Holidays can be a WONDERFUL time off of routine tasks such as work and school and provide some extra quality time with family and friends! However, with these wonderful holiday events, often come with travel, busy schedules, and a change in routine. During this busy time, our healthy movement and eating patterns often go straight out the window!
Here are 5 helpful tips to help you stay active and healthy during the holidays. Let’s avoid the total “derail” from all of the wonderful healthy habits you have developed. We recommend keeping some form of movement during your time off, even if it looks different than your regular exercise routine. The goal would be to maintain your current health status (weight, cardiovascular status and strength) and AVOID losing your momentum and motivation regarding your health and wellness goals. You should aim to do enough physical activity to allow you to easily jump back into your regular routine after the Holidays.
To Resist the All or Nothing Mentality, we recommend you come into this busy season with realistic expectations. Many times we hear our clients say “I wasn’t able to get to the gym my normal 4 days/week, so I just didn’t do any exercise for 3 weeks, and now I feel terrible.” This can be a very destructive approach both mentally and physically. Instead, we recommend that you give yourself grace, and do what you can! Maybe you can’t get to the gym 4 days per week, but maybe you can sneak away once a week instead. Or substitute one of your regular gym workouts with a walk with a friend or home yoga class before the kids wake up in the morning. You have full permission for your exercise routine to look different during this time. Try and do a little something each day to fill your movement bucket! (PS…short 15-20 minute workouts totally count!)
We all know this time is BUSY! So in order to best combat the tendency to say “We were just too busy to exercise this holiday,” Plan Ahead! Most people know a rough outline of what their travel and holiday plans might look like. Just like you head to the grocery and local stores to prepare meals and gifts, plan ahead for your exercise commitments too! Take advantage of the moments of the day that you will most likely have some free time to sneak in a quick workout. Or even better yet, get your family and friends involved with you!
Here are a few ideas:
Spinning off the All or Nothing mentality, we encourage you to SPRINKLE your exercise in throughout your day! Rather than committing to 45-60 minutes at the gym or exercise class, consider sprinkling small bouts of movement throughout your day. For example, you can perform body weight exercises and stretches anywhere, anytime!
Quick Movement Ideas:
Be sure to Prioritize Sleep during this time. This is a tough one, we know! Holiday gatherings often involve staying up late watching movies, visiting with family and friends, and playing games. Again this comes down to finding a general balance. There may be a few nights of less sleep, however, try and make up for it the next day or night if you can. We all know how icky we feel on a poor nights sleep (especially if poor food and alcohol choices are involved).
When we don’t get enough, restful sleep, our body produces extra cortisol, which leads to inflammation, which leads to carbohydrate and sugar cravings, which leads to more inflammation, which leads to fatigue, which leads to poor energy and motivation, which leads to poor commitment to exercise. Cue couch potato mode! Or if you do exercise on a chronic lack of sleep, you’re going to be using up all of your available energy storage and putting you in a more negative place than if you were to not exercise at all. This can really stress your adrenals and hormone systems, and once again producing inflammation, which can easily increase your risk of injury and/or illness. In a nutshell, sleep quality is CRUCIAL for your body’s ability to prioritize healthy food and exercise choices.
Last but not least, Make Movement Fun! This is a time to prioritize spending quality time with family and friends. Rather than always sneaking off for a quick “workout,” get your family members involved! Plan a fun activity together that involves some movement and exercise.