From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, you’re frequently bombarded with decadent treats and hefty holiday meals. This paired with the fact that your schedule during this time of year tends to become a bit busier—making it more challenging to maintain a regular exercise routine—means that your health and fitness goals may get placed on the backburner. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure you stay committed to your goals while also enjoying everything the holiday season has to offer—including good food. I asked two fitness experts to share their best advice. Here’s what they had to say.
During this time of the year Lisa Corsello, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and the founder of Burn, a San Francisco based group fitness studio that incorporates Pilates, cardio and weights, recommends choosing an exercise routine that involves group fitness workouts or maybe even personal training sessions. “Choose something that requires an appointment, like a group fitness class, and treat it like you would any other commitment,” she said. “The simple act of putting your name on the list as a participant will help you stay accountable.”
“Register for an upcoming fitness event, like a walk or race, and ask friends to join you,” says Corsello. “Having something to train for will help you stay focused on a long-term goal.”
“Tell your family and friends about your goals. Stating our intentions to others makes us more likely to follow through with them,” says Corsello. “No need to give specifics and exact details, simply share that this season you're going to start walking, jogging or taking personal training sessions, or that you'll be reducing your sugar or alcohol intake.”
Corsello also recommends using social media as a way to share your goals, track your progress and have a little bit of fun with the whole process. “Take pictures or selfies after a workout or making a healthy dinner,” she said. “The night before a workout, tweet about it. Let your friends know your plans and you'll be likely to garner support and positivity. Going back through your posts will also remind you of your goals and progress.”
“Don’t deprive yourself,” says international nutritionist & wellness expert, Jessica Sepel. “You’ll only be frustrated and more likely to overeat later.” Instead, she recommends planning which extravagant holiday treat you’ll indulge in ahead of time, that way you can enjoy one thing you really love without going overboard. “Savor it mindfully,” she advises. “And if you splurge, move on. Don’t let it ruin your holiday. Focus on the real reason for the season.”
Sepel recommends eating a healthy, satiating snack before going to parties, that way you’ll be less likely to snack mindlessly or overeat at meal time. Another option she suggests is to create healthy versions of your favorite treats to bring along and share with everyone.
Remember that you don’t have to accept every holiday treat that comes your way. Practicing moderation by only indulging every now and then will help keep your nutrition and diet goals on track. “It’s OK to say no,” says Sepel. “Be confident and very politely say ‘no thanks.’” She also pointed out that you should never let a splurge lead to an out of control downward spiral. “Recommit to your healthy eating habits right away,” she said.
“Go into the ‘Stress Free Zone,’” says Sepel. “Spend at least ten minutes every day by yourself doing something that relaxes you. Switch off from email and social media at some point each day.” She also recommends taking up yoga. “The stressful holiday season is a good time to practice meditation and yoga,” she added.
Especially on days when you know you’re going to be busy, Sepel recommends getting your workout in early so you won’t have to worry about it later on. “It will help you feel focused in spite of craziness,” she said. “And staying in a routine will mean it’s not as hard to get back on track after the holidays—no need to make it a New Year’s resolution.”
Sepel points out that many holiday traditions can also double as exercise. Like power shopping, for example. “The mall is a great place to get cardio in,” she said. She also suggested participating in holiday fun run races and taking walks with your family after big holiday meals.