Holiday Fitness Struggles: How to Stay Fit through the Holidays

santa figurine and measuring tape

It’s that time of year again. You’re trying to bring the clan together but keep your own life on track.  There’s a lot to think about: time off work, coordinating dates to accommodate crazy schedules, booking travel, figuring out childcare for that problem week between Christmas and the New Year—the stress can be a bit much. Not only are your family members bugging you to make things happen, but you’ve also got work, school, and neighborhood parties to think about.

Joy to the world!

The holidays are amazing—but stressful. These days, families tend to be spread far and wide, so getting everyone in the same place for even a couple of days can be a real treat. It’s a time of year to be grateful for everything we have and everything we hold dear. It’s a time to rejuvenate, recharge, and reconnect with the important things in life: family, friends, laughter, and delicious food. With all this going on, many of us struggle to maintain our healthy routines. Food intake goes up; workout time goes down. It’s nobody’s fault. We all get smacked in the face with mental, physical, and emotional pressure. The increased demand on our personal time and energy conspires to knock us off our fitness track.

This year, let’s remember the adage:

“Praemonitus, praemunitus

What? Don’t remember your high school Latin? Okay, we’ll cut you some slack:

Forewarned is forearmed”

This year, we want you to use your knowledge to keep the following three holiday pitfalls from derailing your regular fitness routine:

Parties, Events, and Gatherings

Priorities shift. Your days burst at the seams with essential holiday errands. You pick out presents, attend holiday recitals, and load up on groceries the weekend-long family gathering—which includes those hungry, hungry, hungry teenage cousins. You stay out late at the neighborhood block party and drink an extra glass of holiday cheer. No way you spring out of bed first thing the next morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, psyched to knock out your 6:00 am workout.

The struggle is real. We don’t question that. But you can overcome all these barriers with one tactic: planning.

Personal accountability is the cornerstone of a successful holiday weight control plan. A study published in Journal of Health Psychology way back in 1999 showed consistent self-monitoring makes a significant difference, especially during the two weeks around Christmas and the New Year. The study included two groups of people who’d successfully lost thirty-three pounds and wanted to manage their weight through the holidays. One group received daily phone calls and mailings to keep them on track, and the other group did not. Guess which group managed weight better? The group who got the reminders maintained their weight and lost an average of 2 pounds over the holidays.

After accountability, timing is the next crucial element of a good holiday fitness/weight control plan. To beat the holiday hustle, set specific times for your workouts and stick to them. Don’t let the million and one excuses that pop into your head derail you. Define the what, when, where, and how of your workouts. Think it through and make sure your plan is realistic. It may take some creative shuffling, but the sooner you start planning, the better the outcome will be.

Tired, Groggy, and Jet Lagged

Flexibility is key. You’ll need to adjust your routine during December. Be ready. Too often, we get stuck thinking we need to work out a certain way for a certain time. Break out of that trap. Learn to tailor your workout to your energy level. There’s no point in planning a super high-intensity workout after an eight-hour drive or a long day airport hopping. Stay intuitive and think of it as a challenge. Find ways to have fun with the energy and time available.

Combat tiredness, listlessness, and lack of energy with movement. To get energy, you have to give energy—you know that. Low intensity workouts are the best bet for this time of year. Use aerobic work to promote fat burning and reduce stress. Aim for thirty minute walks at your maximum aerobic function (MAF) first thing in the morning three days a week. Create short and simple travel workouts for the off-days. Start by picking two bodyweight exercises (one lower and one upper body) and commit to doing ten repetitions every two minutes as you walk around the block. That comes out to fifty reps for each exercise in just twenty minutes—a good workout in anybody’s book.

Creativity is the key. Don’t be rigid. Try not to hold on to your favorite routines with white knuckles—you’ll get back to them when the hubbub dies down. Don’t be so set in your ways you can’t change things up for a month. We promise you won’t ruin yourself by doing things a little bit differently for short periods of time.

What You Eat Impacts Your Workout

How do you feel when you overindulge on the holiday cookies? What about the extra two or three cocktails at the company party? Your nutrition choices change your workout. During the holidays, food quality should be your number one concern.

To make maintaining and losing weight easier, you must improve your insulin sensitivity. Insulin regulates our blood sugar levels and carbohydrate metabolism. When we choose high-carb, low-quality foods, insulin stops working properly and the fat releasing hormone glucagon can no longer do its job. Combine the wrong foods with less exercise time, and your path to peak wellness will be seriously impaired.

Make the connection with what you eat and the energy it provides. If you can do that, then food won’t stand in the way of your fitness. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity demonstrated the intake of a particular fatty acid—conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)—reduced body weight over a six-month period, prevented weight gain during the holidays, and get this: it also reduced negative emotions. You can find this fatty acid in high quality beef, milk, and eggs. Regulate your intake, and you’ll be rip-roaring ready to workout.

The Skyterra Difference

We can sum up the holidays in two words: excitement and stress. We all love spending time with family and going to parties, but it’s easy to lose sight of priorities we establish throughout the rest of the year. If health and fitness are important parts of your life, you don’t have to let them go during the holiday season. If you’re not sure how to stay healthy and fit inside all the craziness, we can help. Skyterra is the perfect place to come to rebuild your fitness during or after the holidays. We design flexible, fun, individualized fitness plans that meet your specific schedule, goals, and lifestyle. Dive into our program before everything gets rolling—it might just be the mental, physical, and spiritual kick-start you need. Join us for a weekend, join us for a week, or take the plunge and join us for two weeks—we promise it will make all the difference.