As we enter autumn and begin thinking about the delicious food that many holiday gatherings are centered around, it also makes sense to think about continuing with, or adding in an exercise routine. After all, exercise is one sure-fire way to prevent holiday weight gain, yet still enjoy the cheese, chocolate and wine that is sure to fall into your lap between now and January 1st.
To help you do this, I have put together “Five Courses of Action” to take to increase your odds of less weight gain over these next three months.
First, remember this quote: “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Hence, in order to have success in your fitness, it is necessary to define your goals, create a plan and figure out why you are motivated. Are you motivated to lose weight over these next three months? Why? Are you motivated to run a 10k by the end of the year? Why? Would you like to simply maintain your current weight over the holidays? When you write out your goals, you are creating the beginning of a map that will lead to your success.
Second, figure out what may get in the way of your progress. It could be time, lack of equipment, work commitments, childcare, holiday shopping, too many parties (is that possible?), or other obligations. Just know that the same things that have been getting in the way of your success will continue to hinder you unless you circumvent those roadblocks with workable solutions.
Third, if you are just beginning to exercise, or if you are going to advance what you have been doing, remember that you are not always going to be comfortable. Exercising is tough work and you must get comfortable being uncomfortable. Pay attention to your body by learning to differentiate between pain and discomfort. It is often quite uncomfortable running up a hill. Your breathing will be labored and you may not like that. It is uncomfortable, but a necessary part of being in shape. On the flip side, be aware of pains and twinges that may lead to an injury down the road. If a specific mode of exercise hurts, then find another one that suits your body better. Listen to your body and be conscious of what it can do.
Fourth, note your progress so you have a clear vision of your past when your perception may become skewed. For example, running two miles per day, 5 days per week will burn about 1000 calories per week. It may take 3 or 4 weeks to see the scale move, but over the course of 3 months, you will lose 4 pounds. Sometimes change is so slight that you feel you are not making progress. If you keep a fitness journal, you will appreciate being able to look back and see how far you have come. Understand that making small incremental changes will eventually lead to big results. Just because this year is winding down does not mean you should throw caution to the wind and wait for next year. Burning just 200 extra calories per day from now until December 31st will add up to 5.5 pounds of weight loss or 19,000 calories. Just go do it!
Fifth, accept that there will be times when you are going to backslide and miss your workouts or eat too many cookies. Everyone goes through this. When it happens, revisit your goal sheet and reconsider your motivations. Give yourself permission to amend your goals and become determined to continue moving forward one small step at a time. Do not give up!
Ending the year on a physically high note is about creating a realistic plan, listening to your body and being aware of how it feels. Find your balance, choose activities that agree with your body and be willing to work hard to achieve your desired results. It will make that holiday glass of wine and brie cheese so much better when you know you have put in the tough work!