Ask anyone who’s been able to maintain their fit physique for any length of time, and they’ll tell you this: the hardest time to stick with your regimen is during the fall and early winter. Parties and festivals – with the requisite food and goodies, combine with the cooler weather and concealing clothing to make it easy to fall off your fitness wagon. Your body’s natural instinct to pad on a few warming pounds drives hunger, making it even more difficult.
However, these factors can’t derail you if you have a plan! Here’s how to overcome the temptations of the holidays and emerge in January without those tell-tale 10 extra pounds.
Create a Workable Fitness Plan
Before your schedule becomes hectic with party invitations and family get-togethers, sit down and write out your plans to stay fit. Schedule workouts and plan healthy meals and snacks. If you are on top of your basic workout and healthy meal plans most of the time, an occasional lapse won’t hurt too much.
Get Your Exercise in Early
As the days get shorter and time gets tighter, it’s all too easy to bail out of those late evening workouts. Instead, get your workout in at the beginning of the day so that last-minute plans won’t interrupt your good intentions. Roll out of bed a half-hour early and get in a jog or gym session before starting the rest of your day. Plus, knowing you have to be up early will encourage you to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and might keep you away from late-night temptations like finishing off those muffins from the party.
Keep a Fitness Journal
Knowing you are accountable — even if it’s just to yourself — is a great way to keep on track with your fitness goals. Keep a journal of your exercise and eating, including the times when you cheated or were tempted to cheat. Being aware of when and why you were tempted helps you develop a strategy for overcoming those obstacles. If you know you have to write down that you skipped your Pilates class or ate that whole batch of cookies, you’re less likely to succumb to temptations.
Water, Water, Water!
Staying hydrated is harder during the winter, because your body doesn’t feel thirst as acutely as during other times of the year. But water is essential for any good fitness plan, and it helps keep you fuller come meal time. Invest in a refillable water bottle and keep it full to sip on during the day. When you’re full of water, you’ll have less room for hot cocoa, decadent coffees, and other dietary no-no’s.
Make Your Workouts a Social Event
Do you feel like your social life is suffering due to the time you spend on the track or at the gym? Fill your workout sessions with friend time. Ask a neighbor or coworker to join your workouts, or form a friendly social alliance with other solo acts at the gym. The camaraderie helps push you through those difficult days when everyone else is pigging out and you’re pumping iron. You can alsotry out an exercise class for an additional boost of motivation from fellow gym members.
Use a Variety of Exercise Techniques
If you’ve fallen into the habit of using just one form of exercise to get in your daily sweat requirement, switch it up. Not only does this ward off boredom with your routine, it also helps you develop different muscle groups for a higher overall level of fitness. Swap your jog one week with some ice skating, or skip yoga class for a long bike ride. It’s a beautiful time of year to enjoy exercising outdoors, because the summer heat isn’t stifling your energy and the winds of winter haven’t erased the colorful leaves quite yet.
Learn to Compromise With Yourself Over Treats
It’s unrealistic to insist that you won’t cheat at all at holiday parties or family gatherings. Be reasonable. Decide ahead of time that you’ll allow yourself one cheat — but only one. Would you rather have that eye-popping pumpkin cake? Perhaps a warming mug of hot chocolate is more your style. Or, give yourself a trip to the wet bar for some of that oh-so-delightful eggnog. Allow yourself one cheat per party, but not more than that.
With a solid plan in place, you’re ready to rock out these holidays, without losing any of the fitness gains you’ve worked so hard to achieve.