By: Dr. Patrick O’Brien
If you are like me, you end up looking back after New Years all the way back to Thanksgiving and noticing that you didn’t really execute a good exercise plan for the holidays…”maybe I’ll get it next year”, but next year gets here and we are in the same predicament. Thanksgiving has come and gone, so now how do we get through Christmas and New Years with some version of success? Here are some tips and mindset changes that may help you navigate the party and obligation waters that are the holidays.
Be open to change
Maybe you’re a data nerd triathlete, and you only ride your time trial bike on some course that has all the Strava segments. This may blow your mind, but try riding a mountain bike or even a cruiser style bike with no data. Yes, you can actually workout without your GPS data. Be careful though, you might enjoy it.
Let’s say you are a runner, and you are visiting family out of town. Explore new routes, take time to slow down and enjoy the unfamiliar places. See if you can encourage and inspire someone in your family to come along, even if that means they ride a bike with you as you run, or you have to slow down so they can keep up. Anytime you encourage someone to be active is a gift. Who knows what you’ll ignite within them for the new year ahead.
Don’t sweat it
I am often very hard on myself if I miss a workout even if the reason is valid and there truly was no time to legitimately accomplish the workout. Remember that the holidays are a season to recharge, spend time with family, and disconnect from work for a few days. If you have to sacrifice a workout to manage these things, don’t beat yourself up about it. Move on and enjoy the season. Don’t see it as a license to quit until after New Years…that’s a slippery slope that I have slid down full speed multiple times…consider yourself warned.
If you have a plan going into the season, look at it through an honest lens and make sure it seems feasible given your obligations. Your plan can only set you up for success if it is reasonable for you and your life. Get up early and get it done before the events get rolling if that’s your only window of opportunity, sleep in late and run mid-day if you plan to slam eggnog late into the night. For me, I often plan to work out during the early afternoon on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day because my kids take a recharge nap between parties at that time. I have zero expectations for that run, but I get out there and do something. Often times I surprise myself and have a great workout. I have never once regretted it, just getting moving is a victory.
I hope you have a great holiday season with your family and friends, and manage to get in a few workouts too. Keep it all in perspective and be grateful that we get to do these things. Indulge in the holiday flavors with your people. I’ll see you on the flip side of New Year’s…where I’ll be looking back with a better perspective this time.