How to stay fit and motivated during the holiday season

As much as I dislike the cold weather, I have to admit I love the first couple of snow falls and especially the holiday season—snow glistening off heavy tree branches and Christmas lights illuminating the night sky as they dangle from rooftops. I love how people seem happier (admittedly not always as many of us can also feel the stress of money and other things, like our diet, during this season), how a fireplace warms the house, Christmas music (oh how I love Christmas music!), Christmas movies!, buying presents for loved ones and friends, cookies—yum! (stay tuned for a recipe), and most of all spending time with family. And although I love this time of year, it can (if we let it) wreck havoc on our healthy lifestyle. Christmas cookiesHere’s the good news, you can enjoy the holidays while still maintaining your workout routine and healthy lifestyle. I’m a huge believer of everything in moderation. If you want one cookie (notice I said one and not the whole platter, or a sample of each kind of cookie, nope not even a bite of each kind either), eat one cookie. This isn’t going to derail your entire diet. It’s the downward spiral that follows that will. To help you stay fit and motivated this holiday season I’ve complied a few helpful tips:

  1. Track what you eat. Having a food diary during this time of year is crucial in keeping your eating and indulging in check. You will be amazed at the power and effectiveness on your diet knowing you have to write down all that you eat in a day. We don’t like to admit to ourselves that we ate six cookies. I like the pen and paper journal method, but there are many food journal apps too.
  2. Politely decline that cookie platter. Yes eating one cookie is okay, but if someone wants to give you a platter to take home, just say no. Unless you have extraordinary willpower like that of a God, chances are you’ll pick away at that plate and sabotage your diet.
  3. Schedule and commit to your exercise routine. Hopefully you already have an exercise routine that you follow. This is the time of year to make sure you stick with it. And yes, it’s totally acceptable to use the line “Sorry I can’t. I have plans with my gym.”
  4. Sign up for a race. Holiday races, like a Jingle Bell Shuffle 10k, are a fun way to keep you running and motivated with an end goal in sight. This ensures that you commit to running.
  5. Get creative. This time of year is a perfect for cross training. Cross training gives you variety, which helps you stay motivated. If you will be traveling a lot this holiday season look into local gym offers—discounts for guests or a free week trial. If the gym isn’t an option and the outdoors is too frigid, download a workout, grab a workout DVD, or buy a fitness magazine that has examples of at home exercises.

The key is to set yourself up for success. Plan ahead, track what you eat, and be creative. Don’t consume yourself with guilt if you do indulge a little more than you planned or didn’t get in a workout that you scheduled. This will only lead to further destruction of your healthy routine. Be flexible and refocus on your goals the next day. Most of all, be merry. Happy holiday season!View from bike trainer: CocoThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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