What’s Your Fitness Plan For The Holidays?
Do you have a plan for the holidays? With Halloween just behind us, the holiday season has begun! For a lot of people this is the most damaging time of year for their fitness and their waist line. It’s a time filled with temptations of all kinds of special holiday treats we don’t see the rest of the year. So, it’s easier than ever to make a lot of bad choices.
But what if you could get through the holidays without gaining any weight? What if you could even lose weight between now and New Year’s?
The first step is making the decision that you’re not going to let the holidays put you in the red with your fitness goals. Decision means commitment. It means you have made a definitive choice to put your health and fitness ahead of all your excuses.
This doesn’t mean you always have to be super strict and deprive yourself while everyone else is celebrating and indulging. What it does mean is that you need to have a plan. You need to know what your rules are and then you need to stick to them.
For example, if you decide that you’re only going to have two drinks at Thanksgiving dinner then that’s it. There is no three. It’s non-negotiable. So, when that choice comes around you don’t have to think about it. The decision is made. This is a tremendous help to your willpower and it can get you through stressful, hectic times making good choices with surprisingly little effort.
Set yourself some ground rules to go with any decisions that might come up. What will you do if you want to skip a workout? What if you want to stay up later than you should in order to get enough sleep? How will you handle all the offers of sugary treats at work, at parties, at grandma’s?
And don’t worry if this all seems too structured and restrictive right now. The holidays can be a really intense time and you’re simply responding by being ready for it. After the holidays are over you can re-evaluate and adjust your plan as needed. Although, by January, you may find that some of these things have become habits you won’t want to let go of because they’ve actually made your life easier.
Systems for Success
Now you need the right tools and systems to succeed. You’ll want a workout program and a meal plan. You’ll also want to have plans for getting enough sleep and for dealing with stress.
Find a workout program that works. There are several options. You can work with a trainer who will design custom programs for you and tell you exactly which workout to do each day. There are online programs, like the ones at Beachbody On Demand (affiliate link), that give you a workout schedule to follow. Of course you can always piece together workout videos on YouTube or classes at your local gym. If you go the local gym option, be sure to have a backup plan. Classes can get cancelled and the holiday schedules may make it hard to be consistent.
Get into a routine with your nutrition. Whether that’s meal prepping on the weekends or simply planning out the week’s meals and grocery shopping to have all the ingredients ready. My approach is to eat the same breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week (or longer). It makes eating right super simple and it ties back to the idea of reducing the need to make decisions which depletes your willpower. If you need more variety then choose a rotation of a few options to keep it interesting. If you’re not sure how to put a healthy meal plan together… here are some simple guidelines…
- No added sugar
- Avoid processed food
- No alcohol
- Little or no dairy
- Little or no grains
- Eat lots of vegetables
- Watch your portion sizes and daily calories
…And of course, remember to hydrate. It’s easy to forget when we’re stressed and busy and it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. So, make water your go to before reaching for a snack. Stick to these guidelines most of the time (think 80/20 rule) and you’ll be doing well.
Next up is sleep. Getting enough quality sleep is critical to your health and fitness and to weight loss. Remember those ground rules I mentioned? Set up some rules around your sleep habits and commit! Figure out what time you have to be up in the morning and set your bedtime 8 hours prior to that. Make it a non-negotiable. In bed, lights out at the scheduled time. This will make a huge difference in your quality of life, your energy, your appearance and your health.
Last but not least is stress management. Two things. First, pick up a daily meditation habit. You can start with just 5 minutes a day. Set a timer close your eyes, sit quietly and do your best to focus on your breathing. That’s it. Second, learn a meditation technique that you can do anywhere anytime to help you manage stress as needed throughout your day. Here is an introduction to to something called One-Minute Meditation that you might find helpful.
Putting It All Together
I know that most of this is advice you’ve heard before, but that’s the point. There’s no magic pill or secret formula. Creating a solid foundation is the key. Buckle down on the basics and build those core habits. While you’re at it try to notice all the ways you feel better than you normally would this time of year. Notice that you feel calmer, more rested, lighter. Taking care of yourself makes the rest of the world a lot easier to handle.
Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season!