Coach Micki Pauley teaching a Warrior Body class in Morgantown, West Virginia
The holidays are right around the corner and for many this means slowing down fitness routines, but for myself and other fitness professionals, it becomes important to find ways to show our clients and help them keep their health a priority during one of the busiest times of the year.
I get it—friends and family come in to visit, tons of traveling takes place, our lives get out of sync, but the one thing that can stay in sync is your health routine, or at least there are ways to make modifications to help keep your health a priority. While the holidays are an exciting time they can also be very stressful, so this is the time to keep up with as much of a fitness and nutrition routine as possible.
5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Now
Last year I did a one-month holiday special for the entire month of December and included nutrition, Warrior Body workouts, access to a private Facebook page for additional coaching, along with other helpful resources. My goal was to keep individuals motivated and excited. I wanted to show them that waiting for the holidays to be over to regain their fitness routine shouldn’t be an option.
My first tip for you is to start now. Find a program that works for you and get started. I can hear some of you saying:
“Well, I don’t want to start now because the holidays are coming and I will just have to stop.”
“I have to save my money for holiday shopping.”
“Eh, I will just wait until the holidays are over. I want to enjoy them.”
The last sentence really gets me, “I want to enjoy them.” I must be honest, I never did understand that statement because why can’t the holidays be enjoyed while also taking care of yourself?
Oh, because you don’t think you can have a slice of grandma Ester’s best homemade apple pie? Shoot, I know I am going to! The best part is, my body is going to burn it off quicker because I take care of it and workout regularly. Do you see what I mean? Also, eating sweets isn’t my everyday nutrition so I am able to enjoy that slice of apple sweetness even more.
My second tip—really let this sink in—don't feel obligated to eat all of the treats given to you. I often hear that individuals feel bad for not eating the pumpkin pie made by a friend or the coworker's famous sugar cookies. If you don’t want it, you don’t want it. However, if you do want it, take some of each and enjoy it. There is no sense in stressing out about it.
My third tip is to be prepared. If you know you are going to a holiday party and are afraid of being ravenous the eat before you go. I often tell my clients to eat a small meal or snack before heading to the party so that way they can still consume foods they enjoy but aren’t so hungry they clear the entire buffet.
Extra fun tip before we head to tip number four—if you are heading into a nutrition program with a “diet” mentality, chances are this isn’t going to work out well for you. Diets are meant to be short term, but if you are looking to make lasting changes then stepping outside of the mindset that foods are off limits or that you can't have something anymore tends to make us want it that much more.
My tip number four is to balance your system. The more balanced your nutrition is the more satisfied your body becomes. Going low carb is not always the answer. Not eating at all because you have a party to go to and you want to save your calories isn’t the answer either. Make sure you are consuming a protein, a healthy fat, a vegetable and/or fruit.
Intentional carbohydrates (such as your grains) come in handy around your workouts. When our bodies are fed healthy, whole goodness it helps to kick our metabolism up a notch and make us fat burning machines.
Tip number five is critical—don't miss your workouts! Remember when I said that our lives get out of sync? Well, if you can’t make it to the gym for your regular workout because cousin Larry is in town visiting, keep in mind that there are plenty of quick, at home options to dive into for when the gym just isn’t an option.
Holiday Workout Options to Stay on Track
My clients know that I am a big fan of tabatas. In fact, I wrote an article about them because when used correctly they are super effective and can take up to as little as four minutes.
So what is a tabata? It is a four minute, high-intensity workout that can include anywhere between 1-4 exercises. You do work as hard as you can for 20 seconds and then you give yourself a 10-second rest before hitting it hard again. Depending on how many exercises chosen and which they are, the 10 seconds rest can quickly become the transition period between exercises.
If you don’t want to tabata other great formats are AMRAPs (as many rounds as possible). For this type of workout, you set a timer for whatever duration you choose–I typically start at 10 minutes, but you can go for 15, 20, even 30 minutes. However long you choose, set a timer, choose your exercises and complete as many rounds as possible in that timeframe.
The goal is to get your heart rate up and get a good sweat in.
You can say that I have “been there, done that” when it comes to health and fitness. I used to be that girl who would eat super clean, down to the final crumb, during the holiday festivities. It wasn’t because I wanted to; it was because I was too afraid to deviate from my plan.
I found that it’s not just the holiday meals that make the difference, but all the other meals I eat year-round, every day. Those are the meals that matter. Don’t sabotage your health and fitness goals–make them a part of your life and enjoy the holidays.
Below are sample exercises you can do to put in either a tabata or AMRAP:
- Mountain Climbers
- Jump Squats
- Push Ups
- Sit Up/Stand Up (perform a normal sit up, but come all the way to standing)
- Sprinter Sit Up
Example Tabata: Alternate between mountain climbers and sit up/stand ups (start in a sit up position and go all the way to standing.) You can remove one of the exercises and just do one for a tabata or add three more exercises and have a total of four.
Example AMRAP: Set timer for 10-20 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible.
10 Mountain Climbers (each side) 10 Push Ups 10 Sit Up/Stand Ups 10 Jump Squats 20 Second Planks