How to Stay Fit During the Holidays

Office Yoga Staying Fit During Holidays

When I was a personal trainer, the holidays were always the calm before the storm. My colleagues and I would patiently wait, enjoying a light schedule before the New Year’s rush. It seemed most people gave up on their workout routines at that time of year. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Staying fit during the holidays can be a challenge, but it’s doable with a bit of planning and commitment. Here are ten strategies on how to stay fit during the holidays.

1. Schedule Workouts. Plan your exercise routine in advance. Whether you’re hitting the gym, doing yoga at home, or going for a run, scheduling your workouts makes it more likely you’ll stick to them. Working out in the morning is recommended. Random tasks or unforeseen events are more likely to throw your afternoon or evening workout off. Don’t worry so much about the duration or level of difficulty, and don’t compare it to other workout schedules. Getting some exercise, easy or hard, keeps the momentum going into the new year and beyond. 

2. Involve Family and Friends. Your high school friend is in town for the holidays. Instead of meeting them at the bar, ask them if they want to go for a walk (before going to the bar!). Encourage friends and family to join you in physical activities whenever possible. Something as simple as walking after Christmas dinner can go a long way. Organize neighborhood strolls, play outdoor games, or engage in activities that get everyone moving.

Notebook taking notes

3. Be Flexible. With colder days and longer nights, the urge to hibernate is strong. If your usual workout routine isn’t feasible due to holiday changes, try shorter, high-intensity workouts or break your exercise into smaller sessions throughout the day. Don’t compare what you do during the holidays with your other workouts. The holidays are different times, and they require different ways of exercising. Here are some ideas for practicing yoga at home

4. Plan Active Outings. Look for opportunities to stay active during the day. Take the stairs, walk instead of driving for shorter distances, offer to take the family dog for a walk, or volunteer to help with tasks that involve physical movement. Being outside when it’s crisp and cold can energize you. Nature is also a de-stressor, and stress can contribute to weight gain.

5. Don’t skip meals. If you know you have a big dinner event with lots of tempting food coming up, it might seem like a good idea to skip lunch and “make more room” for the evening’s treats. Don’t do it! This throws your body into starvation mode. Your hunger and satisfaction cues are thrown off, and your body holds onto the calories. If you’re traveling, bring healthy snacks to avoid nutritionally disastrous (and expensive!) airport or rest-stop foods.

6. Mindful Eating. Enjoy holiday treats, but practice moderation. If you stay in the kitchen or near the buffet table, it’s easy to keep taking bites. Move your conversations out of the kitchen. If mealtime is over and food is still on the table, pack up the leftovers immediately to freeze or send home. Be mindful of portion sizes and balance indulgent items with healthier choices. Choose vegetables and more raw, grilled, and baked versions of dishes, and less of the gravy and heavy sauces. Opt for leaner meats and proteins that are broiled, baked, and grilled vs. fried or breaded. Also, make allowances for your favorites. If there are “once a year” family traditions, allow yourself to enjoy them without shame or guilt. 

7. Stay Hydrated.  Mindful hydration can help control hunger and combat stress. Oftentimes, when we think we’re hungry, we’re just thirsty. Understanding “Am I hungry, or am I thirsty?” is an honest mindfulness practice. Drink water to minimize unnecessary eating and keep your energy levels up. More energy will make it easier to stick to your fitness routine. 

Holiday Sleep

8. Manage Stress. Holidays can be stressful, and stress can impact your fitness routine. Exercising regularly and staying hydrated will help combat stress levels. Weave in stress-relief techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to stay calm and focused. Here’s a great holiday yoga sequence to try. 

9. Prioritize Sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial for recovery and overall well-being. Less sleep means less energy. With less energy, we are more likely to skip workouts and turn toward comfort foods. Aim for healthy sleep habits each night to support your fitness efforts and mental health.

10. Set Realistic Goals. Be realistic about what you can achieve during the holidays. When it comes to weight gain or anything related to our health, we can overestimate what will happen in a 4-6 week period and underestimate the power of committing to a long-term healthy lifestyle. Keep things in perspective, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and celebrate small victories.

Remember, the key is consistency rather than perfection. Embrace the holiday spirit, enjoy the festivities, and find a balance that allows you to stay active while still savoring the season.

Office Yoga offers virtual meditation, desk yoga, and office yoga flow classes to large corporationsB Corps, and individuals. You’re welcome to join us; we would love to have you!

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