It’s that time of the year again. Grandma’s cookies, Christmas parties (don’t forget the drinks), missed workouts and the dreaded flu season. You’re running around getting ready for the holidays and preparing for family to make visits to town. During this time of the year, we struggle to find the right balance in our fitness and life. However, it’s important we take care of ourselves during this time and prioritize what is most important to us. Often, the holidays bring less time for training, lousy nutrition and sleep, and missing a workout seems like it will set you back light-years. But we can still stay consistent and move forward one step at a time with having multiple obligations! Here are some tips and tricks to still come out on top of your fitness goals and performances during the holiday season.
Stay Motivated When the Weather is Wintery
Don’t let the coldness, shorter days, and gloomy days affect your training, performance, and motivation. Unless you live in sunny Southern California (like me), there are ways to fight those urges to stay under the blankets. Learn how to properly layer for your workouts, depending on the weather conditions before heading outside. If you have an evening workout, plan ahead of time and set your clothes and/or gear out to minimize excuses when the time comes. Do your workout indoors with a turbo trainer, TRX bands, or body weight exercises to get a sweat in. Another helpful tip is to get a training buddy or join group sessions to achieve your fitness goals, stay motivated, and challenge yourself across different intensities.
It’s Not ‘All or Nothing’
Missing one (or a couple workouts) is okay! It’s okay to spend that extra time with family and friends. Try keeping your harder interval workouts and use your easy recovery days as actual rest days to free up time. It also might mean taking a long workout and cutting it down into a short one. The extra time you’re putting in at work, studying for finals, or travelling just means less time in fitness and training, not no time. There’s power in progress, even if it’s 1% at a time.
Take It Easy
With the holiday season, comes stress. Last minute Christmas shopping, cooking dinners, parties, colds or the flu, and others! This stress can directly impact your training and fitness levels if you can’t properly recover and can sometimes lead to injury. Give yourself a break and remember the “It’s not all or nothing” principle. Try these techniques to help you when you need it most.
Stop and Breathe! Stop what you’re doing and take 5 deep belly breaths. Sit up tall in a chair and breathe in through your nose for four seconds, and out through your mouth for six seconds. Just be in the present moment and breathe. It takes less than a minute! Recent studies show that deep belly breathing can reduce the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system and could enhance vagal activity (aka calming, lower HR, and relaxes muscles).
Try Meditation. There are plenty of create apps that actually help you to relax and meditate! No, I’m not talking about the legs crossed, candle burning, and humming “Oooooom”. I’m talking eyes closed and simply staying in the present moment. Try out Headspace or Calm. They can help reduce stress and anxiety, enhance sleep patterns, and relaxation.
Take a Nap! Regardless of what people say, power naps (or I like to call them Cat Naps) have tremendous health and performance benefits. Studies have shown a short episode of sleep (15-20 minutes) can increase productivity and learning, enhance performance, reduce fatigue, and improve working memory! Don’t have to tell me twice!
While it might seem difficult to get to that ‘perfect balance’ in life. Sometimes we must accept that we need to prioritize how we approach each day. We can change our mindset going into the holidays, and view it as a recharge and the break we deserve. With this mindset, we can live through the crazy and still make progress even if it’s 1% at a time.
The best is ahead,