Fitting in a workout session and maintaining a clean diet in between work, with a busy schedule of picking up the kids, making dinner, buying gifts and attending holiday events seems, well, impossible during this time of year. However, with a few tricks, sticking to your wellness goals can be an imperfect, but far from impossible, journey. Three local fitness trainers spoke with Exhale and shared exactly how they stay healthy — no strict New Year’s resolutions required.
What is the best way to fit in a workout between the many social obligations of the holiday season?
Jan Taylor: Every day, I give my clients a four-minute Tabata workout, which is a type of interval training. There are eight rounds with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Every morning we do two exercises in that style, like jumping jacks and planks.
If the person has more time in the morning, they can go two or three times. But at the minimum they’re getting in those four minutes of pretty intense cardio moves. It’s quick, gets the heart rate up and gets people engaged.
So much of what happens this time of year is people take their foot off the gas, they stop doing their regular workouts and then it’s so much harder to get back into it. But, if we keep doing at least one quick interval each day, the mindset stays focused on fitness instead of wallowing about failing to make a workout and having to start from scratch.
Jessica Diaz: There are so many great streaming workouts on Youtube, but also, I think we get in our minds that it has to be a full hour workout to count. I’ve been guilty of this before. If I can’t get to that hour class, then I forget it altogether. But, you can do something as simple as three minutes of jump roping in the morning. Or break it up: You can do a quick 10 minute workout in the morning and a 5 minute one in the afternoon.
Erin Madore Wilcox: As a personal trainer, I try to encourage my clients to work out before showering in the morning. This is a time of year with 10 times more stuff going on than normal, and it’s easy to have the day run away from you. It becomes harder to work out later in the day with attending holiday parties in the evenings. Wake up 15 minutes earlier.
I also suggest people do pen to paper planning. You can print out a blank calendar and write in your fitness goals for the week. Even having that moment of actually writing down what you’re planning to do is extremely powerful and can help you stay focused. I always say it’s nice to have a Sunday date with yourself where you sit down, look at the week ahead and come up with a solid plan. Especially if you’re doing at least 10 minutes of movement in morning. Maybe also signing up for classes at night so you have it on your calendar as an appointment.
Is it possible to stay on track with a mindful and healthy diet while still indulging in holiday food, treats, and alcohol?
Jan: Right now, I’m doing something called the Holiday “Kind of” Cleanse. What I focus on this time of year in my membership group is helping people understand the gray area: Something is better than nothing.
For example, I’m doing this 5-day “Kind of” cleanse with a group and we’re mapping out the week and putting our holiday parties in, and then being clean and healthy all around that.
It’s about making sure we start the day with a smoothie or having a plant-based meal that’s filling and has healthy fats, so that I’m not starving myself when I’m going to a party and overdoing it and then the cycle of giving up continues.
Jessica: If you’re eating balanced and healthy and the occasional treat isn’t going to derail you, then enjoy it. Don’t let it be all or nothing. Don’t let one treat deter you from staying on your long-term path.
If you’re attending a holiday event, I would recommend to not go hungry. I would eat a healthy and filling meal beforehand because if you show up starving, you’ll end up over indulging.
Erin: Choose one thing that day and enjoy it. I enjoy a piece of white chocolate at the end of the night, and I look forward to it all day.
After a certain point, it becomes mindless eating versus mindful enjoying.
In terms of alcohol, I always have a huge glass of water after each alcoholic drink. Also, eat healthier than normal throughout the day, knowing you’re going to have an indulgent evening.
What is your current favorite wellness hack or advice?
Jan: My favorite mindset hack is when I’m feeling resistant or negative towards anything, I say to myself, “Spirit please reinterpret these feelings for me.” You can say, universe, God, whatever it is. I say it over and over, and every time I will feel the tension release. I say it to myself until I don’t need to anymore.
Jessica: Something I talk to my clients a lot about is being mindful about their fitness routine. I don’t mean being present and breathing, but having a more varied approach to fitness as they would with eating.
I see a lot of routine-driven behavior that doesn’t have results because people aren’t listening to their bodies and a lot of times, are not enjoying it. When things become a routine, you lose that extra motivation to push yourself.
I advise my clients to match the intensity and type of workout with how they feel so it’s less routine and more about how your body feels. For example, on their super busy days, maybe doing a bootcamp class isn’t the best. Instead of taking a relaxing yoga class on Sundays, which is usually already a relaxing day, wouldn’t it be better to take it on a Thursday when you’re feeling stressed out?
It’s also about finding the exercise type that you like enough so you’re getting those endorphins from your workout. If you’re thinking the whole time, I hate this, I hate this, you end up short changing yourself.
Erin: Laying out what you need for a workout the night before so it’s really easy in the morning to get up and go.
Having an accountability buddy is huge, too. My mother-in-law lives in Connecticut, and she’s been getting up early and working out and we text each other. Knowing that, it makes me get up in the morning and same for her.
There are three women in my group [of clients] who are really focused and hardcore and even sleep in their workout clothing at night, so they can just get up and get going straight away in the morning. They swear by it.