How to Stay Fit During the Holidays

Santa Workout
Santa Claus visits the fitness center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., Dec. 16, 2010, before making his trip from the North Pole (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Tim Griggs).

Fitness is more about building momentum and persistence than anything else.  If you think about National Fitness Day (January 1), when the world makes resolutions only to be off the rails a month later, why not build some momentum NOW in the Fall and start of Winter and maintain it through the Holidays when we need it the most. 

Most Americans gain nearly five pounds from October through December. Personally, I think this is the best time of the year to build back your training routine as this quarter is the worst for turning sedentary and eating snacks all day. Here are some reasons why this time is so critical but at the same time so perfect to build a new fitness routine:

1 – Season of Change – Fall is the season of change for many reasons. The kids are back at school and the weather is starting to break from the hot and humid days of summer. There is little excuse to getting outside and moving when the weather is this nice for the next few months. We are all getting out of summer mode and starting to re-focus everything from work schedules to house schedules. Since you have to make the change anyway, add in fitness to the schedule again if you were lax about it during the previous few months.

2 - Days are Shorter – The only downfall to the Fall season is the days are getting shorter and feeling like working out when it is pitch black at 6am or after 6pm can be difficult. For times like these, if you are an early Am or late PM workout person is to get some quick rather intense workouts done that last 30 or fewer minutes. Maybe try adding in a lunch time walk and focus on relaxing and breathing. Also for quick workouts, mixing in fast 5-minute sets of cardio with a fast cycle of weights and calisthenics for 3-4 sets can be a great way to still fit it in if you are crunched for time or daylight.

3 – Sports Fans Beware - Many people actually become less active during this change of seasons and tend to watch many hours of sports a week. If you are one of the millions who can watch two solid days of football games and top it off with baseball playoffs, you may want to pull the stationary bike or dumbbells into the living room. This is prime time to gain weight from game time snacking, beers, sodas, and being sedentary for two days straight. If you are planning on a big day of watching sports, make sure you have earned it by working out or doing yard work in the morning prior to the games.

4 - Go into New Year with Momentum – Like a lion – not a lamb. Having a solid foundation of a few months under your belt prior to getting into the New Year resolution craziness, will help you make the transition into the Spring much easier next year. Most people have a difficult time losing weight during the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas / Chanukah periods where feasts and holiday treats are abundant. It does take some discipline. If you can make it through this period and not gain a pound, you are ahead of the curve. Make that your pre-New Year goal and if you can drop a few pounds now, you may start the cycle and see weight loss during the most difficult period of the year. This can help tremendously with your confidence with your fitness and health into the New Year.

If you think about it, there is something to focus on each quarter of the year. The New Year Resolution phase can get you going again. Spring time people start realizing they need to be better fit for the beach and pool or wearing shorts during the Summer. The Summer days are long and getting in extra physical events that burn calories are relatively easier.

The Fall can be one of the most important times of the year to not drop your workout habits. Re-starting with a new focus to make it through the change of seasons and the Holidays with a fitness focus is a good plan going into the New Year. Then we just repeat as these years fly by in a blink of an eye and you can be a different person in a year with persistence and some quarterly focus.

Some ideas can be found for FREE in the "45 Day Beginner Program" (PDF) for Beginner Workouts. For others see article ideas below or the Stew Smith Fitness Store for intermediate and advanced training programming.

Related Articles:
Fight Holiday Weight Gain
New Year – New Goals – Twelve Months of Fitness
New Year Resolutions That Worked
Fall Workouts – Intermediate / Advanced
More Tips to Fight Weight Gain

 

 

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness