By Jennifer Kalinsky, PTA, BS, ACSM EP-C
The holidays will be here before we know it. Soon, we’ll be sitting around the table with family and friends, feasting on hearty meals and enjoying delicious desserts. Our schedules will become consumed with holiday shopping, decking the halls and decorating, celebrating family traditions and attending festive activities.
Amidst the to-do’s and busyness, our workout plans slowly get pushed to the back burner and we skip out on healthy eating.
“We’ll get back to our healthy lifestyle after the holidays,” we often tell ourselves.
Well, here are some ways to prepare ahead of time so that you’re ready to enjoy the holidays without having to throw away your healthy habits.
1. Create a Fitness Program Now
By establishing a fitness program now, versus trying to create something during a very busy season, you’ll be more likely to stick to it when things get hectic. Give yourself this time to get into a routine, and then you can modify it if needed, but you’ll be more dedicated to carving out time for exercise.
Start by trying out different types of exercise and fitness classes or programs and see what you like best. This is a good time to experiment and find something that works for you.
Make sure to find something you enjoy doing so it doesn’t feel like such a chore. It can be fun to learn about something new and allow yourself to become invested in how it makes you feel.
You might decide you like doing a combination of various types of workouts, and that’s great too. Establish a schedule that works for you. For example, you might do strength training and cardio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then yoga on Tuesday and Thursday. Whether you’re attending classes or building your own schedule, try to stick with a similar plan each week.
2. Seek Out Motivation & Accountability
Finding a fitness family of like-minded individuals can do wonders for holding you accountable. By joining a class, you’ll likely find this group of people in no time. Or, maybe you’ll choose your significant other, neighbor, friend, coworker or relative to be your workout partner. Even if you aren’t doing every workout together, it’s nice to have someone to check in with and push you.
If you’re programming your own workouts, make sure to pick a day during the week to sit down and plan out the next seven days. Decide in advance what you are going to do and at what time, and try to stick to your calendar. But also learn to adjust. If something comes up, try to reschedule the workout for a different time or for a day that was originally planned as an “off/rest” day.
Find what motivates you before starting a workout. Whether it be a specific type of music, a podcast or talking to your fitness family, shake things up to try and find what best gets you into the zone.
Lastly, do not be afraid to ask for help and reach out to a fitness professional.
3. Eat Healthy Now
Start now with eating a well-balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, protein, healthy carbs and fats. Do not wait until next week, next month or the New Year to get started.
By doing so, you’re working toward a healthier you, which will allow a little more room for treats as we go into the holidays. You can then focus on enjoying your time and maintaining your current health, versus trying to lose weight or start diet plans during this time. Even if you do gain a few pounds during the holiday season, you will already have an established foundation to get back on track right.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean depriving yourself of food that you like. You should find what foods you enjoy and get creative with your meals, so you can still eat foods that satisfy you. Then you’ll be less likely to give up on your healthy eating.
Ditch the “all-or-nothing” mindset and allow yourself to create a good relationship with food.
4. Take Time to Decompress
Holidays can become stressful, so make sure to find ways to de-stress by using this time to explore activities and hobbies that you enjoy.
Create a schedule that includes this activity/hobby and set aside time for it in the morning, afternoon or evening to help decrease your overall stress levels of the day.
Be patient and kind to yourself. There will be days that are more challenging than others. Life is not all that serious and it is important to enjoy your surroundings and this time with family and friends. It’s alright to enjoy a few snacks in moderation, and it’s also fine to say “no” when you want/need to.
Listen to your body and give yourself room to grow and get better.
5. Develop a Plan
Take the time each week to create a plan that includes a workout schedule, grocery shopping list and recipe plan. Be sure to also include time to decompress, in addition to your work schedule and social life. It can feel less overwhelming when you create lists and plan things out in advance.
If you know you’re going to have a busier week, then plan healthy enjoyable meals or snacks that you can bring places or eat on the go.
In addition to weekly calendars and daily plans, make sure to set goals for yourself before the holiday season begins. Check in on these goals from time to time to keep yourself on-track.
6. BONUS TIP: Have Fun!
The holidays are a fun time to spend with family and friends. Instead of getting all mixed up in the hustle and bustle of it all, focus on what is important and enjoy each day.
The more you have fun with building a healthy lifestyle – physically, mentally and socially – the more likely you’ll be to stick with it!
Allow yourself to let loose a bit during the holidays and enjoy great company and delicious treats … all in moderation!
Jennifer Kalinsky is a physical therapy assistant at Ohio Sports & Spine Institute. She is also a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Although Jennifer is not a dietician or doctor, she enjoys educating her patients on fitness, nutrition and other exercise science topics, based on her studies and experience. You can reach her at email@example.com or by calling one of our offices.