If you're like me during the holidays, you may find it very easy to fall out of your routine. Family stuff, festivey stuff, money stuff, stressy stuff, relaxy stuff. Whatever it is, somehow the holiday and new year season has its way of shifting priorities and bringing in its own rhythm.
(Now, that's not at all to say that it HAS to. I know many people who carry on through the holidays with their eating and fitness like any other time of year and that’s totally fine too. Kudos! Notice I said "shifting priorities" not "ruining your progress" or "taking over". WE are 100% in charge of that.)
But every November, I personally am fully aware of the shift during this time of year, and you know what? I'm not really mad at it. It's ok to know that "to everything there is a season" and just go with the sleeping-in, no-schedule, extra-cookie, cheese-filled flow…once in a while.
Photo credit: httpswww.hgtv.comoutdoorsgardensgarden-to-tablehow-to-assemble-a-holiday-cheese-board
Just don't stay there.
So again, if you're like me, you might be looking to kinda get back into the groove now. Double down and dig in? Or maybe you're starting brand new into wanting a healthier lifestyle for yourself and/or your family. If so, I'd like to share the first few things that I focus on to make that happen. These are super beginner-friendly, but can also help rein in even the most seasoned fitness-junky out there who may have fallen off track.
I choose these things specifically and also recommend them to clients because they are EASY to implement and act as “gateway habits” to bigger things. They DO require a bit of discipline. But no motivation. (Motivation is a fickle mistress….see my many posts in the past on the subject. DISCIPLINE is all up to you. No matter how many trainers, chefs, meal services, gym memberships you have - MOTIVATION alone will not make you successful with any of them. Because she comes and goes. DISCIPLINE in each, however, will.) ANYWAY. Discipline. Do it. Here we go…
1. Drink Your Water. This is a perfect starting point for me (and most people) for lots of reasons. Most of us are not drinking enough water. Coffee, yes. Pop/soda, yes. But actual, pure, H2O? Probably not. Reasons why I start with this goal in a habit-changing plan:
100% in your control - EVERYONE can do it! Woohoo!
Easy to do (I mean physically - the actual drinking part, not necessarily the remembering part).
Makes an instant a positive change in your body (every part of your bod works better when it’s given the correct amount of water to work with).
“Gateway/snowball” habit (it builds to other things) - if you incorporate this all-day-long healthy habit into your life, chances are you’ll be thinking healthier in general all day long as well.
“Eliminator” habit (it automatically eliminates some existing bad habits you may have) -if you are drinking the correct amount of water all day long, you’re less likely to drink other (caloric or sugary) stuff and more likely to be fuller between meals as well.
2. Limit Your Fast Food. Some of you might not eat fast food to begin with - awesome! Some might eat it everyday. In our family, we eat it in moderation, but it can become a slippery slope. And though super convenient at times, especially when you’re running errands like crazy and have a car full of hangry people, it’s not anything you want to make a habit if you’re looking to better your health.
Another habit that’s fully in your control. YOU have the POWAH!!
Notice I said - LIMIT - not eliminate. Pick a number that’s less than the times per week you go now, and stick to it. (You grab drive-thru 4x/week? Try limiting yourself to 2.) Instant improvement.
This is another habit that can really make you feel better right away. If you eat it all the time, you may not even notice what it’s been doing to your insides. Cutting back will really start to illuminate how crappy that kind of food can make you feel and can help as a deterrent in and of itself.
Photo credit: https://www.mtv.com/news/2191481/patrick-star-soul-mate-spongebob-squarepants/
3. Limit Your Drinking. Did you find yourself indulging a bit more these last few months? Holidays have a way of doing that. Christmas party? Cheers! Out to dinner with family from out of town? Cheers! Tuesday morning brunch at Grandmas! Cheers….?! I don’t have to explain the fine details to you on the overall health benefits of cutting back on your alcohol intake, so we’ll just hit a few other points.
You’ll make better choices (food-wise especially). You know that saying, “nothing good happens after midnight”? Well, nothing good happens for your diet after a couple cocktails. And plus - science! Your body uses alcohol to burn as a fuel source before anything else, which leaves it storing that charcuterie board you were nibbling on in places you don’t want!
If nothing else, just save it for the weekend. (Or pick any other day or two that works for your life.) I found myself falling into the habit of “unwind after work” more than anything else. Replace it with a cup of tea or your favorite low-calorie drink of choice. (water & flavor packet, Bubly, LaCroix, etc.)
Instant improvement in caloric intake. There are soooo many empty calories in alcohol. Many clients notice a change in their body by making even just this one change.
4. Increase Your Activity. Again, notice I didn’t say “start going to the gym 5 days/week!” Just increase from wherever you’re at right now. Doing nothing? Take the dog for one walk a week. Work in an office? Set your alarm to go off twice a day and do 10 squats and 10 chair dips at your desk. Sorta still on that grind? Add one extra gym session to your schedule.
Doing ANYthing active really increases your chances of also eating better as well. I find they go hand-in-hand mentally for us when trying to incorporate healthier habits.
In theory, this will also instantly reduce your overall caloric balance throughout the week.
Again, another one that’s totally in your control. A little bit harder in the motivation department, but we aren’t working with motivation, we’re working with discipline. Set yourself some parameters and stick to them. (Think, “I take the stairs now.”, or before TV time, “I owe myself 20 squats.” ANYthing is going to kickstart your brain into a healthier mindset which will help turn into a lifestyle change.)
Photo credit: Me. This is my very serious do-a-workout-even-if-it's-at-home-and-in-your-livingroom-on-the-floor face.
So what do you think? Sound like something you can work with? I think you can! Let’s work on stepping out of that gravy boat of holiday indulgence and onto the lifelong train of health! (Sorry, that was pretty cheesy - sounded better in my head. Oh, and put down that cheese.) Be well!!
Cassandra R. Bradin is a certified personal trainer who is passionate about the essential idea of longevity in training, creating programs that enhance function, mobility, strength and internal well-being. She specializes in weight loss, Olympic weightlifting, nutrition, and fitness for seniors. With a full-time career in fitness, when she's not working with clients in her studio or coaching, Cassandra enjoys spending time on her mini farm in Oakland, MI.