There are a number of excuses to not workout during the holiday season. It’s cold; there is too much good food; there is too much going on; snow is in the way, the list goes on. However, it is crucial to stay focused on a healthy lifestyle.
The holiday season falls in that sweet spot of the calendar year. The vast majority of outdoor events are over with almost nothing left to train for and it’s just before the first of the year resolutions.
“I think a lot of people want to stay committed through the holidays but just need that extra push,” Annette Fiscelli, co-owner of On Your Mark Training said. “It’s just about feeling good. Maybe you’ve had one or two too many parties. It’s just about keeping what you worked hard for all year and feeling good about yourself”
Mandee Miller, personal trainer and group fitness manager at Bucktown Athletic Club works with people all across the motivation scale. Miller gives her clients homework between sessions and can tell when they don’t take it seriously. In the end, only the person working out and his or her motivation can yield results.
While finding that first push is a great way to start, it takes more than that. Miller advises planning out a workout to make sure that you get the most out of it. “Haphazardly” going to the gym and grabbing weights isn’t nearly as helpful as specifically targeting workouts, Miller said.
On Your Mark does its best to not only motivate its clients to show up, but also keep them coming back during the holidays. Once again this year, On Your Mark will host its Holiday Challenge, asking those who sign up to take part in 30 fitness classes over the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The classes range from a grueling workout to a recovery stretch and everything in between. While On Your Mark offers a prize to those who make it through, the sense of community in the gym and the desire to get something out of a workout brings people back, Fiscelli said.
“If you’re going out in this weather to go to the gym, you want to get something out of it. They are a bunch of hard workers,” Fiscelli said.
Having goals, whether through a formal challenge or through your own choosing can make or break fitness success, especially during the holiday season. Miller said everyone needs to figure out his or her own goals and come up with a plan that best fits them. A younger, more active person who may want to maintain a certain level of fitness doesn’t need to plan as much as an older person who may want to lose weight, Miller said.
While a hard and fast dedication to healthy eating and living may be the best way to stay in shape during the holiday season, that commitment may not be realistic during this stretch. The single most important aid to anyone looking to stay healthy through the winter is also the easiest to incorporate: water.
“I always tell my clients, or anyone I come across in the gym, the best thing they can do is drink a ton of water,” Miller said. “When in doubt, have another glass. Water will keep you metabolizing. It will help you with feeling hungry and tired.”
Following water, those looking to stay healthy through the holidays also need to prioritize sleep. Miller said that even if you can’t get a full night sleep on one particular night, find opportunities to make that up and get some extra sleep another night. The combination of sleep, water, portion control and at least some regular activity should help anyone get through the holidays relatively unscathed.
Going to the gym and randomly grabbing weights may not be the right approach, but Miller said that almost any regular activity can be just fine. Working regularly with a trainer probably gets the best results, but is not an option for everyone. Finding a yoga or HIIT class to regularly go to can do the trick, or even just jumping online and finding a YouTube video or using one of the many fitness apps can be more than enough.
The average American gains two to three pounds during the holidays, Miller said, but with a little planning and dedication, it is possible to hold off the holiday craziness. Like anything, it’s important to handle everything with moderation, even healthy living.
“Of course you’re going to have cheat meals,” Miller said. “Just remember tomorrow is a new day and nobody is perfect.”