Motivation for Holiday Health
To many people the holidays are an excuse to do and eat anything they want. Regular exercise and proper nutrition should be a lifestyle, not just a short-term plan or something to follow when it is convenient. These two things, diet and exercise, go hand in hand in helping you live your life to the fullest. Yes, there are times we can skip exercise or eat things that we would not normally eat, but this should not be the norm. The holidays might seem to be the perfect time to binge watch TV shows while indulging in favorite snacks, but sticking to a healthy lifestyle is especially important during this hectic, and often stressful time of year.
According to one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average weight gain during the holidays is about one pound. However, because this weight gain is generally not reversed after the holidays, it appears to contribute to the increase in body weight associated to our adult years (Yanovski, et al. 2000). This year is the perfect time to prevent this annual weight gain and begin to reverse the trend! Here are some easy ways to keep your lifestyle healthy during the holiday season:
· Workout with a partner or a trainer.
· Make your workout a priority; schedule it into your weekly plans.
· Make it fun! Vary your workout routine to keep it fresh and enjoyable.
· Vary the length of your workout – this can ensure you don’t skip out on busy days and help achieve goals.
· Workout with the crowd… others will help keep you motivated.
· Stay in the habit of working out to maintain your motivation and momentum.
· Set goals and reward yourself for each milestone accomplished with fitness related rewards. Maybe a calorie tracker to monitor your nutrition, or a foam roller to use pre- or post-workout.
· Don’t be too critical on yourself! Stick to doing what you know is right for your body and your goals
· Get outside and enjoy the weather. If you dress appropriately, an outdoor workout is still a great option.
· Create a personal challenge to keep yourself on track with your goals.
· Sign up for a race, competition, or healthy vacation.
· Start a fitness tradition during the holidays, such as the Jingle Bell Run to raise funds for arthritis research.
For many of us, working out alone is not fun. If you agree, find a like-minded friend as an exercise partner or join a group fitness class; both options will provide encouragement and accountability. If you need more motivation, set up weekly training sessions with a personal trainer; then be sure to follow his or her guidelines when you are on your own.
What are your training goals? Know what you want to accomplish and how you will stick to the plan. Your goal could be as simple as staying fit so you can climb up a flight of stairs without breathing hard. Maybe you want to be able to climb five flights of stairs without breathing hard, or even climb to the top a rugged trail on your next hike. Your goal will depend on what you are looking for at this point in your life – and yes, your goals may change over time.
Make your workout fun and exciting. Vary the exercises as well as the time spent on those activities. One day you could work out 60 minutes while the next time it may only be 30 minutes. Schedule your workouts into your daily and weekly plans so you do not forget to workout, or run out of time. Sticking to your fitness habit will, in turn, help keep you motivated. You feel good after a workout as the endorphins provide a natural high, and leave you with a sense of success. Our bodies are machines, but they only work as well as we treat them.
What do you want to achieve from your fitness plan? Set goals so you have something to achieve in every workout. While setting goals, also make a reward chart for each milestone. The prize could be anything from a shorter workout to buying you a new workout outfit. What is your goal? Remember, it could simply be the knowledge that you are doing the right thing for your health.
Go outside and enjoy the weather. I live in Michigan; for me, if the sun is shining, it is a nice day. There are many winter activities that can be enjoyed and many areas open for walking or hiking year-round. Just make sure the conditions are safe (icy sidewalks are not conducive for fitness walking), and that you are dressed properly for the weather conditions.
Another good way to stay motivated is to create a personal challenge. You could also sign up for a race, such as a “turkey trot” always held around Thanksgiving. This motivation technique may soon become a fun annual event. Ask friends and family to join with you. This will help keep you on track, improve accountability to prepare and complete the event, and significantly up the fun-factor.
The holidays are here. Instead of a yearly tradition that revolves around eating too much, gaining weight, and letting exercise fall to the wayside, make the choice to stick to a healthy lifestyle, continue towards your fitness goals, and enjoy the benefits of eating well and staying active. Keep your body – your machine – in top condition.
Yanovski, J.A., S.Z. YanovskI, K.N. Sovik, T.T. Nguyen, P.M. O’Neil, and N.G. Sebring. 2000. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. New England Journal of Medicine. 342(12): 861-867.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ronda Brodsky is a Physical Education and Health Teacher at a charter school in Detroit, Michigan, with a Master's degree in Physical Education. She has over 30 years in the aquatic industry. Ronda is an American Red Cross CPR; first aid; lifeguarding and water safety instructor. She has been AEA certified for over 20 years in addition to being a previous presenter at IAFC. Ronda is a frequent contributor to the Akwa magazine, AEA’s member publication. She is the author of Aquatastic: Swimming Made Simple. Ronda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org