Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us! The days are shorter, the air is crisp and, believe it or not, decorative snowflakes already adorn San Francisco city streetlights. As our calendars fill with holiday dinners, work celebrations and parties with friends, it can be hard to maintain our normal eating and exercise routines. Yet, all it takes is a little bit of planning to make it through the season and still fit into your favorite pants come January.
1. Schedule your workouts: Just as you would with any meeting, add your daily workout to your calendar and treat it as you would any other commitment. Everyone has a preferred time of day for a workout, but when the days get busy, it’s great to have your workout done first thing. Another benefit of exercising early was shown in a 2011 study at Appalachian State University when researchers discovered that morning workouts are best to help provide a good night’s sleep. Early morning exercisers slept longer and spent more time in the reparative or deep sleep cycle at nigh
2. Make exercise easy: If you’re heading out for some shopping, park farther away to get a little extra walk in. Take a breather from close quarters with family to take a run or walk through the neighborhood. Almost 13 years ago I started my Birthday Run tradition. I was born on Christmas and have the good fortune to spend most of my day surrounded by loved ones. As a way to start to my new year and have some time on my own at the beginning of the day, I take a run the length of my new age wherever I am. This may be a problem when I hit my 70s, but for now I enjoy the time by myself. I tried to skip it once on a rainy Christmas Day a few years ago. Fortunately, my cousin Jordan shamed me into going and, thanks to him, I haven’t missed a Birthday Run in 13 years. If you can’t head out by yourself, make it a family affair and enjoy some fresh air and exercise with them.
3. Have someone to keep you accountable: Just like Jordan was my conscience, sometimes it is helpful to enlist a friend to meet for a workout. If you need a bigger push, schedule time with one of the therapists at TherapydiaSF who can design a program and help you stick with it. Trained in movement and experts in musculoskeletal anatomy, physical therapists work with both injured and healthy clients. At TherapydiaSF more than a quarter of our clients take part in our Wellness Programs including group classes, Pilates, TRX, or RunRx.
4. Everything in moderation: Can’t pass up mom’s mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving or your friend’s toffee at her holiday party? Feel free to sample, but watch your portions. My friend and I had a rule around the holidays when we worked together at another PT clinic. If we were going to indulge in a treat, it “had to be worth it”. This generally included various homemade and gourmet treats. Sometimes we disagreed on whether it was worth it, but just asking the question made us stop to think. Some believe that the Law of Diminishing Returns applies to eating–the more you eat of something, the less enjoyment it provides. At parties, know what you’re eating by making one trip to the food table to fill a small plate versus sampling from passed hors d’oeuvres or revisiting the buffet over and over…and make sure it’s worth it!