The countdown to the end of the year is well underway. Even as you try to squeeze in just a little more progress toward fulfilling your 2020 New Year’s resolution, however, you may find yourself being tempted left and right by everything the holidays have to offer. From boozy holiday happy hours and festive family parties to unlimited access to sweet holiday treats, the final weeks of the year are a metaphorical minefield of challenges that can trip you up in your quest to stay fit.
There’s no secret to staying fit and healthy. The truth is it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, the holiday season has a way of wearing down your resolve. Before you know it, you’ve gone back to the buffet table for seconds (or thirds) and you’ve downed three glasses of eggnog.
Staying fit during the holidays can be a challenge, but a little preparation goes a long way. Here are some simple tips to help you stay fit and healthy throughout the holiday season and into the new year.
Stick to your workout routine (or make adjustments)
Staying active is the key to maintaining your physical fitness, but it can be a challenge during the holidays. It’s cold outside, you’re exhausted from all the holiday planning, and your gym’s hours have changed (if it’s even open at all). Now is the perfect time to adjust your routine to inject a little energy into your workouts. Try an at-home fitness plan or join a virtual group fitness class. It might even be best to give your body a bit of a break from the gym and keep it simple with a daily walk or jog.
Find new ways to motivate yourself
Once you’ve committed to a workout plan, all you have to do is stick to it. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. When the chaos of the holidays really starts to settle in, you may find you simply don’t have the energy to power through a workout after spending budgeting for gifts, organizing holiday parties, or making travel plans. Find a way to motivate yourself when times get tough, even if it’s something silly. Buy a new pair of workout leggings, create an energizing playlist, or stock up on fruit to blend with your favorite protein or collagen supplement for your post-workout recovery shake.
Keep your mental health in balance
Even as you’re working to improve your physical health, it’s important to focus on your mental health as well. The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they can be stressful as well. Make self-care a priority and learn to recognize your limits – it’s okay to say no! You may find it helpful to establish a nighttime routine to wind down at the end of the day. Spend thirty minutes reading or simply relax with a cup of calming tea in front of the fire. Give your mind time to settle down before you go to bed, so you get a good night’s sleep and have the energy you need to power through the next day.
Try to exercise in the morning
Even if you’re not a morning person, you’ll be glad you got your workout over and done with at the start of the day. Working out in the morning means you don’t have to sacrifice holiday festivities to squeeze it in later. If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, set your coffeemaker to start automatically 20 minutes before your alarm goes off so you can go from covers to coffee in an instant. Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each morning or extend the workout to 45 minutes on days when you have the energy. Find a podcast, playlist, or TV show you enjoy to make the mornings more bearable.
Fuel your body with healthy nutrition
The holidays are a time of tradition and many traditions take the form of food. Even as you enjoy holiday favorites like roast beef with gravy, gingerbread cookies, and spiked eggnog, make sure you’re giving your body the nutrition it needs. Choose healthy foods when possible, loading up your plate with protein, veggies, and whole grains before heading back for dessert. If you’re heading to a holiday party, have a healthy snack before you go so you won’t be so hungry when you get there.
Be mindful of calorie intake (especially alcohol)
Moderation is the key to enjoying all the holidays have to offer without throwing your health and fitness goals out the window. Take small servings at the buffet table to ensure you get a taste of everything without eating a whole day’s worth of calories in one meal. Be particularly mindful of alcoholic beverages because they’re full of empty calories. Maybe sip on a glass of red wine instead of a mug of spiked eggnog or forego the alcohol altogether and go for a glass of club soda with lime.
Burn extra calories with seasonal activities
Squeeze as much holiday fun into the season as possible without giving up on your goals by turning seasonal activities into workouts. Skating, sledding, and even burn more calories than you may realize. If you’re struggling to stay motivated with your workouts or simply looking for a way to shake things up, grab a friend and spend the afternoon at the skating rink. Try to include a seasonal activity each week to add variety to your workout routine while making the most of the holiday season.
Being healthy is as much a mindset as anything else, and you have the power to make choices that either support your health or detract from it. There’s no reason you can’t take part in holiday festivities AND stay true to your health and fitness goals, even if it means tweaking those goals to make them a little more manageable. Start with these simple tips and stay strong. Happy holidays!