Many folks, across the globe, gain several pounds or more between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Excess caloric intake, combined with interruptions to the regular exercise routine, can make maintaining fitness a daunting task. In fact, research shows that as little as a one- or two-week interruption to regular exercise coupled with too much sedentary time can quickly result in lost fitness and declines in cardio-metabolic health (Dalleck, ACE 2016.)
Keep It Real…it happens!
Fortunately, there are solutions you can offer your clients to ensure they avoid these pitfalls. You don’t need to do a lot and you don’t need to have the mental fortitude of a super hero! Following are a number of strategies you or your clients can use to avoid detraining—aka getting miserably out of shape—maintain a healthy weight and keep cardio health and fitness throughout any holiday season or break from a “normal” routine.
How can we, as professionals, help our clients, athletes and group fitness participants navigate the holidays better? Or, from a fitness enthusiast’s standpoint, what can you do to avoid crashing your fitness program? All of us want to get the upper hand, from a health and fitness perspective, with regard to staying healthy and fit through what often seems like an interminably long holiday season—as it relates to staying fit and keeping the weight off.
Let’s jump right to the hacks!
Hack #1: Holi-DAY
‘Tis the season to recognize that it’s not the holi-years, or holi-months, but instead, a relatively short succession of –DAYs, or better yet, a single day! Change your mindset and don’t extend the pain. It’s 1-day! You won’t be perfect, nor do you have to wallow in self-defeating behavior. It’s simple. Stop the bleeding by getting back on your fitness and nutrition program sooner, rather than later. It’s okay to lose your mind (or, be human) and make some poor choices through the holidays. But, don’t go overboard. Don’t let “living a little” or “I deserve it!” derail your health, fitness and positive direction prior to, or during the “holidays!” So, in other words, lock down on the DAY, rather than the “season,” which is endless.
Hack #2: Work out to negate the booze and treats. Wrong.
Rather than focus on working off your sinful and weak behavior, why not change mindset (again). Instead, limit your poor choices and maintain a positive attitude where you have control over the holiday season. Otherwise, you’ll be inviting in an endless series of junk food days and not getting your exercise in! Please leave this cliché behind, really! Meaning, “I work out to eat.” Really? Not! And, do not work out hard to justify that it is ok to sabotage your goals. That does not make sense. Keep your guard up and define what you want to have, where you want to indulge, and be wise enough to draw some parameters. It doesn’t have to result in an all-or-none, “I have to be perfect.” Or, “Why try? It’s hopeless.” Create a plan of attack by giving your self some slack with regard to workouts and making it okay to have some fun with your diet. Just don’t plan in too much slack. Be conscious of your choices and lock in (Schedule it!) some time, any time, to get some type of activity in.
Hack #3: Etch your workout time in stone.
Workouts don’t happen by themselves. “It” takes thought, effort and discipline, especially during the busy holiday season. How do you hack this? Don’t expect you’ll be able to commit the same time to your workouts during in-holiday time periods. This is fact, so create workouts that are shorter and guarantee that you can “get them in” and be successful. Schedule your workouts with a friend or trainer, or commit to a small group training session. Repeat after me: “Something is better than nothing!” Regardless of workout length, it’s good for your mind, body, self-esteem and your health. Don’t let perfection or what you did before the holidays sabotage you. The perfect setup for failure is a desire for perfection!
Hack #4: Change your brain! Change your attitude!
Love the holidays. Love the busyness. Embrace your family and friends. Love the weather. Are we clear here? Don’t complain. Instead, exhibit grace, gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness, to name a few. Embrace the anxiety and time demands. You know it’s coming. Stop your mental suffering! Change your perspective and embrace the hack. #changeyourmindset
Hack #5: Start the New Year right, NOW.
Read hacks 1-4. #yougotthis #really #mindset Just like we tell our athletes at the end of a competitive season. Don’t let it ALL fall apart. Your new season just started!
Hack #6: Quick-Pic-6 Workout.
Make the time to do this workout! No equipment? No Time for The Gym. Crushed with to-dos? No worries. Following is your Quick-Pic-6 “Life/Health/Fitness-Saving” activity plan!
**After walking, do 2-rounds of each of the exercises, #’s 2-6 in order; get in 8-15 controlled repetitions or the suggested duration (#4 only). Keep it moving circuit-style the whole time! As you get more-fit, it’s okay to add a third round and/or increase your repetitions.
- Outdoor walk. A brisk 30-minute walk will save your fitness and your mind. You’ll feel better, burn some calories, and refresh your whole being. Man or woman cannot survive alone on cooking, washing dishes and wrapping presents. Make the time. Get out-of-doors if you can. Suck it up. Don’t be a buttercup. No whining. Rain, snow, heat, cold…whatever, are FUN!
- Push Up. Drop and push ‘em out. Yes, push-up, either from your knees or regular plank position, 15 total. Do them in sets of 5 if you have to, so you can hit the number. They don’t need to be consecutive right away, but complete the volume/total number of reps. (8-15 reps)
- Burpee. Start from a standing position, as though you’re holding a Slam Ball (use the ball if you have one); move your hands overhead and then forcefully, “slam the ball” into the ground or swing your arms toward the ground if you’re not holding a Slam Ball; hit a deep squat position by bending your ankles, knees and flexing your hips; don’t fold at the waist; pause at the bottom of the movement; place your hands on the floor or ground and walk or jump back to a straight or bent-knee position; walk or snap back into a standing position and repeat. Increase your speed once you groove the movement pattern. (8-15 reps).
- Star Plank-10 on/5 off. Set a good push-up/plank position. Hold plank position for 10 seconds. Give it all you have! Really turn on your quads, glutes, core and upper back. Breathe. After 10-seconds, drop to the floor, recover 5-seconds. Then, push back to plank and simultaneously reach out the opposing arm (R) and leg (L). Hold that position for 10 seconds. Max out the effort. Recover 5-seconds and repeat using the other arm/leg. For EACH round, repeat this cycle twice. (Total: six 10-second holds; six 5-second recoveries)
- Hip Thrust Bridge. Lie supine on the ground/floor, or sit on a box or bench and lower your hips off the edge, with your hands and arms remaining on top of the bench. Extend your hips fully in either position. Option: add external load such as Olympic bars/weights or bands. (8-15 reps)
- Box, Bench or Stair Step-Up. Go after this. Make it metabolic by getting your heart rate up, and more powerful by moving beyond stepping up, and transitioning to a propulsion power skip as you step/explode up. Save your body. If you can, step or explode onto the bench or box, but be sure to step off rather than jumping down to the floor or ground.
Hack #7: Come on. I got this. Believe it!
The Holiday Season, from a fitness and weight loss perspective, brings on a feeling of sheer terror for many people. Forget the hype, the fads, keep it real and implement these strategies with regard to keeping weight off and staying fit, as well as keeping your programs moving forward positively. You know the drill; you know what’s going to happen. Your mind and body cave in as the holidays approach. It is so easy to fall victim to becoming less active, more sedentary (catching up on 3 seasons of your favorite Netflix show in a 24-hour period) as the season closes in. And of course, it’s easy to eat more than you normally do. Many people put on weight, feel exhausted and get sick. It is a “perfect storm” for a total let down, and you’ll be thinking you “deserve” (the rest, food) but don’t buy into that. Don’t melt down, you’ll be better off if you implement a few strategies that keep you fit, healthy and your immune system strong. Oh, and SMILE, it works.
Get ready! Set! Hack the holidays!