Every year countless people decide to dedicate themselves to a rigid fitness plan that will change their lives. They scratch out daily workouts and join gyms. They buy foods they hate and choke down rice cakes for a week or so. Then, as rapidly as the desire to change set in, the need for complacency sets in and the will power fades.
Excuses become a way of daily life, as exercise takes the proverbial backseat to other more important pursuits. Yet, what people do not readily see, is that nothing is more important than making time for you, both on a physical and psychological level. An intimate connection exists between the body and the mind, so finding true happiness begins with discovering the symmetry between body and soul.
For every person, however, maintaining that balance during the holidays represents a stern challenge, one that rarely gets accomplished flawlessly if at all. So, as we approach the holidays, a time flooded with food, drink, and indulgence, consider the following tips to keep the world manageable and your body fit.
- Set Realistic Goals: Most people operate on the extremes: either they have no desire to workout or they devise this Ironman-style training regimen. Rather than going all in with a set of unrealistic expectations, such as never drinking any alcohol, avoiding all snack food, or running five miles before opening presents, create a logical set that reflects the demands of the season. You won’t become a rock hard, chiseled specimen by the New Year, so don’t expect it. Be real about what you can accomplish, and then do that. This way you maintain a sense of confidence, create a good base for health, and enjoy what the holidays have to offer.
- Understand There Will Be Excess: Trying to trim all the fat during one celebration after the next simply has no truth or realism to it. You just cannot. Know that you will probably overeat once or twice, drink too much a few times, and spend a day or two lounging. As long as this doesn’t become your daily routine, accept that you will have days of indulgence, and that it is alright. Be moderate in your approach, but don’t abstain from the fun.
- Avoid Guilt: Don’t beat yourself up with each cookie you eat, and don’t sit at Christmas dinner regretting each time you swallow another large piece of ham. Know that you need not eat the entire baking sheet full of grandma’s cookies and that leaving a little ham on the bone is a good thing. Avoid the excess and you can avoid the guilt. Portions control is critical.
- Pick a Set Time to Exercise: Prior to the beginning of the season, begin your daily routine. Don’t try to start just before the holidays begin, as you’ll never get into the swing of feeling good and wanting to workout. Instead, start ahead of schedule and do so at a set time. Be consistent in your approach and work hard. These do not need to be two-hour workouts, but rather stress the intensity you invest. Thirty quality minutes will get you going nicely.
- Make It Important: As with every decision in life, the end result is only as certain as the person pursuing it. With this idea in mind, do not place exercise on the bottom of your priority list; instead, place it near the top. Consistent activity will not only reward you physically, but it will also give you a mental charge, one that provides your life with a boost of energy and confidence. Doing so will make handling all the other stress that accompanies the holidays much less difficult.
- Get a Partner: Doing anything alone is tough. Find a partner who can help keep you on track and motivate you. Join a class or get a friend who will meet you at the gym. Find a neighbor who will go for a long walk or jog with you each day. If you are obligated to another person, you may very well be more apt to stay dedicated.
- Have Variety: People get bored easily, so mix it up. Do not walk the same two-mile loop every single day. One day walk the loop and the next day jog a new trail. Do the bike at the gym one morning, and the next morning jump on the elliptical. Variety will keep you stimulated and interested, and it will keep your muscles fresh and growing.
Overall, enjoy the holidays by controlling your portions, knowing that you’ll overindulge, and exercising consistently in a variety of ways. Best of luck.