Finding time to exercise proves to be a challenge during any time of the year, never mind the holidays. Most of us have mentally written off or compromised our workouts from Thanksgiving until the New Year. Hold on to the dream, and get sneaky. If we view exercise as something we have to sneak in (like a good piece of chocolate) then maybe we will get some pleasure out of the navigation. Here are my top tips on making it happen even during the overscheduled holidays:
1. Schedule it. That's right. It doesn't sound very sneaky, but take a look at the coming weeks and write in your workouts on the open gaps of the calendar. Don't put off the rhythm of exercise until the New Year.
2. Walk whenever you can. This is the time of malls and shopping. Wear some comfortable shoes and pick up the pace. Even park your car as far away as you can from where you are going. If there is a set of stairs, take them. Work the legs and glutes.
3. Maximize your efforts. If you're headed for a walk with a friend or the kids, strap on 3 to 5 pound ankle weights. Only have 10 minutes? Bust your buns. Even if you are watching TV with the family sit on the floor and do push ups and sit ups. Don't just park it on the couch; keep moving when you can. Need to get some yard work done? Put your back into it, and turn it into a productive workout for you.
4. Stay body conscious. Working on the computer? Keep that tummy taught. Laundry? Do sets of squats in between unloading the washer and loading the dryer. Standing at the counter? Do kick backs and tighten those buns. Commercial break during your favorite show? Drop and give yourself 20 sit ups.
5. Organize "games" with the kids. Hang out with the kids and play active games like touch football, hide & seek, and tag. You will keep yourself moving, have fun with them, and maybe even wear them out in the mean time.
6. Keep free weights (a few light dumbbells) and some exercise bands in your house. If you only have a few minutes, do a mini circuit that will be fast and effective. Start with a 1-2 minute warm up, head to a set of 20 squats and lunges, and then move on to a bicep curl to shoulder press. Still have time? Drop to the floor and do crunches, push ups (even if on your knees) and then repeat the circuit again. Try to move non-stop, and get 3 rounds done.
REMEMBER: A few minutes of exercise will benefit you. As they say, "condense but intense."
7. Fill up on good stuff. Going to parties or hanging around the house? Try to fill up on healthy foods first so when you reach for the yummy stuff, you won't eat as much. Even though this is not sneaking, eating well will assist you in the process of trying to keep it together during the holidays. While running around town being super Mom, it may be a good idea to take along some healthy snacks to avoid eating fast food on the road.
8. Plan ahead for travel. Traveling or going to family for the Holidays, then plan ahead. Find out if they have any exercise equipment at their home or a gym near by. Pack accordingly and attempt to make a plan.
9. Create your sneak time around your house. Let's face it, driving to and from the gym is going to get harder and harder during this time of the year (kids are out of school, it may be cold where you live, and there is a lot to get done). Don't just look at the house as a place to do laundry, cook meals, hang with the family, and answer e-mails. Create a space within your house that is for exercise.
Remember that it's not hopeless, and that your mind, body, spirit, and sanity are worth fighting for. If you can keep it balanced, you will be more jolly and less like a grinch.
I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!