I remember surviving December last year.
The dog got into a whole batch of cookie dough (presumably left high enough on the counter to be out of reach) and put on 24-hr watch, just in case something didn’t sit right.
The relatives who were supposed to be coming for Christmas dinner were starting to argue about who would bring what to eat.
Somehow I managed to keep my cool.
And people are often surprised to know that during a stressful time like this – even I, a health professional, have to remind myself to stay disciplined with my workout routine.
I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t get to work out, I get grumpy. Really grumpy. Considering all the other stuff going on (family gatherings, Christmas parties, decorating the house, etc.), I figured I’d better make sure I fit it in. I mean, who wants to be grumpy around the holidays?
So here are some of my strategies for “fitting fitness in”, even during the busiest times of the year.
1) Evaluate your fitness goals. What is absolutely necessary for you to feel like you accomplished something, and what can you let go occasionally?
Remember: the habit is more important than the intensity. This means that even just doing five minutes and then running out the door is more important than skipping your workout entirely. Seriously. You’ll feel much better about yourself if you do something rather than nothing. And chances are you’ll have the opportunity to do multiple five minute exercises throughout the day, which can equal 30 minutes.
2) Think about all the times each day when you’re waiting. Waiting in the car to pick up the kids. Waiting for the soup to boil on the stove. Waiting for the shower water to warm up. Waiting for the water in the microwave to heat up so you can have that cup of tea.
Those moments of waiting are perfect for “quick fitness”. Do some squats. Do some pushups, even if it’s just against the counter. Stretch. Get out of the car and either jog in place or run some laps around the car. You could even run laps around the outside of your house (don’t judge till you try it; I’ve done it). Throw on some music and dance while you’re cooking.
3) Remember the usual everyday fitness boosters. Like parking at the far end of the parking lot. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Talking on the phone while standing, not sitting. Bracing your abs while sitting at a red light. Doing a wall sit while brushing your teeth. Doing 10 crunches before getting out of bed in the morning. Taking the dog for an extra-long walk (go ahead and tire him out! You’ll be glad later on when he’s too pooped to steal your cookie dough.)
4) Make the most of household chores and turn up the fun music! Vacuum vigorously. Sweep with big motions. Run up and down the stairs a few times when putting away groceries or the laundry. Scrub tubs and floors in rhythm to the music. Aim to do anything you can to elevate your heart rate.
5) If possible in your work environment, hold walking meetings. In other words, instead of meeting in a conference room, meet at the door and go for a walk.
6) When you catch yourself wasting time online (Facebook, Instagram, whatever), penalize yourself by doing a plank. Either you’ll get a lot more done (because you don’t waste as much time) or you’ll get a much better plank! No able to do planks? Choose another basic exercise to do like jumping jacks or squats.
7) Challenge your friends to see who can fit in more fitness each week. Make a game out of it, including a great prize for the winner at the expense of everyone else, and you’ll be amazed at how much more time you find to fit fitness in! Studies have shown that competition is a great motivator when it comes to exercise.
8) Limit portions of the naughty foods. We all know there are foods around the holidays that we should avoid: cookies, pies, alcohol, starches. The key with these is eating in moderation. And when you know something like a Christmas party is coming up, making sure you’re eating a little healthier in the meals surrounding it.
Even though the December holiday times can feel rushed and stressful, you can actually find small pockets of time to do some type of activity. The most important thing is to stay in the habit and not let the ‘holiday hustle’ take control. When you make sure you get some exercise every day, you’ll be more prepared to greet your guests with a smile and stave off the grumpiness!
So, what are you planning to do for the holidays to make sure you keep up with your fitness?