Holidays are a wonderful time during the year for spending quality time with friends, family and loved ones. Food is typically at the epicenter of this season and a time for indulgence. While one decadent meal or dessert will not ruin hard work, it is important to stay active during the winter months, especially if you live in places that get cold. Here are a few tips and tricks that I use to stay active during the holidays:
- Set a challenge for yourself
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I ran a half-marathon. Personally, I felt a little stuck in my exercise routine because I had just relocated from South Florida to Ohio. It had been a few years since I had seen temperatures below 55 degrees, much less snow, so I needed a little boost to jumpstart getting prepared for winter. I’m a competitive rower, and my on-the-water season just ended, so I decided to try something new to not only get my body acclimated to the weather, but to also mentally push myself and set the unwavering tone that winter would not deter me from my enjoyment of exercise. Perhaps I enjoy suffering a little bit, but I also embrace the “pain cave” as I like to call it, and I know that it is only a temporary state. The sense of accomplishment is much more gratifying than not doing anything at all.
By setting this challenge, with only about 14 days notice, I was able to reset my mind and prepare for something in the near-future, and that motivation made me feel empowered. My goal was to break 2 hours for the half since I had never run an official one before and I did not give myself a lot of time to train. When race day came, I was ready to go but I ran in terrible conditions. It was 39 degrees, raining the entire time, my glasses were fogged up, and I could not feel my feet the entire time. But I ended up with a 1:43:56 (7:56/mi) time and I want to do more of them!
As a side note, I do not recommend jumping into a half marathon if you are not well-trained. It was relatively easy for me to switch to running because of my rowing experience, but if you are new to exercise, please train smart and start small (1 mile, 5ks, walk/run) and build-up to longer distances!
And it does not have to be running. Challenging yourself can be doing anything new, but it should also be enjoyable so that you want to stick to the routine.
- Treat holidays like any other day
While holidays are a special time, in terms of staying active, I treat it like any other day. By keeping my routine, I can focus on the physical task at-hand and mentally escape into my little world for an hour or two. I find physical activity to be a great stress reliever from normal life and by keeping things normalized, I set the intention to beat a goal or finish a workout as if it is any other day of the year.
- Hold yourself and others accountable
The only person you must answer to is yourself. In theory, no one is going to make you get up at 5am to go to the gym before work except you. It’s a classic case of “mind over matter” and I personally tell myself that once I get moving, I will not be tired anymore. I also tell myself that I have had tougher experiences in my life, so if I can do that then I can do this. Establishing a baseline of motivation and even writing out your task and goals on post-its and visually seeing them can be immensely helpful.
However, doing things in isolation is not for everyone and doing things in pairs/teams/groups can help everyone to achieve individual goals. Holding each other accountable and creating communities and sharing experiences can be valuable for anyone’s journey. That’s why I love rowing. We are eight guys in a boat working out hardest to individually succeed, but also working together to be in-sync with our timing, oar heights, speed, and power. We are only as strong as our weakest rower, so we must be synergistic to achieve our common goal.
I hope my experiences and tips help you to achieve your goals. With New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, use that platform to jumpstart behavior change that is sustainable and enjoyable!
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.