Category: The Holidays and Fitness

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Hustle and bustle! That’s usually what comes to mind with the holiday season and family obligations, work parties, and other social gatherings. This usually means less free time and lots of (tasty) foods and drinks. Maybe this is what sparks the desire in most people to start up a new exercise program in the New Year as a result of guilty feelings towards a month of poor eating and neglecting your healthy routines. Many gyms thrive on the unrealistic goals of the “resolutionists”, but the best ones remain steady throughout the year because they teach balance and not using shame to make you feel like you need to “exercise away” the holiday weight gain.

The #SVPTway isn’t about shame or guilt surrounding the holidays. True LONG TERM success is about recognizing the ebbs and flows of life and not feeling bad when you have less time to give to your healthy habits. The holidays are a time for maintenance, not for making gains in fitness. But hey, if you are making gains then keep it up. We are just saying that maintenance is AWESOME during this time of year. Just keep moving and get some exercise in where you can. Be attentive to what you’re putting in your body, but life is short (READ: eat the damn cake). While the New Year might inspire you to get back into routine and maybe work a bit harder, remember that getting back into things means that you’re going to need to ease in to avoid a burnout. Remember that setting sustainable goals will help you stick to your new routine. Hiring a certified, qualified trainer can help you learn how to set attainable goals and stay motivated as well as keep you accountable which usually means sticking to the plan for longer.

Tips for December training:
● Try to get in exercise where you can – not only will this help you keep your gains, but also relieve holiday stress, and give you a moment of YOU time
● Don’t be afraid to change it up if travel and time means you can’t do what you normally do – opt for outdoor activities, a new class, etc. – something is better than nothing
● Try to incorporate movement into family activities when you can – get everyone moving

Tips for January training:
● Ease into it – don’t go all out in the beginning
● Create SMART goals that are attainable and sustainable – just because its January 1st, doesn’t mean your life has miraculously changed and all of a sudden you can do more than what you could in 2019
● Stay away from trends and challenges
● Hire a trainer to keep you accountable and teach you how to be independent, after all, you don’t want to be making the SAME goals next year. Next year you should be hitting NEW ones!

T’is the Season for Maintenance

For many personal trainers, the month of December might be properly referred to as a “Maintenance Month.” December is typically filled with social obligations, and stress surrounding the holidays in general for clients.  Your regular routine and schedule goes out the window and all the holiday parties and gatherings mean you’re tempted to indulge in foods you otherwise would avoid and to also skip workouts.  As it is, committing to a regular nutrition and exercise schedule can be tough year round from life’s ups and downs, but the holidays in particular can exacerbate these stresses.

The holidays can bring about added stress from shopping, increased food preparation, house guests, frequent visitors, financial stress, more demands on time, and simply a change in schedule.  A change in routine, whether it is good or bad, equates to stress.  The biggest complaint personal trainers hear during this time of year is clients not being able to fit in workouts or stick to their nutrition regime, due to all the added obligations.

One of the reasons personal trainers and nutritionists really stress creating exercise and nutritional habits year round, is so when life happens, like the busy holiday season, the repercussions of missing a workout or indulging in holiday goodies will not set you back to square one.  In fact, if you are consistent  (not perfect) all year round, you might welcome the relaxed holiday season. Consistency year round allows you to have some time to just maintain, which might look a little more relaxed.

Let’s be clear — not being perfect does not make you a failure. All areas of our lives have ebbs and flows, which are necessary elements of life. The easiest way to understand this is using the term burnout. We all know what causes burnout – not enough balance and/or recovery. It’s ok to hammer away at something for a while, and it is just as ok to back off when you need to. And this might mean using the holiday season to do so.

Maintenance might be one of the least sexy words out there, but maintenance is about doing the little things in order to keep us at the same level, or not allow us to go backwards.  Just like life doesn’t need to be a continual march forward, neither does your fitness journey.  Sometimes we need to march in place when competing priorities are difficult to manage.  So you had to skip a few workouts for a social event or other holiday obligations? In the long run and the bigger picture of a year round commitment to a healthy lifestyle, this is inconsequential. Even 3 or 4 parties like this are not likely to affect your overall health if you are  maintaining a routine of health and fitness year round. Your batting average is still going to be high.   It also might be argued that a little break from your routine will help you appreciate it a little bit more when it comes time to get back into it.

So what does maintenance look like?  It’s just simply, marching in place, getting it done.  It can also be defined as keeping healthy and injury free, while not moving backwards – keeping status quo.  If you exercise 4-5 days a week in your regular routine, maintenance might look like 3 exercise sessions.  And should that get away from you, aiming to do any kind of movement for 30 minutes, regardless if it’s in your regime or not.  Any physical activity is better than nothing.  Walks, skiing, skating, etc. with the family are a great way to stay active.  You do what you need to do not go backwards and just maintain.  If you are not worried about maintenance during the holiday season, then use exercise as a great form of stress relief and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle.

This season the last thing you need is added stress.  Give yourself permission to maintain, do your best, and just enjoy the holiday season for all it has to offer.

 

Kristen Hansen, BA, CSEP-CPT, PFT-NAIT, NASM-CES, FRCms

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC