The next five weeks just might be the toughest time of year to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Diets go out the window with all the parties and big meals and finding time to exercise gets even more difficult. With all that goes into preparing for the holidays — the shopping, the kids being home from school, the cold weather and loss of daylight — it can be a “hot mess.”
As a trainer, you might think it’s my job to tell you to stay on track, don’t let the temptations get the better of you and keep exercising – no matter what.
Well…to some degree you’re right, but my approach to fitness and living a healthy lifestyle is based on everything being sustainable. If you’re the type of person whose disciplined enough to stay on your diet and keep your fitness routine during the holidays, that’s great! Don’t change a thing, you’re a rock star. But if you’re like most of us (me, included), things just seem to fall off. And that’s okay. As long as they don’t fall off completely.
That is the only hard line approach: don’t give up and say you’ll start again in the New Year. Instead, accept the fact that the holidays are about celebrating and being a little bit indulgent. Just because you may have slipped up the day or evening before, doesn’t mean your entire holidays are shot. The next day is just that: the next day to start fresh and new.
Notice I said a little bit indulgent. You don’t want to completely undo the good habits you’ve spent the last few weeks or months building. Here are my three tips to staying healthy during this time of year:
It can be hard to carve out the time to exercise. Maybe you can’t get to the gym three days a week or you don’t have a full 45 minutes to an hour to devote to a workout. Or, maybe you want to try out Fitness on the Run’s Holiday Challenge?
Can you get to the gym once a week? Use that time to have some fun! Try out a new class, heck, even try out something new!
Break up your workout in to 15- or 20-minute increments. Go for a walk a few times during the day. Take the stairs at work. If you go shopping, park at the far end of the parking lot. You’ll get more exercise and you’ll be sure to find a spot.
The 80/20 rule is simple. During the week, follow your plan as best you can. Eat a good breakfast, bring your lunch to work, cook a great dinner, try to get some exercise, and aim for 20 percent of the evenings with alcohol included. On the holiday or weekends – indulge a little.
Oh…there’s that “a little” phrase again. Remember, moderation is key. I would never tell you not to eat or drink certain things you love. Enjoy a small dessert, just don’t take it upon yourself to finish the whole dessert or the entire dessert tray. It’s the holidays, let the kids polish off the dessert.
This is something you should strive for all the time, and it’s even more important during the holidays. Your brain can confuse thirst with hunger. A large glass of water before a meal can lessen the amount of food you consume. And if you’re drinking alcohol, alternate water between drinks. This will slow down your alcohol consumption and it will keep you hydrated, which can help with that slow start you may have the next morning.
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