In Southeast Idaho, we love the holiday spirits that Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day brings, but it also brings unwelcomed weight gain. It starts at the end of October with Halloween and a few “fun-sized” chocolate bars. Then Daylight Savings arrives in early November, bringing later sunrises and earlier sunsets. By Thanksgiving, you may drive to and from work in the dark, which can really demotivate your best intentions to work out. Enter Thanksgiving feasts, holiday cookies and treats, Christmas meals, a New Year’s party (or two), and … bam! All your hard work in the fall is out the window, and you’re trying to renew your commitment to get back in shape.
That’s the reality for most adults here in Idaho. The six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are primetime for easing up on your fitness routine and letting go of healthy nutritional habits. Most adults don’t resume their regular fitness routine until April, leaving the six months between Halloween and springtime lost to colder weather and darker days.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Get yourself off the hamster wheel of winter weight gain and springtime recommitment. Head into the holiday season and winter months with clear goals and a plan.
Here are Clifford Family Medicine’s top tips for staying on track during the holidays and winter months:
Do you want to maintain your current fitness level heading into 2018? Perhaps not gain weight between Halloween and New Year’s Day? Or maybe beat a certain fitness or health goal? Whatever your motivation is, write it down. It’s the only way you can plan for how you’ll achieve it.
What’s your workout routine going to be in November, December and January? What classes are you going to attend? What at-home workouts will you do? What days and what time? Write it down, tell your spouse, tell your friends and stick to your plan. Cross it off day-by-day, just like your “Days ‘Til Santa” countdown. Make your plan go through January. This takes the guesswork out of finding your motivation when the post-holiday crash sets in. Let Dr. Clifford help if you have any trouble with creating a healthy plan.
The sun won’t rise until after 7 a.m., and it will be dark by 5:30 p.m. Don’t let this deter you from your goals. You’ll need to be committed to your goals to get out your warm bed in the pitch dark during the 5 o’clock hour or head back out after work/dinner at home for your evening workout. Be stronger than your strongest excuse. Winter workouts are all about showing up. Once you show up, you’ll be glad you did by the end of the workout. The best news is: If you make it through the darker, colder days, then springtime workouts are a treat!
Staying on track doesn’t mean missing out on fun holiday events or parties. Aim to pick the best choice of your available options. Look for protein and veggies at parties. Drink a big glass of water between each alcoholic drink. Pick the one thing you really want to enjoy (dessert, booze or seconds of your favorite dish), and enjoy it. It’s when we enjoy all the options that we find ourselves dehydrated, bloated and exhausted the next day.
Find a system that works for you to record your daily workouts, water intake, meals, snacks and how you felt. There are lots of apps for this or use the old-fashioned pen and paper. This process can be a game changer in bringing mindfulness to your behaviors and actions.
Go into the holiday season and winter months prepared, and you’ll be thrilled with your ability to enjoy the holidays while maintaining your fitness goals! With Clifford Family Medicine you are our family!