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It’s tough to stick with training during holidays when your routine is completely out of whack, thanks to travel, family and friends gatherings, and insane amounts of food. And that means it can be hard to squeeze in Saturday morning’s long run, or to hit the gym post work when you get roped into holiday happy hours.
However, with these simple hacks, you can stay strong and motivated in your fitness goals, and avoid slacking off. Schedule a set amount of time to workout (no matter what, even if it’s 10 minutes) and maintain a healthier lifestyle (read: less spiked eggnog!), you’ll feel leaner, more energized, and mentally on top of it.
Many holiday commitments and events tend to happen later in the day, which means you should make the most of your mornings. This way you don’t have to worry about finding time later in the day — you bagged your workout for the day and can move on to what’s next.
“If mornings aren’t for you then just be sure to schedule your workouts accordingly and make sure that they’re not being put on the backburner,” says Caleb Backe, CPT and health expert for Maple Holistics. “Spending the time to plan your workouts could be the most valuable part of your week.” Last-minute events might pop up and before you know it, you can’t remember the last time you hit the gym or went for a run. Yikes.
Use a Fitness Tracker
Even if you don’t usually use a fitness tracker, the holiday season is a good time to start. “They can be a tool for motivation during this busy time. With features like target alarms, step counters, sleep trackers, and so much more, a tracker can go a long way in making sure that despite not working out as much as you normally would, you’re able to say on top of goals,” says Backe.
So, keep one on your wrist (Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch all do the trick!) and track throughout the season to stay healthy during the holidays with food, fitness, sleep, and more.
Recruit a Buddy
Accountability is key to success. So enlist a partner in crime to make sure you don’t bail on your training session. “You’re not alone in your struggle to maintain your training program, so find someone else in the same boat, and you’ve got yourself a holiday workout buddy,” Backe says. “You can limit this buddy to be just for the holidays or make it a regular habit moving forward,” he adds. Consider it a test!
Put the Holiday First in Some Cases
It’s about balance, too, and if you choose to ditch all your favorite holiday events, foods, and other activities you look forward to each year, you’ll end up deprived and burned out. This could impact your mental psyche and training for the rest of the season in a negative way.
“Although it’s important that you don’t fall behind in your training, make sure not to let your training take over your life. Use exercise as a break from your ‘holiday laziness’ but don’t obsess about it,” Backe says. “This is meant to be a time for relaxing and refocusing so if you need to let go a little on your usual training, do so.”
Do as Much as You Can
Can’t do your whole hour? Do however many minutes you can fit in — and make the most of them. “A busy holiday season is normal. With this in mind, it’s worth considering the fact that a short workout is better than no workout at all,” Backe says. “This isn’t ideal, but if you use your time wisely you can still stay on top of your progress within shorter bursts of exercise.” Just make sure to give each workout session that you do have time for your absolute all — crank up the intensity and sweat it out.