If you are well into a healthy new lifestyle now, then exercise is a feature, whether that is walking around your neighbourhood, dancing with the kids, running marathons, grueling gym sessions or playing your favourite sport, you are moving more than you used to and making sure you move plenty on a daily basis.
Christmas can pose some problems for those with a strict regime of exercise. My own programme is quite time specific and time limited, in that it would be difficult right now to change it much and Christmas events encroach inevitably on the time I would normally be exercising. Couple that with gyms shortening their opening hours and even having whole days where they are closed, gym buddies not being as freely available, kids being home from school, visitors staying over and there is bound to be some disruption to the normal routine. We know that routine is important and building all of this healthy stuff into our daily lives is important. We also know that disruptions to our schedule can lead to us giving up, a little shift in our disciplined pattern can be the trip at the top of the helter skelter that sets all of our hard work back and sees us around April time wishing we’d stuck to our plan over the last Christmas and not regained all that weight. You know this, you know it happens. If you are a yo-yo dieter, a long term obese person, a person with an over eating disorder then you know that this happens and you know how sad it makes you feel when you think you could have maybe been slim by now, or a couple of stones further on the way to slim. That regret has you reaching for food more often than for your work out kit. Tell me if I’m wrong.
So what do we do? We can’t ask everyone to stay away, we can’t lock ourselves in a room and stick to our routine as if Christmas isn’t happening (well maybe some of us happily could but where is the fun in that?). We have to do like normal people do and handle this and get used to handling it because now we are losing weight and getting fitter we are hopefully going to be seeing many more of these festive seasons. Hallelujah to that if nothing else.
First of all you have to once again, going back to tip 1, plan for this. If you want to combat it like I do or are looking for some pointers to cope try this – schedule out all of your planned Christmas commitments, including outings and your own entertaining, your devoted family time, get it all documented.
Next map on top of that when your gym is open (if you use a gym) and check when your trainer is available – is he or she going to be changing your routine or are you going to need to notify them of changes? If you don’t use a gym or trainer, think about how your scheduled activities might affect your usual exercise. Is it going to be difficult for you to do a home DVD or You Tube exercise programme at 5am because you’re going to have guests on your lounge floor? Would it feel rude if you took off for a run just as your guests sit down to breakfast? Is it safe to go for an after dinner walk in the neighbourhood you’re going to be staying? Is the weather where you are staying going to mean you can’t do what you normally do? Plan out what parts of your usual routine you can do and what you definitely can not do.
Now map on to that some opportunities. For instance, are you going to be spending Christmas somewhere warm and sunny for a change? Note that you could go for a run, a bike ride, a swim. Are you going to be somewhere cold and snowy for a change? Note that you could try skiing while you’re there or get out and have a hell of a snowball fight with the family. Will someone be able to watch your kids for you, is that a luxury you don’t often have? Then could you maybe sneak off for a run or a long walk or a swim alone or with your partner? Could you sneak out in the evening for a workout? Would you be able to get out and take some exercise in the morning because someone is there for when the kids get up? Think of these opportunities and note them down, do not make this all about what you can’t do.
If you can then obviously sticking to your routine is great but as with the eating discussed in tip 2, if you decide to take a total break, set yourself a time limited break, don’t just make it non-specific. Set a date to resume training with your trainer and stick to it, don’t leave it at “i’ll get in touch when I’m ready for a session” because it is too easy for that day to never arrive. Write on your calendar and circle it many many times the date when you are going back to your normal routine and stick to it. Tell your trainer that you will pay him/her double if you dare to cancel the session and put it in writing. Again, as discussed in tip 1 that mental preparation and knowing what is coming will help you to follow through with it and get back on track.
If you are really going to struggle with ‘normal’ exercise, think about alternatives which are not normal to you. Who knows trying something new might give you renewed enthusiasm or help you add another variation to your regime. Buy everyone in the family a pair of roller skates and go for a Christmas skate in the park, take a family bike ride to fill everyone’s lungs with fresh air and to waft off some housebound cobwebs, go for a festive ice skate, if there’s open air facilities near you go, it’s such fun.
Take everyone for a walk after Christmas lunch, walking is a great time for talking and can be great fun and good for bonding. Dig out the kinnect or wii or even the old dance mat and get moving with some great competitive family fun games that will have everyone sweating. Take the kids out on those new bikes and run alongside them or walk fast. Dance at parties, circulate rooms do not sit in a corner, stay on those feet and keep moving. Swimming baths and gym pools can be empty over the Christmas period take advantage and go for an early morning swim or a late night one. Use the home to exercise in, everybody can manage a few runs up and down the stairs and a few squats while the turkey’s cooking, take advantage of the romance of the season and have lots of lively sex, insist on letting everyone relax and you do all of the tidying, picking up paper from the floor, fetching and carrying food and drinks. Just keep active.
But if you can’t keep up with it, just relax, kick those running shoes off and do nothing, slob out and enjoy a break just don’t let it last for too long and get back at it with gusto when the season to be jolly is over. Chances are you will find as with food (see tip 2) that you start to feel the ill effects of not exercising and want to get back to it faster than you thought. It only takes a couple of days to start feeling lethargic, stressed and irritable and for you to start to have physical side effects where you may not be sleeping so well and where your body starts to groan and ache in protest at not being used properly.
Also think about the progress you have made and think about how awesome you are going to feel when come that first week in January when the gym is bursting with people trying to get in shape again, hauling around their extra pounds with their bodies which haven’t seen a gym for a month, you are there fitter than ever and comfortably taking it all in your stride.
Don’t beat yourself up whatever happens, if you stray, you can return and you just have to dust yourself off and carry on again, beating yourself up, feeling that you let yourself down will only make you miserable, misery will have you reaching for food, scoffing that food will make you fatter and before you know it you’ll be back where you started and you don’t want to go there. Be kind to yourself and whatever happens come that first week in January when everything goes back to normal, make your exercise routine one of those things that you pick back up and run with.