The holidays are upon us and that means great food, fun and spending quality time with loved ones. This can be a busy time for many of us as we do our best to put others before ourselves. However, with all the fun and festivities, we can easily go off track in regards to our health and fitness goals. The following are some tips to help you maintain a healthy and fit routine during the upcoming holiday season.
1. It’s okay. Nobody’s perfect.
With all the hustle and bustle, you are bound to miss a workout here and there and that is okay. We don’t expect perfection with other areas of our life, so exercise is no different. Just make sure you get the next one!
2. Commit to two or three of your favorite holiday treats.
List your favorites and you are more likely to stick to those. This should help prevent the “accidental” consumption of other treats that you weren’t planning on eating.
3. Plan ahead and create time.
“I was so busy with the holidays and spending time with my family, I couldn’t find time to workout,” is one of the more common “reasons” given for not keeping up with exercise during the holidays. Instead of dwelling on the obstacles faced during the holiday season and what you can’t do, focus on what you can do and find solutions to help keep you on track. Just as you would plan your time spent with your family, plan to incorporate your exercise as well. Even exercising as little as ten minutes sporadically throughout the day has been shown to be better than no exercise at all. Keep in mind that a little bit of something is better than a big nothing.
4. Be realistic.
When planning ways to stay on a healthy track this holiday season, keep in mind that having a realistic view about your situation and abilities is key to overcoming any pressure that you may be putting on yourself during this busy time of year. Be honest and know your limitations. For example, if you know that you won’t be able to stick to not eating any sweet treats and plan on eating just celery in place of that, you will most likely feel pressure or be pressured into eating that piece of pie or that brownie at one time or another during the holidays. Make sure that your plan will work in reality, not just in theory.
5. Make exercise a family affair.
Spending quality time with family during the holiday season is often spent with too much food and too much sitting around. Exercise tends to take a backseat to yearly family traditions. Instead of taking a complete break during the holidays, reinvent some of those traditions and make exercise more of a family affair. Maybe go for a family walk around the neighborhood and look at the holiday decorations, suggest a game of backyard football or even a holiday-themed dance party. They say variety is the spice of life, right? Spice it up!
6. It’s okay to say “No, thank you.”
“Just have one.” “It’s the holidays!” “Alright, just one more…” We’ve all been there. The holidays bring out the best in hospitality with people wanting us to feel welcome and comfortable. However, that usually means we are offered a lot food, which can affect the holiday plan that we set forth. We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of those sweet, delicious bites, but at the same time, we don’t want to feel guilty or ungrateful when we politely decline our host’s offer for more. Therefore, there is a tendency to accept their gracious offering(s). Accepting their hospitality in other ways can help alleviate the pressure. For example, if they offer you that piece of pie, politely decline and ask, “Who made that delicious-looking salad over there?”
7. On-the-go this holiday season? No sweat.
Traveling and looking for options to get your workouts in? Fitness apps on your smartphone/tablet, DVDs and even online can yield a variety of effective workouts that you can perform indoors or outdoors with little to no equipment necessary. Looking to workout in a gym setting while away from home? Many fitness centers offer discounted rates and sometimes free use of the facility for out-of-town travelers, so make sure you call ahead. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, the world is your gym.
8. Maintain, no gain.
Let’s be honest—the holidays can be a challenging time for staying on a healthful track. A hardcore gym session would be great if you had the time, but even a walk around the neighborhood with your kids can also be considered a win. Politely declining that second piece of pie and staving off those would-be calories are a success within itself. You might not stick to your holiday plan 100%. However, celebrating those small victories can help you stay inspired and get you back on track to your normal routine as soon as possible!
The team at Altru’s Weight Management Program is dedicated to the successful weight loss and weight management of our patients. We use proven, science-based methods to guide you on your journey to your healthiest tomorrow. Learn more >>
Shawn Reich is a medical fitness specialist at Altru Health System and also a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. He is always finding new ways to improve his and his clients’ fitness. Many know him as the “Battle Ropes guy,” as he is constantly seen working with this effective exercise tool. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with family and friends, photographing nature, playing video games and watching his reality shows.