Staying Fit Through the Holidays

Fitness Through the Holidays - Tips on staying fit throughout the busy holiday season. Rebecca Mueller, MS, RD

As 2013 comes to a close we begin to eagerly anticipate what 2014 will bring. “Start the year off with a positive attitude and a rejuvenating lifestyle” will be what many health care professionals will be touting from now until the New Year. During the holidays, many of us fall out of our healthy routines, so tips on practical, healthy living around the holidays is always helpful. Since it can be difficult to balance the lingering holiday treats with the treadmill, here are some tips on how to stay fit throughout the busy holiday season…and beyond.

Take an honest inventory of your schedule. Instead of trying to fit exercise into your already busy calendar, plan for exercise time. The goal is not to attend as many holiday parties as possible; the goal is to spend quality time with your friends and family. One of the best ways to spend quality time with your loved ones is to be less stressed and fully present in every situation – prioritizing exercise will help with this. Try scheduling it in our datebook or iPhone.

Create a home workout routine. Let’s face it, you can’t always make it to the gym or go outside for your morning walk. Crunches, push-ups, jumping jacks, lunges, squats, light free weights, and stretching (Pilates and yoga) are all easy at-home exercises.

Give the gift of health. Help your loved ones make fitness a priority by giving them a gift card to the local health club or prepaying a month of a gym membership. You could also help them add variety to their exercise by gifting a personal training session. Investing in a “lifestyle-themed” gift may give your loved ones just the burst of motivation they need to take the next step in their health and wellness goals. 

Mentally prepare yourself. Research shows that, for most Americans, the drive to over- indulge and under exercise is governed more by emotions than by environmental factors. Since we often eat in response to feelings, the holiday season may stir up a whole pot of emotions for many of us. The olfactory sense is a direct pathway to the brain, says Warren Huberman, a clinical psychologist specializing in weight control at the New York University Medical Center. This can send you back to the kitchen time and time again without a real hunger for food. It’s great to gather with friends and family to celebrate with an elaborate meal. However, strive to focus on those positive memories, not covering them up with the foods you associate with those feelings, says Katherine Muller, Psy. D. director of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Pray. A recent poll done by USA Today revealed that one routine people cannot live without, even on vacation, is prayer. This is encouraging news! It says that Christians and non-Christians both recognize the power of prayer. God delights in every form of prayer to Him – spoken, thought, or written. Therefore, if you know your lifestyle choices will be a burden during the holidays, by all means, lift those concerns to Him. Pray honestly and fervently (1 Thess. 5:17).

This holiday season, rejuvenate your days with exercise, enjoy seasonal treats in moderation, and, most importantly, give thanks to your Father for sending His Son. The true reason for the season (Jn. 1:14).