’tis the season!

As much as many people might love this time of the year, it also happens to be one of the toughest times of years when it comes to fitness goals. Between social gatherings filled with all sorts of yummy but less than healthy foods, and the weather making routine exercise more difficult, and increased stress for many different reasons, we often find our health taking a back seat. It does not help that many find the colder seasons a bit of a “downer”. However, if it is worth having it is worth working for still remains a simple truth. Just like those days when we wake up and feel, “I really don’t want to do this!”, it is the times when it is the hardest that we should push more. The rewards will be that much higher, and ultimately we will feel better for pushing ourselves.

Here are a couple of ideas that might help us keep on track through the holiday and winter season. Basically it takes a bit of compromise and a lot of will.

mmmmmmThe diet challenge

  • PLAN AHEAD. If we know we are going to a gathering that will be filled with all those yummies that we usually deny ourselves, give ourselves a break. Immediately before and after, adjust our diet to allow for the extras. Emotional health is just as important as physical health, so allow ourself to simply enjoy.
  • MODERATION. Just because we are allowing ourselves to expand the range of our diet does not mean we have to gorge. Have a little of everything we want, don’t go on an eating binge. And listen to our bodies. Full means full!
  • RESIST THE NIBBLE. Just because there are left over yummies lying around does not mean we HAVE to eat them. If we want some, do it as part of our meal, or replace a snack with it. But try NOT to graze, no matter how tempting.

The exercise challenge

  • BE FLEXIBLE. This time of year tends to mess up schedules that we have built throughout the year. But just like everything else we have to do, just adjust accordingly. If we can’t exercise when or for as long as we normally do, than adjust. But don’t give it up altogether. We will be able to return to a normal routine soon enough, but it will be that much harder if we simply stop now.
  • FIND ALTERNATIVES. If we can’t get to the gym, do something at home. If we usually do things outdoors, but the weather makes that difficult, find an alternate location. A mall or an indoor track for runners and walkers. A machine for other sports. If none of these are an option, just temporarily use a different form of exercise.
  • DON’T make excuses. Excuses are the most common resource for those who are avoiding exercise, and no matter HOW devoted we may be to fitness, they are still easy to fall into. Change is NEVER a good excuse. Just something to adjust for.

The stress challenge

  • TAKE TIME FOR OURSELVES. Many of us find that we are that much busier this time of the year, with the demands of the season. As a result we find ourselves running full tilt and end u stressed out and ragged. Remember to simply stop and breathe once in a while. Ideally make some time to do something we enjoy, even if only a few minutes.
  • REMEMBER WHY. Don’t get so caught up in doing what we “need” to do that we forget why we are doing it in the first place. Not only will that stress US out, but it will demean the results of whatever it is for others as well.
  • MAINTAIN. By keeping up on the diet and exercise, even if a modified version, we will automatically help keep our stress level down. A a healthy and happy body is always the first step to a stress free person.

In all cases, the most important thing to remember is … DON’T FEEL GUILTY! There is nothing wrong with enjoying the season or your family and friends. Guilt does nothing except stress us out and take away from the joy we DID have. Don’t feel guilty for straying off our chosen path. Just head ourselves back onto it as soon as we can! Changes in season are part of nature, and the holidays are part of our culture. We all react to the differently, but we also have the ability to prevent them from altering our priorities, even if it takes some adjusting to do so. It is simply a matter of choosing to keep healthy, and not let a few bumps in the road slow us down.