It might be too early for some, but let’s be honest, we’re kinda used to the end Halloween signalling the beginning of the Holiday season. At this time of year, I dunno about you, but it’s not easy to hold back, right? Eating anything you want, anytime you fancy! Usually though, I take solace in the fact that I have actually still been training regularly. It is hard to stay motivated though, so I thought I would reach out to some friends to find out what their strategies were for staying on track with their fitness over the holidays.
Here are some ways to stay active over the holidays…
1. Make It Fun
With the holidays comes more and more social engagements so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to nail every single workout. But the ones you do? You have to make them fun!
Sometimes we can become a little too focused on “eating clean” and avoid treats etc. As Tess, of FitBits told me, “It’s Christmas, and Christmas is for indulging! Just be consistent as you can and get outside for a run, walk or ride when you can. I *LOVE* my Christmas day run, it’s always a bitterly cold, crisp winter’s day – and the post-run reward of Christmas dinner, chocolate and booze is more than worth it!”.
2. Make Workouts Short & Sweet
You don’t need to spend 90 minutes down the gym. Not now, not ever really. If you put maximum effort into what workout you choose and focus on great technique then something is always going to be better than nothing. I did a simple 20 minute beginners cardio workout using Fiit and my mobile phone the other day and I could feel it for days afterwards!
“The Christmas holidays are usually quite busy for most of us socially speaking, so it can be really tricky to fit in a proper workout/run. So my key advice is to do streaks – short but intense workouts that really get your heart pumping. 15-20 minutes a day could help people keep their fitness levels up! Doing a little but frequently is easily manageable and is more than doing nothing at all- every little helps. It could be a dash around the block or a HIIT style home workout whilst the turkey is cooking.” Timea (of Train Strong, Live Strong)
Here is some quick workout inspiration for you on the blog:
- QUICK & SIMPELLE WORKOUT #1
- 30 MINUTE TABATA WORKOUTS YOU CAN DO AT HOME
- TOO BUSY TO EXERCISE? NOT WITH A 10 MINUTE WORKOUT!
3. Earn Your Dinner
Now I don’t want you think that I’m advocating counting calories and aiming to burn them off with exercise. I’m probably more saying that we should be mindful of keeping some balance especially at this time of year.
Helen (HelsBels) suggests that we “Go to Christmas day parkrun! It’s free, it’s fun and it’ll give you loads of energy for the rest of the day plus you’ll really enjoy that Christmas dinner after”
Lucky for me, my local ParkRun has run events on Christmas and New Years Day the last couple of years. It’s a great way to start these notoriously inactive festive days and then get down to business… i.e eating and enjoying some time with family and friends. And have you noticed how much better food tastes when you have worked up an appetite?!
4. Drink Plenty Of Water
Now this is good advice! I heard somewhere, back in the day, that we often confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger. This means we will often seek out food and eat, when in fact we just need to have a drink!
“It’ll help you feel fuller so you’re not as tempted to eat lots of holiday treats!” Laura of Fat 2 Fit told me. “And if you do want to have a treat just be mindful… eat because you’re hungry and not just because it’s there!”.
I start every day with a glass of water before breakfast; it was a small change I introduced in the hope of it becoming a good habit (which it now is). As well as aiding with hunger, it’s also crucial for hydration as we can often forget about consuming water in the colder months.
5. Workout With Friends
Get social and schedule some of your catch ups over the holidays as workouts. It’ll also act as a bit of accountability too.
Johanna told me… “In terms of workout I schedule sessions with a partner as they are less likely to be cancelled”. This was the main reason for me starting my Winter Run Club back in 2016. For me, it served as a chance to socialise and also ensured that I showed up once per week and actually run!
Bex (The Art of Healthy Living) suggested that we “Get the family involved! Hikes in the countryside, geocaching – sooo good, especially for kids, treasure hunts, fun runs with kids. The key is to make it fun so it doesn’t feel like you’re forcing yourself into exercise. Fresh air is proven to increase those feel good endorphins and when you’re happy you’re far less likely to emotionally eat or to grab all that naughty stuff.”
6. Commit To A Challenge
For me a challenge is either hot or miss. But I guess if it’s the right one, it will work?Hayley (Break The Loop) told me “I always join in with a virtual challenge, something like Strava’s Festive 500… You bike 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve… It has to be outside so it can be a bit brutal but I certainly don’t feel guilty about over indulging over Christmas AND I know I’m starting the New Year with loads of miles in my legs!”
The Festive 500 has been on my radar for years but typically, my bike ends up going into hibernation over the winter! This year has been a bit different as I’ve been riding the Liv Brava SLR which is made for cyclocross and gravel so I’ve been out a fair bit more than usual.
Virtual Challenge: Run Up To Christmas (RU2C)
RU2C is a virtual run challenge from Run Things which is now in its third year. Personally, I’m not a fan of challenges that make you exercise everyday but this one, you get to pick your own end goal and fit it in whenever, wherever you can. The money raised from entries and optional sponsorship also goes towards boosting Run Things’ support of the MIND charity.
Runners have from December 1st to Christmas Day to run as many miles as they want. There are five milestones to aim for: 50km, 100km, 150km, 200km or 250km. People can set out to run their chosen distance alone or buddy up with others to cover the miles as a team. Every runner who hits a milestone will get a festive medal on a lanyard showing the distance they achieved.
Your goal could be something for after the holidays too, like Mona (The Heavy Blog). She shared…. “My friend is having a massive engagement party in January so I’ve bought a dress for it and the goal is to fit into it comfortably by then!”.
7. Get it done early
As well as keeping your workouts short and sweet, getting them done at the start of your day is probably one of the best ways to keep on track.
Ellen (of Tale of Two Runs) suggested to “Get your workout or run in at the beginning of the day! Best thing I ever did was to convert to a morning runner/workout person. It runs my whole day and sets a very productive pace for me.”
I’m still working on being a morning person but the few times I have gotten my work out in before anything else, it feels kinda epic! If you need some help on coping with 5am alarms though, I have got your back.
How do you keep your fitness on track over the holidays and into the New Year?!