Decorating, baking, hosting guests, keeping the kids occupied, shopping for gifts… The holidays can be a hectic time. ‘Tis the season to put our workout and healthy eating goals on hold, right?
But you don’t have to put your health on the back burner! You can stay healthy and active during the holiday season while still accomplishing everything else on your to-do list. All it takes is some planning, diligence, and a bit of flexibility. Here are a few tips to get you through the season:
1- Prioritize and Set Goals
What are your goals for staying active? Walk every day? Muscle strengthening? Resistance training twice a week? Portion control?
Whatever your priorities are, write them down in the form of achievable goals. This will help you stay on track as the busy holiday season sets in.
The most important thing is that you keep your expectations realistic. If you set hard to reach goals, you may end up feeling discouraged when you are unable to meet them.
2- Make a Plan
Plan in advance when and how you will be fitting physical activity into your holiday season. This may just be continuing your normal routine. Or, it could be something entirely different based on your holiday plans.
Set time limits and determine how many days a week you want to exercise. Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week meets the guidelines for exercise set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
If you will be traveling, do you have any particular shoes or portable equipment that you need to bring with you?
3- Set Boundaries
If you are being pulled in too many directions by friends, family, and other obligations, don’t be afraid to say no. You need to make time for your health, and most friends and family will be on board if you communicate this to them.
4- Flexible Accountability
Things come up during the holiday season. If a friend wants to get together for dinner while they’re in town but you have a workout planned for that evening, it’s okay to move your plans around. Perhaps you can go for a walk after dinner with your friend or visit the gym in the morning instead?
5- Get the Whole Family Moving
Make it a family activity! You could walk or run a marathon, start a steep challenge for the season, or have a dance party in the living room!
However you decide to do it, getting others involved is a great way to keep everyone motivated and accountable- plus, it’s more fun!
6- Treat Yourself Now and Then
Don’t restrict yourself to the point that all you can do is think about that apple pie being served for dessert. As long as you do not have any serious health restrictions, it is okay to treat yourself from time to time, especially during the holidays! So, enjoy yourself- but in moderation, of course.
7- Go Easy On Yourself
Keep your self talk positive! If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it. No one is perfect, and it’s impossible to expect yourself to make it through the holiday season without slipping up once. That is normal and 100% okay.
8- Don’t Give Up Because of One Slip Up
That being said, if you do fall off the wagon, don’t make it a habit. The best thing you can do after a missed workout or eating too many Christmas cookies is to stick to your plan as if nothing happened. Your body will thank you and you will feel much better once you are back on track.
What you don’t need to do after a slip up is to double up on workouts or further restrict calories as “punishment.” This is neither effective nor safe.
9- If You Are Traveling, Look for New Activities in the Area
Visiting family? Plan some activities in advance to do as a group. This is a great way to have fun and spend quality time while keeping on track with your health and fitness goals. Perhaps you could go ice skating, or if you are in a milder climate, walk around the neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights!
10- Enjoy Yourself
Most importantly, don’t get so caught up in your exercise regimen that you forget to enjoy time with friends and family. A missed workout here or there is inevitable during the busy holiday season.
So, don’t stress about being perfect and instead enjoy baking cookies with the kids guilt-free.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle is a long term goal that requires commitment. While it may be tempting to take a break when things get busy, you don’t want to undo all of the progress you’ve made or lose out on all of the health benefits that come with an active lifestyle.
By finding creative, fun, and social ways to work physical activity into your holiday plans, you can stay on track with your health goals without compromising the holiday experience. Who knows, you may even start up some new family traditions in the process. So get out there, enjoy your holidays, and stay active!Tags: Exercise, fitness, health, holiday season, staying active