The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can make keeping a consistent workout routine difficult. From the chilly weather to the family gatherings to the last-minute shopping trips, squeezing in a regular sweat session usually ends up on the bottom of our to-do list. No wonder some people can gain up to seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s!
But not this year. We’ve come up with a five-step plan that will help you both manage and complete your workout in the midst of your busy holiday schedule so you can keep fit and feel more energized (which you will definitely need when you’re up all night perfecting the family gingerbread house).
Step 1. Plan Ahead
First, commit to working out at least three times a week. Even if you’re used to working out more frequently, try to give yourself a bit more flexibility this time of year (you can always add in another sweat session). Look at your calendar and get a general overview of what your schedule from Thanksgiving to New Year’s look like. Make note of the number of parties, get-togethers, and gatherings you think you’ll attend this season, as well as the number of nights you’ll need to shop after work, and after-school. When you see that you have a free one to two hour window, jot down your workout sessions like they are as important as your niece’s first Christmas concert because they are.
Scheduling your workouts will not only help you stay consistent with your fitness goals, but it will also help you stay accountable.
Step 2. Make It the First Thing You Do
Although you really shouldn’t think of your workout as something to get over with, sometimes you have to do in order to just get it done. By doing your workout first thing in the morning, you not only ensure that you complete it, but it leaves you with little wiggle room to skip it. And if that’s not enough motivation for you, studies have also shown that morning workouts help curb food cravings later in the day (which is especially key for this food noshing time of year).
Need some extra inspo? Try leaving your workout clothes and running shoes right by your bed, so you can put them on as soon as you wake up.
Step 3. Make it Short and Sweet
Don’t have a one hour window to hit the gym? No problem. Just do some HIIT instead.
Studies have shown that doing 15 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) burns more calories than jogging on a treadmill for an hour. Not only does this type of training burn more calories in less time, but you can also do it pretty much anywhere because it requires zero equipment. From your in-laws’ living room to a hotel room, doing an intense round of HIIT (which usually incorporates bodyweight exercises like jump squats and push-ups) is a great way to maintain your exercise schedule during this busy time of year.
Step 4. Find a Workout Buddy
Chances are you know someone in your circle who also wants to stay on track with their fitness during the holidays. Workout buddies are a great form of motivation, while also helping you to stick to your exercise goals. Feel like ditching a workout for a hot chocolate? Well, your workout buddy will probably have something to say about that.
Can’t find someone IRL? There are tons of communities, both online and offline, that will provide you encouragement, motivation, and workout ideas.
Step 5. Take Advantage of the Holiday Offerings
The holiday season might remind us of all the delicious food and treats to devour, but don’t forget there are a ton of opportunities to stay fit during the holidays. Favorite winter activities, like ice skating and cross-country skiing, are excellent forms of exercise that the whole family can enjoy.
Also, many gyms and exercise studios offer deals and specials during the holidays, including free trials. Already belong to a gym? Many fitness centers offer free consultations with personal trainers and other freebies that are worth checking out.
Feel like you’re living at the mall? Even power walking around the mall for 10-15 minute bursts between shopping errands can keep you in shape.
Your holiday schedule might be full of plans, but it’s important to remember that your workout should be considered a plan, too. By committing to a exercise schedule, even if it consists of bursts of HIIT and power walking around the mall, as well as a sweat session with your workout buddy, you’ll have more than enough time and motivation to kick those turkey and trimming calories to the curb this holiday season.
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