Fall Back into Fitness
Summer is basically over, and fall is coming up fast. The promise of cooler weather (eventually, at least) and holiday gatherings is always exciting. But we all know what usually happens once Halloween hits – before we know it, our diet has slipped a little, we’ve worked out a little less, and then Thanksgiving comes and goes, then Christmas, then New Year’s… and all of a sudden, we find ourselves making resolutions we’re not sure we can keep because we let ourselves go for several months. After all, it’s no secret that many people gain five to ten pounds over the holidays (if not more).
Here’s the kicker: this doesn’t have to be your story. Isn’t that an empowering thought? If you start now, when fall is fresh before us, you can prepare yourself to make it through the holiday season unscathed – and even healthier than before. Here are some strategies to help you do this.
Make a Commitment
The first step is to decide what your goal is. If your objective is to maintain your weight between now and January 1st, the commitment you make to yourself will look a lot different than someone who wants to drop a jeans size within the next month. Your goal doesn’t even have to be tied to weight or sizes or measurements. An equally valid aspiration is to attend a certain number of workout classes each week between now and the end of the year, whether it’s yoga, kickboxing, weightlifting, or something else entirely. Or you may want to aim to increase the greens in your diet, so your goal might be to have a salad or fresh juice every day.
Figure out what aspect of your health is most important to you, and then commit (in writing) to being focused on that goal from now until 2016. Make it realistic and personal, and then tell a friend or family member to help you stay even more accountable.
Be Honest with Yourself
A lot of people gain weight through the holidays because they tell small lies to themselves. “Oh, I’m only having a cocktail tonight because it’s a work event.” “I’ve gotta eat these holiday cookies because my kids made them!” “I skipped my workout today, but it doesn’t matter – it’s just one day.”
Real change will happen when you’re honest with yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and face what your biggest weaknesses are. If alcohol trips you up (which it does for many people), give yourself a one-drink rule and only allow it on weekends. Then decide what your strategy will be to stick with it. With the alcohol example, you can decide to switch to sparkling water with lime once your drink is done.
Or if treats in the office leave you powerless, choose to bring your own healthy snacks. If you have a healthier version of a muffin in your computer bag, you’re way less likely to dive into the muffins and cookies sitting in the lunchroom that are sure to be calorie-bombs.
To keep yourself on track, you need reminders of your commitment every day. Try writing a positive message on your mirror in erasable ink so you see it every time you get ready. Or select a mantra that matters to you (like “I choose health”) and write it on a sticky note on your fridge. Another idea is to take a “before” picture of your current body shape and place it somewhere you can see it regularly. The idea of taking that “after” picture on January 1st can be motivating enough to keep you on track!
As with anything, our fitness is largely the result of our daily nutrition and exercise habits. So start now to cultivate healthy, positive habits that will carry you through until the New Year. You’ll get to experience the reward of achieving your goals and reveling in total wellbeing, while the rest of the world is sadly writing half-hearted New Year’s resolutions.