Building healthy habits takes work, letting them slip is much easier. But, the results are far less rewarding. Momentum can swing in either direction; forward toward your goals, or farther and farther away.
Talking with a client today I was reminded of why this time of year is often destructive of our health and fitness routines. "I'll get back to it (exercise, healthy eating, going to bed early, drinking water, prepping food for work) RIGHT after Thanksgiving dinner!" turns into "I'll start Monday!", then "...after the work party...after Christmas, after Hanukkah...Aw screw it, after the New Year!" I know we are all busier these days but skipping your workouts won't help much. After a few days off, we easily get derailed and fall farther behind. The longer you go with out prioritizing your good habits the harder it gets to return to them. My advice, Don't Stop.
If you are concerned about weight gain here's a stat for you - According to Roberts and Mayer (Nutrition Reviews, 2000), the extra one to two pounds the average person gains each year at midlife tends to stick; that is, they don’t lose it in January with their New Year’s Resolutions. But that’s the average. If you’re overweight, the stats are even more dire: 5 pound average weight gain from Thanksgiving through January 1. Sadly, the 6-week holiday season that we’re now in explains more than half of annual weight gain. More than half!
Here are a few strategies to keep you from being a statistic, and avoid the struggle to return to then healthy routine you've worked so hard to build, plus, a little musing about the holidays:-)
Don't let more than two days go by without a "workout". Even if it's a yoga DVD in the basement, a 20min walk on the treadmill, or quick trip to the gym to lift weights.
Stock the kitchen cupboards and fridge with your usual healthy go-to foods. Keep apples, mixed nuts, greek yogurt, chopped veggies handy for snacking. When you are surrounded by homemade breads, cookies and pies it's much easier to make a healthy choice if you don't have to work that hard to do it.
If you can eat it in March, skip. Trader Joes brownie bites exist ALL year long. No need to try one, you know what it tastes like. Save your indulgences for the perfect slice of Mom's apple pie.
Most importantly, focus on the best parts of this holiday season. We tend to complain a lot about being busy, about not having time for ourselves, about traffic, about gaining weight, about missing workouts and before we know its all over and what do we remember? The stress? Again? This year try to do it differently. Send hand written notes. Volunteer. Return someones shopping cart for them. Buy your officemate a coffee. Bring a fresh winter salad to the party. Try everyday to do something in the spirit of giving and loving. Support the health and happiness of the people in your life. And don't forget yourself. Oh, go ahead and put yourself first. Take your favorite spin class, buy a new warm hat to run outside, splurge on a $9 green juice for lunch. You'll be feeling good and ready to share a fuzzy holiday vibe right on into Spring!