Yuletide Fitness: Tips for Staying MotivatedOct 31, 2023 ● By Kiki Powers
During the holidays, it is easy to get swept up in all the festive cheer and forget fitness goals. The cold weather and tempting holiday treats make it tough to stay motivated to exercise. But with a few simple strategies, those fitness goals can be kept alive throughout the season.
Make a Plan and Stick to It
“One of the most powerful ways to keep yourself on top of your game during the winter and holiday season is to create a simple and effective workout routine,” asserts Anthony Roumell, a certified personal trainer in San Diego. A study published in Research in Sports Medicine confirms that patients that set intentions and action plans are more likely to adhere to the recommended level of exercise.
“The key is the discipline to create a healthy lifestyle all year round,” advises Josh York, founder of GYMGUYZ, a mobile fitness franchise in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. “A good exercise routine should be part of your regular active routine, just like brushing your teeth. Planning ahead, setting achievable goals and tracking progress will help you stay on track and keep motivated. Whether it’s working out in the morning before work or hitting the gym at lunchtime, be sure to track progress to stay motivated,” he recommends.
Mix It Up
To keep things interesting, mix up workout routines. For example, swap the cardio session for a strength training workout, or try a new class like Pilates, yoga or dance. A varied routine challenges the body in new ways and keeps the mind engaged while working out.
Roumell likes to use different strategies to jumpstart his fitness. “Sometimes it looks like meditation, reading a few pages of a book, watching a funny comedy skit or stretching in my sauna to get the blood flowing. On days I am particularly tired, sore or resistant to my routine, I take things into a bit more of a shock-and-awe context by doing a cold plunge for five minutes, followed by a review of my fitness goals,” says Roumell.
Find a Workout Buddy
Exercising with a friend or family member is a great way to stay motivated and accountable during the winter holidays. Find someone that has similar fitness goals and schedule workout dates together.
Choose Healthy Holiday Treats
It’s easy to indulge in sugary treats and heavy meals when everyone is celebrating, but indulging too much can cause weight gain and derail fitness goals. To stay on track, choose healthier holiday snacks like fruit salad, vegetable trays, nuts and lean proteins. When indulging, avoid overeating and practice moderation.
Winter months can bring about seasonal affective disorders that can make people feel down and lethargic. Small tasks such as lighting candles, meditation or even a short walk can be uplifting. According to a study published in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, exercise can help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
In the season of joy, find an enjoyable workout routine. “Forcing yourself to do exercises that you hate will only make it more difficult to stick to your fitness routine," says York.
“Clearly identifying the benefits you want to gain from fitness, such as improved health, energy and self-esteem, is crucial in helping you stick to your fitness goals,” York explains. When the holidays do disrupt the fitness plan, do not abandon the goal; treat it as a rest day instead. “I use the 80/20 rule when it comes to planning exercise and time off to provide flexibility during the holidays,” he adds.
Set a workout milestone and receive a reward when it is met. For example, booking a spa day or purchasing a new yoga mat may be the reward for exercising 20 days in a row or nailing a tough pose. Knowing that something special is on the other side of the workout can be a great motivator.
Winter holidays can be a challenging time for maintaining a fitness routine and meeting personal goals, but with a little bit of planning, determination and the right mindset, holiday cheer will not derail the achievement of fitness goals.
Kiki Powers is a contributing health writer for Natural Awakenings and national speaker specializing in plant-based nutrition and healthy green living. Learn more at RawKiki.com.