December may be the “most wonderful time of the year” but it is an absolute minefield when it comes to fitness goals. Spending the holidays with family and friends is a great way to recharge your batteries, relax, and enjoy the things in life that really matter, but it is easy to forget that your personal health is near the top of that list of important things. If you find yourself staying in a city you don’t normally live in and sleeping in a guest bed for days and days it is easy to fall out of your health routine. Be aware of these 5 pitfalls that go along with the holidays:
For the first trap of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a plate of delicious turkey. One of the best parts of the holidays is the food. No other time of the year promises such a string of amazing meals as the few glorious weeks we call December. With all the temptations you will face, it can be hard to show restraint. You might be tempted to throw caution to the wind and just indulge at this one time of year, but you will regret that decision come New Years Day. Enjoy your holiday meals, but don’t lose your mind. Seconds and thirds are a young person’s game.
2. Missing Workouts
The idea of opening presents, eating a big delicious holiday breakfast, and lacing up your shoes to go run 10 miles probably doesn’t jive with what you are planning for your time off. When you are busy traveling between relatives’ houses and catching up over glass after glass of egg nog it is easy to ignore your training schedule, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t lose progress. Think of all those hard miles you ran in November and all those days you spent at the gym. Every workout you miss belittles your efforts on those days. Carry a copy of your workout schedule around with you this holiday season, it’s harder to ignore something if you have a constant reminder in your pocket.
3. Sedentary Living
The holiday season is all about comfort. Warm sweaters and crackling fires and all that. Just makes you want to take a nap right now. Don’t fall into the trap. Once you get used to inactivity it gets very hard to break the habit. Spend your days helping in the kitchen or playing in the snow with the kids. Do whatever you need to in order to stay active. You may even feel jollier has a result.
There may be nothing on Earth that is simultaneously as wonderful and evil as a cookie. Cookies bring back memories of Christmas at grandparents houses. They take on shapes that make us smile and they taste like a sunbeam caught in a rainbow. They are also the devil incarnate. Nobody counts how many cookies they eat each Christmas despite the fact that we are nearly constantly surrounded with plates of near pure sugar. If you want to restrain yourself, pay attention to your snacking. Maybe even go as far as you keep a tally in a notebook of how many cookies you eat. People won’t think you’re so crazy when beach season rolls back around.
The final trap of the holidays doesn’t go away when you get back to work on January 2. It’s something you’ve likely been dealing with already and you have another 4 or 5 months to go, depending where you live. It is the weather. Whether you are forced to brave snow, ice, or just a lot of rain, winter is a tough time to stay active. No one likes to be uncomfortable, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. A trick I use is to channel all the really hardcore scenes from action movies where the hero is forced to fight his way through a blizzard or a monsoon and focus on that while I try to get a run in. Do whatever works for you, just don’t let bad weather be your excuse for laziness.
Knowing your enemy is half the battle. Stay aware of these potential pitfalls that go along with the holiday season and you will find that your fitness goals are intact and on track come January 1.