With the new year upon us, gyms will start filling up and all of those people with a fitness resolution will have their expectations soaring. Those who aren’t already members of gyms will be out searching for a place to sign on the dotted line. Little do they know that more than half of them will drop out within the first 90 days. It’s no secret that the number one resolution for most people is to make fitness a priority and get in shape.
For those who are already exercising and are members of a gym, the holidays are a busy time where for majority of the people, exercise isn’t on their holiday gift list. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday, making cookies, decorating, being with family, extra time to take for yourself isn’t as easy as some may wish. This article will hopefully give you some great ideas on how to stay on track this holiday season, and for those who are just starting off, hopefully this article will get you off on the right foot towards lifelong success and a healthier you.
How bad do you want it?
When it all comes down to it, the real question is—how bad do you want it? If you want it bad enough you will easily succeed. If you are motivated to start exercising and take control of your life, then you are one step ahead of everyone else. The hardest part is actually starting an exercise program. Once you start exercising and start seeing and feeling the benefits, you will easily be hooked for life. Find something that motivates you and leave yourself reminders of why you need to keep on track. They can be something as simple as a word or a picture. Whatever you choose put it somewhere that you will constantly be reminded of it. Some people who have issues with their diet put their motivation on their fridge, that way when they are hungry and go to get a snack, they see their motivation and rather than grabbing for that ice cream they grab for something healthy like veggies. Half the battle is getting it implanted in your head that exercise has many benefits and that by exercising you are improving your health and taking control of your body. If you want to lose weight, only you have get yourself there, no one else can do it for you. It’s not going to be easy, but you can achieve anything. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. Exercise isn’t a once and done thing, it is a lifestyle change. The term “lifestyle change” might scare some people, but by making small changes over time, switching from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle won’t seem so harsh. Again, it’s all in your head. If you can overcome the urges to cheat on your diet or skip a workout, then the sky is the limit to your success.
Create a plan before the New Year
Whether you are planning to start exercising for the New Year or are already on the path, it is wise to sit down and create a written plan for yourself. You want to write down some short and long term goals. Make sure the goals are things that you can measure—this makes it much easier for you to track your progress. If you hold off making a plan until after the New Year, you will be less likely to get started as people tend to keep pushing things off until eventually they are forgotten about. If you truly want to live a longer, healthier life, then creating a plan early is your best bet to getting started and reaching your goals.
Eat throughout the day of a holiday gathering
No matter what the occasion, it is smart to eat throughout the day of a party. This will keep you full throughout the day so when you go to the party you aren’t starving and chow down. Also, by eating throughout the day, you will have a constant supply of nutrients to feed your muscles and help them grow and recover. Holiday gains? Now that should be on everyone’s Christmas list!
Eat healthy foods at the holiday gathering
Your best bet when watching your weight during the holidays is to make sure you don’t over-indulge at holiday parties. It is very easy to step off the right path when you see all of that good (but unhealthy) food. Your food of choice while at a party should be focused on protein. Where most people get in trouble is with all the foods that are loaded with carbs and fats. The holidays bring families together but it also brings along pies and cakes. Load your plate with some protein and dig in. The great thing about protein is that it fills you up fairly quickly and it also keeps you full longer.
If you find yourself hungry either before or after a holiday meal and you don’t want to fall off track with your fitness goals, your best bet is to grab for some nuts. Anything from peanuts to almonds will do just fine. Another alternative if there aren’t any nuts available would be vegetables. It’s not uncommon to see carrots, celery, broccoli, and such as snacks laying around at gatherings. However, where you see veggies, you will also see dips. The smart move would be to stay away from the dips, as most of them are full of fats. If you must, put a little dip on your plate to eat with your veggies to give them some extra flavoring but don’t overdo it.
Drink plenty of water
Water not only keeps you hydrated, but it is also a zero-calorie beverage. A much better choice when compared to what most people are consuming during the holidays. With eggnog and alcohol flowing during these times, it is hard to say no to the temptation. However, if you are truly set of reaching your fitness goals, you must stick with water. If you decide to have some drinks, it is best to spread them out over a couple days of parties you will be attending and to “nurse” the drink so you aren’t tempted to quickly drink it and get another one. By drinking plenty of water you will also feel fuller throughout the day so you will be less likely to binge on foods that you shouldn’t be eating between meals. This not only cuts down on your calorie intake, but it also makes sure you are properly hydrated to keep your metabolism fired up.
During the holidays in order to make sure you get a workout in, you need to schedule some time in your day. Pick the days you want to workout and write in exactly what time you want to exercise and make sure those plans don’t change. Without scheduling your workouts, it is easy (especially during the holidays) to find yourself doing something else rather than exercising. With so much to do, people tend to use the excuse that they don’t have time to fit in workouts during the holidays. Having no time is one of the oldest excuses in the book. Waking up a little early in the morning to get in a workout really isn’t that hard to do once you get a routine down. A lot of people also workout on lunch breaks from work in order to get their workout in. Some people just do cardio on lunch breaks while others try and get in a quick weight workout. If people are lucky enough to get an hour lunch break, it gives most people enough time to do a weight workout along with some cardio. The main point to take from this is simple, it doesn’t matter how you do it or when you do it, just make sure you schedule a time to exercise.
Keep an exercise journal
The best way to track your progress is to write each of your workouts down in an exercise journal. Chart every exercise, set, rep, type and duration of cardio, and the date. Your exercise journal can be anything from a notepad, to a piece of computer paper, to a chart you made on the computer. The key here is to be consistent with writing down your workouts and making sure you aren’t taking steps backwards. By keeping a journal, you have something can go back in time and see exactly how you have been progressing over the past couple weeks, months, and even years. Another great advantage of keeping an exercise journal is if and when you get to a sticking point you can look back in your journal and see what you did the last time to get you out of that plateau.
The people who don’t keep a journal never know exactly how they are progressing because they have no way of measuring what they accomplished in the past. By writing everything down you can go back to the week before and make sure you aren’t using a weight that is less than the week before or that you didn’t cut yourself short on a piece of cardio equipment. The time spent writing everything in the journal during your workouts (which takes no time at all since most people write things in the journal while resting between sets) is well worth the knowledge and progression you will see down the road.
Exercise at home
We all know holidays are super busy and that most gyms aren’t open on certain holidays. So, what do you do when this happens? Workout at home! Sure, you aren’t going to have access to heavy dumbbells, a wide variety of machines, and rows and rows of cardio machines—but you don’t have to have all that fancy stuff! Heck no, you can get a decent workout right in your own home. Now I’m not saying this is a type of workout that you should do all the time (not unless you cannot afford a gym membership or some home equipment). But when you are rushed for time and you need to get a workout in, you can literally hit every body part one way or another right in the comfort of your own home.
You can easily find things around your house to use to get in a workout. You could do things such as pushups, crunches, sit-ups, close-grip pushups, bicep curls (with weighted objects around the house), shoulder presses (with weighted objects around the house), bodyweight squats, and bent over rows (with weighted objects around the house) in order to get in a workout. For cardio, you can simply go for a walk or jog and if you have access to a bike you could even go for a nice bike ride (assuming there isn’t any snow or ice on the ground).
For those of you who already have a gym membership, it still wouldn’t be a bad idea to get yourself some inexpensive pieces of equipment for at home incase you need to fit in a quick workout and driving to the gym and back would not make sense.
Some people financially cannot afford to work out in a gym—not a problem. Equipment can be purchased for use at home. Another great thing about having equipment that you can use at home would be that you have no excuse that you didn’t have time to go to the gym since the gym is already in your home. You don’t have to spend time on the road driving to and from the gym and you don’t have to wait till someone is done using a machine. By having a gym at your house, you can find a time during the day that is convenient for you and get a quick workout in.
Avoid extra calories on alcohol
Alcohol not only adds extra calories to your diet, but it also lowers testosterone which is needed to help build lean muscle mass. Those couple drinks that you have a party can easily add up to well over 1,000 calories by the time the night is over. Guess what happens to those added calories? They get stored as FAT! Something you don’t want to happen, especially during the holidays. The worst part is, those people mixing drinks, not only are you getting your extra calories which you don’t need from the alcohol, but also from the soda you are using to mix your drink with. And beer, yes, we are all aware that many American’s love beer. It is of your best interest to lower beer/alcohol consumption especially if you want to see better progress with your fitness goals. Your best bet is to either drink water or tea (your best option would definitely be water) during holiday parties.
If you utilize the tips you have just read above, you are much more likely to stay on track during the holiday season. If you start to fall off the wagon, regroup and hop back on. There are always bumps in the road, what you need to focus on is minimizing those bumps and if you hit one you need to get back on the right path. It’s the time of the year to be with your family and enjoy the holidays. Make sure you get your workouts in and try and relax a little. Enjoy the company of friends and family and make it a holiday to remember. Cheers to a new year!