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How to Stay Active During the Holidays (and the Rest of the Year)

James WilsonHey! James Wilson here – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Back in Action, but feel free to call me “Coach James.”

So it’s that time of the year when people start to let their exercise regimen slip (if they’ve made it this far) or begin thinking, “Oh, I’ll get started in the New Year.” Ehhh (cue buzzer sound), wrong! Now is the best time to start. Here are 3 reasons WHY I fall into pitfalls (it happens to us Fitness Pros too) and HOW I get back on track!

3 Reasons WHY we fall into ruts

  1. Procrastination – This time of year is full of fun vacations, trips and family commitments (like hosting your in-laws). It is easy and understandable to get away from a “normal” schedule. But then comes the day after Black Friday (or Cyber Monday nowadays) and I dread going back to the gym or putting my running shoes on. Sometimes I make excuses or just plain forget – life happens.
  2. Plateaus – I love consistency (I’m Type A)! While this can be good, sometimes “too much a good thing” isn’t, and it is easy to fall into a rut once you stop seeing the gainz.
  3. Pooped – I don’t know about you all, but between Daylight Saving Time ending and the tryptophan-overload from days of leftover turkey sandwiches (and a new puppy), I’m just tired. I have trouble making my recovery as intense as my exercise (topic for another blog), and this often leads to me being too exhausted to even think about moving, let alone actually doing it.

HOW we can get back in action 😉

Let’s get back to the basics:

1. Commit to a Schedule – Take 10 minutes to look at your schedule. Determine how many days you can realistically commit to exercise. If you haven’t exercised in 6 months, pick 1-2 days to go on a “brisk” 15 – 30 minute walk/jog/bike ride (get it?) with your favorite playlist or get back into the gym and do the same thing. If you don’t belong to a gym, so many of them are offering holiday’s specials – then invest in your health this Christmas for a change.

If you’re only 1-2 weeks out, then you’re not too far away from your normal routine. Get back to 50% of your regimen Week 1, then 75% by Week 2 and Week 3 you’re firing on all cylinders! If your schedule won’t allow you to do your entire routine, then maintain the most you can. Consider cutting your workouts to half the amount of time, getting rid of any “fluff.” It’s much easier to get back to 100% strength and fitness if you maintain 50%, rather than “starting all over again.”

If you’re traveling, then same as above – do what you can. People hardly make massive improvements when they are away on business trips or vacation – and that’s okay (crazy, I know)! Guess what, maintenance is an appropriate and, most importantly, realistic health and fitness goal; here are a few popular ones:

  • “maintain my weight/fitness/strength”
  • “stay injury-free”
  • “keep active most days of the week”

2. Create a Plan – First, write down your goal and make it SMART – Specific Measurable Attractive Realistic and Timely. Then, get a generic exercise regimen from a website or magazine or hire a coach to write you program specific to your needs when you plan to hit the weights, pavement, field, etc. (I am in favor of the latter). I LOVE creating strength programs, conditioning regimens or just general activity plans for people and empowering them to do the work (let me know if you need any help via a complimentary 1-hour session)! Here are some realistic goals:

  • 10,000 steps per day
  • 5 – 7 hours of physical activity per week
  • 150 minutes of moderate, conversation-pace cardio (or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio) per week
  • At least 2 days of total-body, strength training (6 – 8 exercises of 2 -3 sets of 10 – 20 reps each covering the lower body, upper body and core is a great place to start!)

3. Get some sleep – Sneak in some naps when you can or, crazy thought, actually plan to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep by taking 1 – 3 hours away from the T.V. or your laptop. If improving quantity of sleep isn’t possible or isn’t your problem, then focus on improving the quality of your sleep. Better sleep hygiene is key! Here are some tips:

  • Establish and commit to a bed time that allows you as much sleep as possible, at least 6 hours
  • Wind down the blue light from your electronics 1 hour before bedtime
  • No caffeine after 4pm. No alcohol within 1 hour before of bedtime

The best part of these strategies to get out of (and avoid) pitfalls, is that they work all year-long! Like anything else important, exercise takes commitment and consistency, and everyone (even Fitness Pros) fall into slumps. Know when to ask for help and when to cut yourself some slack – no one is perfect!

Lastly, enjoy the holidays (responsibly) and don’t wait to take the first step in improving your health and fitness!

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