With fall racing season behind many of us, and Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, it’s easy to let the holidays derail the hard work we’ve done over the past year. For a long time, the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s were my unhealthiest. Between holiday parties, family get-togethers with delicious food and sweets, time commitments and a general lack of desire to exercise, I’d often be unhappy with how I felt by the time the new year rolled around.
It is hard to stay on track with all that goes on during these holidays. However I’ve learned that a realistic approach to exercise, eating and routine, along with a little moderation, can result in a much happier holiday season.
Below are a handful of things I focus on as the holidays approach. What do you focus on?
- Be Realistic: I love my mom’s cheesecake, seven layer cookies and mozzarella-packed Italian stuffing way too much to restrict it during the holidays. So instead of completely avoiding these treats, I set attainable goals. I focus on healthy food first (veggies, turkey, sweet potatoes) and then allow myself a serving of cake, cookies or whatever else I want.
- Short, Hard Workouts: If you can’t run or make it to the gym for your workout one day, try adding on a few extra miles/minutes the day before. Or if you know you will be pressed for time, substitute a short, hard run in lieu of your planned 8 miler. I used to be of the mindset that it was a waste to do a shorter workout than the one I had originally planned, but the reality is a 20 minute run will always be better than no run.
- Go Early: Set that alarm and get your workout in first thing in the AM before the parties, dinners and holiday commitments begin.
- Planned Rest Days: There are certain days during the holidays where I know a run will be tough to squeeze in – and I’m 100% okay with that. I coordinate my training plan for the week around the days I would prefer to sleep in or spend entirely with my family.
- Make it a Family Affair: There are tons of local turkey trots and other holiday races this time of year. You don’t have to be in “racing” shape to sign up. Get some friends and family to make a morning out of it. Or go for a short walk with your family after dinner. Not only will the exercise be beneficial, but the fresh air will feel great as well.
- Drink Water: Holiday parties and family gatherings typically go hand in hand with alcoholic beverages and salty or high-fat foods. These have the tendency to make me feel bloated for days after. Rather than not allowing myself to enjoy it all, I focus on ways to minimize the effects. The easiest is by drinking more water. Not only does water keep you fuller, but it also will help prevent the bloating from overly salty food and alcohol.
- Be Easy On Yourself: It’s okay to indulge a bit during the holidays, sleep in when you didn’t plan on it and skip the workout altogether. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as planned. Just be sure not to let that one missed workout cause a snowball effect for the rest of the holidays.