As the holidays approach and our priorities shift from the back to school frenzy to the shopping and cooking frenzy how does a busy mom and/or career woman keep her fitness and health goals from slipping towards the back burner?
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to go into 2020 without the need to cast revamped fitness resolutions, attempt a “detox” from Holiday cookie and candy cane binges, or lament the five pounds gained from overindulgences?
Drop the “All or Nothing” AttitudeWhat if we started now---today---in staying committed to our exercise routines and decidedly not going overboard in the holiday treat department? It is entirely possible to enjoy the pleasures and yield to the demands of the holiday season without falling off the wagon completely.
We don’t have to accept an all-or-nothing attitude with regard to our health habits. The greatest returns are born of steady investments: your stock might go up and down but if you regularly sell out when times get tough, you’ll lose out in the long run.
If your current state of affairs is a 5 am workout you squeeze in three days a week, and a fairly balanced diet consisting of four home-cooked dinners a week, two take-outs and one restaurant excursion, and you’re satisfied with your progress, how do you expect the bottom might fall out in the next few weeks?
If you miss one workout do you bag the whole week and vow to start fresh the following week (and then maybe, bag that week too?) or do you cut your losses and pick up where you left off next workout day? In case you don’t know where I’m going with this, the latter scenario is the one we should subscribe to in general when it comes to our health routine: do your best, but if you drop the ball, pick it up as soon as possible. Not all is lost!
Adopt the 80/20 RuleI attribute my consistent health and fitness successes to adhering to the 80/20 rule (maybe it’s closer to 90/10). Allowing a degree of permissiveness and embracing a practice of intuitive eating is healthy for your emotional well-being and enjoyment in life, especially during the holidays. Feelings of deprivation will most likely backfire resulting in overeating or complete abandonment of adherence to balanced eating. So, don’t do that.
If cookies are your weakness and there are dozens taunting you every weekend until New Year’s Day, then make a plan of what is acceptable. If you eat clean (fresh veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, and no sugar) for each meal of the day, then I think we can all agree that having two or three cookies at your holiday party (and even a glass of wine or two) is totally acceptable even a few times a week.
Stay committed to your healthy eating, even if you’re eating out more or attending holiday parties. Try to attend these parties with a full belly to deter potential over-indulgence, or if that’s not feasible, start with the crudites, for goodness’ sake, not the brownies. Eat the shrimp cocktail, not the cheesy nachos, and then you can enjoy your cookies guilt free.
Cookies not your deal but you love nachos? Eat the nachos! Just make sure you fill up on fruit and veggies first. Catch my drift?
Are you someone who hasn’t been committed to a healthy lifestyle and figure you’ll just start in the new year? I challenge you to start now. Make small changes and work towards the 80/20 lifestyle.
The most obvious place to start is stop drinking your calories. Addicted to Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes (they’re 380 calories btw!), maybe now is the time to make the switch to a good, old fashioned, Stevia-sweetened, regular coffee with cream (35 calories) or bridge the transition with a Cafe Misto (110 calories).
Can’t get through the day with three Pepsi colas? Oh boy, this one is tough to break but so important to do. Let’s put it in perspective. If your diet was fulfilling your maintenance calories through food and you drank one soda a day every day, you will gain 12 lbs a year. If you have to wean yourself off, do what you have to do, but please, please, please make a concerted effort to ditch the regular soda habit and reserve it for a weekend treat. Unfortunately, diet soda habits don’t fair much better in the long run; diet soda addicts regular consume more calories than they need daily.
Move Somehow, Anyhow, and FrequentlyI get it---I have two kids under five that wake me up before 6 every day and are finished their school day at noon, giving me hardly enough time to sweep the kitchen floor let alone take time for myself. But I insist on it today after sacrificing so much of my health and wellbeing the previous 4 years. I am a better mom when I am rested, healthy, exercising regularly and eating well.
I am lucky enough to belong to a gym with childcare which gives me a great excuse to workout and get a break from my young humans’ stream-of-consciousness-constantly-vocalized. Most gyms have some kind of option for free or affordable childcare today so if you don’t belong to one, do your due diligence today! It’s a lifesaver. And it will support your exercise efforts by removing the barrier of childcare (if that’s your biggest barrier).
Motivation your biggest hurdle? I get that, too. You’ve got cleaning, shopping, cooking, working, hair appointments, dentist appointments, health insurance open season, friend check-ins, family obligations, travel plans and execution, more work, more tasks, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.
Yes, life is busy as hell and if you’re not already in an exercise routine, starting one during the holidays seems daunting as hell. So change the way you’re thinking about it. If you hate going to the gym, forget the gym. If you love classes, find one and go once a week. Just once! To start, that is. And then if you end up feeling great afterward, schedule another one into your calendar right after the last one finishes.
Sign up for stroller striders if you’re a new momma. I adore watching those ladies move and socialize at the same time---two activities vital for a post-partum mom. Don’t forget all the other options out there today: CrossFit, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, martial arts….all of these have their own studio options and, often, come-when-you-can class cards.
Hate classes, too? Intimidated or feel pressured rather than inspired? No problem. Get your butt out of your house and go for a brisk walk. Having a dog helps make this obligatory, but no canines necessary. If you live where there are no sidewalks like I do, drive to wherever the surroundings ground you or bring you joy. The leaves are gorgeous right now! Drive to your destination: walk through Maymont in the morning, or the Fan, or West Broad Village (that’s my go-to) for a good half hour, with a friend or your kids.
Grab your girlfriend, get a sitter (or leave the kids with dad) and go dancing! Remember those days? I do, and it was a fun way to work up a sweat and burn off excess college calories. If Zumba isn’t your bag, go see a band you like or go to a fun club on the weekends and let your hair down while you tear up the dancefloor. If that’s too much to ask on a regular basis, do what I do: Play your favorites on Alex in your living room and dance all by yourself. (These have been some of my favorite evenings!)
Are you a Boss Babe running in circles from 6am to 9pm finding it impossible to find time to move or even eat right? Squeeze what you can into your day.
On the elevator? Smile and wave at the camera and do air squats until you reach your floor. Driving from one appointment to another? Stop picking the closest parking spot---you know this one: Park as far away as you can and walk your butt off to the building. Grabbing take out between meetings? Go to Zoe’s instead of Chick-Fil-A.
The point is, take the time to evaluate your choices and make the best choice that you’re able to make in that moment and not the easiest or most convenient one. I know that can get hard, but I promise you’ll feel so much better come January when you’ve actually made progress instead of lost ground.
Michele G Rogers, MA, NFPT-CPT is the NFPT blog editor/publisher and has been a fitness professional for 17 years, inspired by a lifetime passion for all things health and fitness. Her professional mission has been to raise awareness and guide clients to achieve a mind-body connection, helping them live and move more efficiently. A chronic back pain sufferer for decades and becoming a mom of two prompts her training approach to emphasize corrective exercise and progressive programming. Follow Michele on Instagram!
Welcome! I’m Dannah.
I’m a full-time working mom of two young kids and a fur mom to a Boxer and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur with my main focus being on creating community for the women of RVA. I can’t wait to meet you at an upcoming event!