I love the holidays. I like spending time with family and close friends and not worrying about work stuff. I also like all the food.
What I don’t like is how holidays have a way of making me forget about exercise and fitness. No matter how much fun I have running, the morning after Thanksgiving will always find me in bed. Still asleep. And possibly dreaming about eating more of the leftovers. It’s doubly hard because Thanksgiving kicks off holiday season for me. Christmas is just around the corner. And then it’s partying on up to the New Year.
And that’s just hell on my fitness and running goals.
I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people like me out there. The holiday season means eating more and working out less (or not at all.) Actually, if we’re being honest, the holidays may not be the only time you cheat on your diet or exercise. I mean, that’s alright. As long as you don’t do it too often and don’t go overboard with it, a little cheat now and then should be fine.
What’s important, of course, is to get back on track. No matter how much you’ve neglected your diet and fitness while on holiday break, it’s always possible to re-start your workout regimen. Here are a few tips how.
- Do a reality check
This is no fun but it must be done. Grab the scale and weigh yourself. Seeing the actual physical effect of your holiday eating fun will go a long way towards allowing you to visualize what you now need to do to get back on track. It’s easier to calculate how many days it will take to burn x number of calories. Put it this way: knowing you need to burn 2 pounds a week is more realistic and attainable than just thinking your love handles seemed to have grown and must be shed, right?
Sure, it can be disheartening to see how much you’ve gained over the course of a couple of weeks or so. But that just gives you a more tangible reason to start working out again. Take that frustration out and turn it into your motivation to ramp up your fitness.
- Make cardio a priority
Nothing burns fat quite like cardio. If you want to get rid of all the unwanted excess poundage, then work on getting more cardio. Yes, that includes you, men, too.
- Watch Your Portions.
Let’s be clear. You’re in this position because of two things exactly: you overate during the holidays and you didn’t work out as much or at all. So now you’re going to get back to your exercise routine. But that won’t be enough. You also need to start keeping your food portions a bit smaller than what it was during the break. (Okay, maybe a LOT smaller.) Portion sizes affect your diet (and belly size) so making an effort and consciously shrinking the portion of what you eat will also affect the size of your belly.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
All the sodium your body accumulated from eating out and eating snacks resulted to you feeling (and maybe looking) bloated. You also have to consider all the alcoholic beverages you have consumed, plus the soda and coffee. Help your body flush out toxins by upping your water intake.
- Get committed.
You have to accept the fact that you backslid in your fitness efforts. Now it’s time to commit again to running. You know you need to work out and eat right. But it’s also important that you know what your new goals are and how you plan to achieve them. Then really commit to it and do it.
Just know that after a hiatus, it’s not advisable to start up using your old and usual regimen. This is true whether you’re running or working out in a gym. You can risk injury by not easing back into your routine.
Start slow. Runners can get back into it by walking for half an hour first until they’re comfortable and at ease again. Each day can be started with a 5-minute warm-up before the actual work out. End with a 5-minute cool down. Keep your pace moderate and do a brisk walk at running intervals.
Week 1 after the holiday can be limited to just 30- to 35-minute runs. Run for 2-3 minutes then do brisk walks for a minute during intervals. You can move up to 35-40 minute runs on week 2, with longer timed runs and 1-minute walking intervals. Do this until you’re back to your usual form.
The holidays may be inevitable. But that shouldn’t mean you can kiss your fitness goals goodbye.