Fall is here! I think it was in the (high) fifties the other morning. Brrrrr! (Subtle San Diego brag) These frigid mornings make it a little harder to get going. Just before the holidays, when things really start to get out-of-control, waking for a morning run or gym session gets less and less appealing.
This is "hunker down" weather, made for watching movies and eating ice cream. I know, because I'm right there. Curse you Tillamook Rocky Road!
And this is just the beginning. The holidays tend to work against fitness goals, what with a frantic calendar of parties and traveling and the obligatory smorgasbord of delicious decadence. Why not? We think as we reach for another scone/bread roll/scoop of mashed potatoes/slab of peppermint bark.
Then, collectively, we decide to clean up our act for the New Year and the cycle continues...
As a strength coach/fitness professional, January is my busiest month and I’m not complaining but my goal is overall health so if I could suggest a few minor tweaks to your Holiday season, you may not end up flurrying to life on New Year's Day in a fitness panic.
1. Try for morning workouts - With daylight savings about to carve an hour of light from your afternoon, chances are you're not going to feel as inspired to hit the gym when you walk out of work and it's already dark. But daylight savings, in its graciousness, has given us an earlier morning. If you're like me, the early part of the day is more productive and the latter part is more… well, recumbent. If you can manage to shift your day an hour earlier, with the new daylight arrangement, you might be surprised how much better you feel and how much more you get done.
2. Take it outside - I know I just expounded on the torture of working out in this frigid weather. But if you can bring yourself to do it, you'll probably find you have more endurance. Cooler weather is great for running and cycling. And your body heats right up so you’ll only freeze for the first 5 minutes. ;)
3. Fill The Tank First – Chances are, you’ll be faced with some pretty tempting meal choices this season. Raspberry cheesecake, I see you over there calling to me. Luckily, most dinner parties or events have a veggie tray.
"Now, hold on!", you say. "If you're telling me to just eat carrot sticks..."
No no no. But when you know you're about to get in on that raspberry cheesecake, fill the tank first. Load up on the highest quality food you can find and then indulge, knowing that you're not as likely to OVER-indulge. Sometimes, once you’re not so hungry, the cheesecake craving will subside and you’ll pass on thirds (with the extra scoop of ice cream). But, keep your options open. Ya know, just in case.
4. Savor (and save) The Party - When I know I have a Friday evening party that promises to be a buffet of bad choices, I try to make better choices leading up to it. I work out a little harder and opt for cleaner eating throughout the week. That way, when Friday comes, I don’t feel guilt for the indulgence. Just to be clear, never in a million years would I advise or even jokingly suggest that someone can out train a broke down diet...but I live in the real world and sometimes, especially during the holidays, S&HT happens.
5. Indulge (ok here's the life coach bit) - You heard me! Enjoy it! By that, I’m not advocating going hog wild because ultimately, is that true joy? In the moment, maybe (but then again, so are a lot of things..wink, wink). But regret (and that gross over-full feeling) can take the thrill out of it. Because ultimately, if what you're doing doesn't align with your goals, it isn’t bringing you true happiness.
This time of year calls for a little balance. Give yourself permission to indulge on (and truly enjoying) that chocolate éclair, because it won’t kill you and you're balancing it out with exercise and an otherwise nutritious diet the other 80% of your week. 20% of the time, give yourself a break. Stress, not drinking enough water, and lack of sleep can cause weight gain just as easily as scarfing down that peppermint bark I mentioned earlier.
Besides, this time of year can be stressful. Time changes, weather changes, holidays, family gatherings, etc. all can throw us out of our routine and weigh on us (pun intended). Exercise and chocolate BOTH happen to be excellent stress relievers - keep both in your arsenal (in moderation)- that's just smart living. ;)