With parties, shopping, travel and end-of-the-year responsibilities filling many peoples’ calendars this month, health and fitness pursuits often move further down their priority lists. Fortunately, you don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach to the holiday season, completely throwing in the towel on your health or denying yourself indulgence.
“Stick to [your plan],” Julie Bellis, group fitness manager for Equinox, says. “When you stick to it, reward yourself a bit. On Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, have that awesome cheat day whenever you need it because you’ve gotten through the entire season and can reward yourself. Work hard, play hard.”
Bellis recommends finding an accountability partner or friend who can come along with you to your workouts and your holiday parties to help keep you honest. She also suggests establishing a routine that you can maintain throughout the holidays to help keep your fitness in check.
“If you can believe in yourself and be strong for yourself, you’ll keep your routine going,” Bellis says. “Add your workouts to your calendar so you stick to them.”
Short, high-intensity training works particularly well when you have limited to time to exercise. Bellis says you can split up workouts into manageable amounts of time—20 minutes, for example—and perform two workouts at different times during the day, or stick to one, short workout filled with hard work to make the most of your time. You can also save your stretching and foam rolling for the evening if you don’t have time to do those after a workout as a way to help wind down from your day.
In addition to finding time to exercise, making healthy food choices during the holidays can prove challenging. The key, Bellis says, lies in setting yourself up for success to avoid going overboard and eating every available option at a holiday party, rather than denying yourself the opportunity to eat at all at the event.
“I always have some substantial, nutrient-dense food before I go,” Bellis says. “I prepare myself before I go to the party because I know I’m not going to overeat that way.”
Bellis recommends using daily goals to keep you motivated in the short term and reward yourself for accomplishing your goals in ways that don’t involve food, like buying yourself a product you’ve wanted for a long time.
“You need to wake up every day knowing that today is going to be a good day, and you’re going to get it done,” Bellis says. “Commit to it, do it and reward yourself.”