
Find Yourself a Holiday Fitness Buddy!
For many of us, working out is more fun when we have someone to train with, so find a partner! Just because you have out-of-town guests for the holiday week doesn’t mean you have to forego your exercise time. Perhaps your guest would even like to visit the gym with you? Many athletic clubs, like Universal, allow you to bring a guest.Gym a No-Go?
If going to the gym is not an option for your buddy and they don’t want to join you at the gym, going for a walk around town or a hike on a local trail are great ways to get moving and spend quality time with those you care about.
Also, many companies now offer corporate wellness programs and incentives, so take advantage of that; should it be available at your workplace. It’s a fun way to connect with your co-workers on a different level. Even if there’s not a program, think about asking one or more of your co-workers to take a walk over lunch break to burn off some of those extra cookie calories!
Plan Your Holiday Workout, Outdoors
Here’s the deal. Spending time outside and connecting to nature is medicine for your body and soul. Don’t let a little cold weather keep you from moving. The key is to dress for the weather, because if you’re cold it won’t be enjoyable. Exercise and the outdoors were both meant to be enjoyed. So layer up, dig out your hats and gloves, step into your boots, and get going! Shoveling snow, sledding with your kids, ice- skating and skiing, etc. are great ways to stay moving throughout the holiday season and winter months. Think of it this way, the faster you move the warmer you’ll stay.
Find Ways to Let Go of Your Holiday Stress
One of the biggest challenges we face over the holidays is stress. Stress can do crazy things to our minds and bodies, which are, as we know, intricately connected. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to release stress and tension, in addition to playing a vital role in building and maintaining a strong immune system. Stress also tends to weaken our immune system. So, it’s actually extra important that we continue our self-care regimen throughout the holidays, which often coincides with cold and flu season.Consider this: Exercise = less stress & stronger immune system.
If you’ve never tried a mind-body exercise, this is the perfect time to do it. The holidays are over-stimulating with music, advertisements, sales, movies, presents, food, all of which, can be quite overwhelming. Taking time away from that may be just the thing you need to stay centered and grounded in the true meaning of the season. Universal Athletic Club offers a variety of mind-body classes to soothe your senses while cultivating strength and focus. Make time to re-connect to yourself, unwind, and let go of your holiday anxiety.
Portion Control Your Favorite Holiday Foods
So maybe your eating plan is going to be de-railed over the holidays…or so you think. Just because there are a lot of extra food, drinks, and sweets swirling around, doesn’t mean you have to surrender to making unhealthy choices for yourself all season. That said, it’s definitely easy to overindulge during the holidays.
Consider that it’s not only about what you eat, but how you eat it AND allow yourself to indulge somewhat without the added guilt. After all, it IS the holiday season so:
- Don’t overload your plate.
- Choose smaller portions so that you don’t feel obligated to “clean your plate” even though you’ve had enough.
- Take time to savor your food.
- Chew slowly and thoroughly.
- Every now and then, put your fork down and take some deep breaths.
- Ask yourself, am I still hungry? If the answer is yes, continue eating, but do not eat until you feel full. A good rule of thumb is to eat until you no longer feel hungry.
Eating can be a great experience, not just an act of filling your belly. Practice mindful consumption, you’ll enjoy your meal more and eat the amount of food that is appropriate for you.