A Guide to Staying Fit Over the Holidays

It’s the holiday season. There’s two kinds of people in this world: those that stress about staying fit & those that simply say, “F$@% it!” Which one are you? For most of us, the seasons changing come with both a bit of relief (baggy sweaters and winter clothes!) and fearful dread at the thought of endless family dinners and desserts.

For starters, the holidays shouldn’t make you cringe. The entire point of the holidays is to enjoy being around friends, family, and celebrating the things that are truly important! I’ve said this before - read my post on “Changing your Relationship with Food” - but you need to allow yourself some grace during the holiday season. This represents a very small time frame in your 365 days on the planet each year and it’s wildly important that you make the most of them! Spending countless hours worrying about a single day (or even a span of two or three days) is going to make you go insane. Not to mention, incessant worrying will only cause your cortisol levels to rise and cause you to inadvertently stress eat and drink - all of which are self-sabotaging behaviors!

So, during the holiday season, keeping an open mind about your ever-changing routine is one of the biggest keys to success. Sometimes, when we are so caught up in our daily or weekly routine, we forget to allow for a bit of spontaneity. So when it does finally pop up, we struggle with how to fit that in. In this case, the holidays represent a lot of spontaneity - changes in routine, diet, and exercise patterns - so we need to be flexible. But how do we do that?

Plan the Time

This seems obvious, but it’s important. I talked briefly on the idea of scheduling a time to get away, or scheduling a workout, in my blog post - “Making Your Personal Fitness a Priority” - but it is even more important during the holidays. Since the scheduling of our normal routine is so skewed, it’s even more important to make yourself a routine.

This is where the idea of being flexible comes in. Maybe you consistently work out in the mornings in your normal routine. It might simply not be an option to do that over the holidays. That’s ok! But, if you can simply find time to set aside 30 minutes or an hour, it will go a long ways in making yourself accountable!

Plus, let’s be honest - we all need a bit of a break from our relatives!

Plan a workout & Bring a friend

If you’re traveling and staying in a hotel room, see if there is a gym before you book. If there is, what type of equipment does it have? If you have investigated the equipment before booking, you’ll be able to find workouts online (or create them!) based on the equipment that you have access to. This means that you have no excuse not to get a workout in wherever you are staying. Planning your workout ahead of time also gets you into the mindset that this is something that you will do while you’re away. If you’ve already committed to the idea of going down to the gym in your mind, it’s much easier to make that a reality. Failure to plan is planning to fail, after all!

It also doesn’t have to be a workout in the same standards as what you usually do at home. If there’s a nearby park, go for a long walk. Consider recruiting friends and family and breaking them out of their usual routines as well. Anything that you can do to stay active or engaged during this time is important!

Bring equipment with you (If you can!)

If you don’t have a gym - that’s no problem, either! There are readily available body weight workouts that you can do in the comfort of your hotel room or at an Airbnb. One of my personal favorite items to bring along is a mini band - it’s tiny, can be rolled up in a pocket or a shoe, and it packs a serious punch!

If you’re like me, you can always always bring a pair of running shoes! There are endless places to walk, hike, or run. One of my favorite ways to explore the city is on foot and I think that getting in a scenic run is not only soul-cleansing, but relaxing as well! Not to mention, you might come across something that you would like to do that you would have otherwise missed!

Be realistic

At the end of the day, your plan and motivation to work out has to come from within. If you’re not committed to making a goal happen, you’ll find excuses and reasons to use this as a time to avoid exercise. But, be both realistic and opportunistic during the holiday season! Accept the stresses and frustrations of routine change. But, let those challenges provide the opportunity to expand your fitness horizons! This might be a time to experiment with taking a new class or trying a different time of the day to workout.

As with all things, if you can set yourself up for success, you’ll find it much easier to take the first step out of the doorway.

How do you stay active and fit during the holiday season?