‘Tis the season … for everyone to drop their diet.
Between decorating your house, cleaning for company, shopping and cooking for company, attending/hosting parties … what was a number one priority drops much lower on the list. And if you’ve been on a weight-loss plan for more than a couple months, you know what happens when you neglect your workouts:
Less calories burned + muscle wasting = metabolism dip
Add to this equation, less sleep with last minute shopping trips or late night holiday parties.
Add to this equation, all the sugar, booze and processed crap available EVERYWHERE.
Add to this equation, the convenience of dining out while you are doing the holiday hustle-around.
Throw in a snowstorm or two.
= I’m just saying there’s a reason Santa Claus’s belly looks like a big bowl of jelly
But it’s not just about losing and gaining weight here. The thing is, at a time of year when it’s getting dark and cold, you’re stressed and there’s sugary crap everywhere, you need a pick-me-up more than ever. No, I’m not talking about some kind of peppermint mocha thing. I’m saying don’t miss out on that one part of your day when you feel relaxed, accomplished, strong and energized from all the happy endorphins coursing through your body.
Don’t skip your sweat.
There’s this yoga quote I love: “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day. If you’re too busy, sit for an hour.” I’m not saying workout even more than usual (though, if you feel like stepping it up and it’s available, by all means do it up). Actually, I’m suggesting the opposite – that YOU SHORTEN YOUR WORKOUT.
Shorter, lower-maintenance workouts may seem like “not enough,” but if you work hard and fast, bodyweight workouts can be even be more intense than your usual workout.
Here’s what you do:
Wake up 20 minutes earlier and get sweaty in your pajamas (before anyone else can take up your time) with this no-equipment, no-excuses workout:
Perform this workout as a descending pyramid. For the first set, give every exercise 10 reps. Once you finish the circuit, give every exercise nine reps. Repeat 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. DONE!
Jump squats/box jumps
This is the workout I do when I’m on vacation or don’t have time to get to the gym. Whether it’s in my hotel room or on a beach, it WORKS!
Here’s another fitness tip: make your workouts work with the holiday season. I have made it a tradition for myself to run a Turkey Trot on the morning of Thanksgiving every year, so I can enjoy the time (and food) with friends later on, sans-guilt. I like to participate in holiday-themed yoga classes that focus on gratitude, love, and reflection that have helped me to embrace the holidays. I love post-feast walks with family, or touch football games that work up an appetite for a slice (but not three) of pie.
Remember when you do indulge or miss a workout, don’t let guilt pull you into a vicious cycle. If you feel yourself getting wrapped into the mentality of “I have over-indulged and missed the gym for a week now … screw it, I’ll just get back at New Years …” start with your next meal. Use your next opportunity to move your body. The little things count!
Most of the time people completely throw their training and nutrition out the window because they had a couple bumps in the road and felt so guilty they decided to throw the towel in and pick it up on the holiest of days, January 1. But let me remind you of something you already know: fitness (and life for that matter) is not an “all or nothing” thing. Balance is the key throughout the year, with the holidays being no exception. If you can compromise with squeezing in a shorter workout instead of skipping it altogether, you can feel good about spending time with your family.
Squeezing SOMETHING in will boost your metabolism and even prevent you from reaching for sugary treats for two reasons: 1) you won’t feel as worn down (exercise gives you energy) and 2) you’ll have some pride in the the fact that you got moving even when it was hard, and that will keep you sticking to the good stuff. One good decision begets another
Speaking of, here are a few of my other my “survival guide” for staying fit, happy and healthy, not just for the holidays, but anytime life gets crazy. Make it easy on yourself to get the important staples in to make you feel good and keep your energy even-keel, instead of dealing in extremes.
1) Use healthier substitutes in baking (see my recent post, “An open letter to holiday bakers”). And when it comes your holiday favorite treats, instead of taking down ALL the sugar cookies or missing out totally, have one or two of your favorite treat and be done with it. Having a ton of your favorite doesn’t make it that much more enjoyable.
2) Get your veggies and protein in. When you are home and at work, make your meals as you would at any other time of the year, and if you are out, order a meal with good protein, lots of veggies and smart carbs. During holiday feasting, make up your plate with the lean and green, and add in small portions of your favorite potato, squash and stuffing.
3) Help your health in the simplest (and cheapest) of ways by staying hydrated. Between the booze, the dry cold air and the hustling around (and maybe a few extra coffees?), your body will need extra water, and dehydration can lead to sluggish energy and digestion. Feeling slo-mo and worn out make you less likely to hit the gym and less likely to workout. Keep water bottles handy. I try to drink one every time I’m in the car and a glass before every meal.
Remember this: if you can keep a balanced, healthy approach to fitness and nutrition during one of the toughest parts of the year, think of how proud you will be of yourself a few months from now when the weather is warming up and flowers, and muscles, are making their appearance. Stay the course. Reap the benefits.
Happy Holidays from Your Trainer,