Give Yourself the Gift of Exercise
Nov 29, 2021
With the holidays here, there will be many opportunities to celebrate, create memories, and enjoy the seasonal fare of this merry time of year. While many look forward to the festivity of the season, trying to maintain a fitness routine while surrounded by cookies and eggnog, can feel like an uphill battle. But don’t despair, with a little guidance from the teams at Fitness Together® Studios, this year can mark the start of a new tradition - celebrating the season without abandoning your wellness routine.
In this blog, we’ll focus on the importance of maintaining a fitness routine throughout the busyness of the holiday season and equip you with tips to help you enjoy the year end without losing sight of your wellness goals. So get ready to ditch your typical “get in shape” New Year’s resolution and instead build a yuletide routine that’ll help you start the new year on the right track!
GET BACK TO BASICS
To begin, take a moment to remind yourself of the reasons you began your fitness routine in the first place. What goals were important to you? If one of the reasons was to optimize stress management, then the holidays present the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the stress-reductive benefits of a fitness routine. Shopping, family gatherings, a packed social calendar and the financial burdens of the holiday season can all drive stress levels up a notch, but making time to clear your head through exercise can help you to organize your mental clutter by providing a reprieve from daily obligations and time to process your thoughts.
THE MANY GIFTS OF EXERCISE
Similar to the other months of the year, maintaining your fitness routine throughout the holiday season is important for both your mind and body - here are a few reasons why.
LESS HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
The holidays tend to include an abundance of seasonal snacks and treats. From toffee to cheese trays at office parties, ornament exchanges, or family gatherings, the opportunities to pack your plate are plentiful and the impact to your waistline can build slowly over time. The inevitability of gaining the holiday weight, however, can be offset by staying active and making deliberate dietary choices. According to a study conducted by Harvard Health, knowledge about the amount of physical activity necessary to burn off calories consumed through holiday food and drink consumption helped participants to weigh the worth of culinary indulgences. For instance, if you knew it would take 12 minutes of walking or six minutes of running to burn off grandma’s famous pigs-in-the-blanket, would they be worth the work?
When you do choose to indulge, consider practicing mindful eating, which refers to the practice of being aware in the moment, noticing preoccupations, and making thoughtful choices instead of choices fueled by stress, sadness, distraction, or boredom. Remember, it is entirely acceptable to embrace occasional holiday treats, but during holiday downtime, try to maintain healthy eating habits that fulfill your nutritional needs and provide you the energy to conquer your holiday “to-dos”.
KEEP YOUR MIND RIGHT
As we enter the winter months, the days are colder and the daylight hours are limited. For many, this can lead to varying degrees of moodiness, anxiety, and seasonal depression. Studies have shown that a daily routine that includes exercise has many health benefits, including improved ability to cope with change, improved interpersonal relationships and reduced stress.
Keeping daily routines can also add structure to our days, help regulate food intake, circadian (sleep/waking) rhythms, and heighten feelings of stability and security. So while the results you can see are certainly a positive outcome of sticking with your fitness routine through the holiday season, the enormous sense of mental well-being that can result from exercise can help to improve your overall outlook and keep you emotionally fit for the festivities.
MAKE MOVING FAMILY MEMORIES
Time spent with family over the holidays often involves lots of eats and treats and time in jammies on the couch. But family time can also provide an opportunity to get active while making memories with those you love the most. During the winter months, consider sledding, skiing, ice skating, or participating in winter games and activities to keep your body moving and the family fun flowing.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR FITNESS ON COURSE
While the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can seem relentless, if you’re committed to maintaining your fitness routine, putting simple strategies in place can help keep you focused through the holiday months and beyond.
DON'T FRET ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE
Because of the many commitments of the holiday season, scheduling challenges can make it harder to fit your workout in. If you’re finding yourself stretched thinner than usual, consider adapting your fitness schedule to remain on course with your fitness plans. On days when your calendar is packed, try participating in a virtual fitness class instead of making the drive to the fitness studio, or scheduling an early morning workout session instead of mid-day, so the domino effect of running daily errands doesn't nudge exercise off your agenda. Keeping your fitness routine in motion will not only give you the energy to take on the holiday season, but it might also provide a refreshed approach to achieving your fitness goals that will reinvigorate your excitement about your daily workouts, as well.
SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
While you might be able to stick to daily workouts, pack healthy lunches, and crush your fitness goals most months of the year, prioritizing fitness can be more challenging during the holiday season — and that’s to be expected. By adjusting your exercise routines as necessary and setting realistic fitness expectations, you can remain actively engaged with your fitness plan while still allowing yourself the opportunity to enjoy the festivities. If you decide to skip a morning workout because you had a late night at a holiday event, that’s okay. Just set your intentions to fully enjoy your night out and jump back into your wellness routine the next day.
TRACK YOUR WORKOUTS
If you find it satisfying to mark tasks off your to-do list, then tracking your workouts is sure to prove gratifying. According to a recent study published in PLOS Medicine, self-monitoring and goal setting using a fitness tracker, can inspire major lifestyle changes. The ability to quantify your daily activity through an app or pedometer can provide the metrics you need to hold yourself accountable for meeting your daily movement goals. Additionally, keeping a workout log detailing your weekly fitness plans can help you keep forward momentum by providing a map or schedule to eliminate daily guesswork and provide a clear path for reaching your larger fitness goals. Tracking your fitness results can be done in a variety of ways, each of which helps to remind you of the progress you’ve made and the work that remains to be done.
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
During all the craziness of the holiday season, one of the most important gifts you can give yourself is the gift of grace. The act of giving yourself grace is making the choice to be kind to yourself instead of critical. According to “Perspectives in Parenting” blogger, Rachel Nigro, giving yourself grace is “celebrating what you’ve done today, not (noticing) everything that is left undone. Grace is recognizing (that) you are doing a good job even when you feel like you’re not.”
This holiday season when you begin to feel like you’re missing the mark, take a moment to slow down and to remember what is important, to recognize what you cannot control, and to be grateful for all the daily blessings that can be so easily overlooked.
Whether you try one or all of these tips, having a plan can help you keep to your fitness routine and work toward your goals. Need some extra accountability or support? Fitness Together personal trainers are here for you!