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Stay Fit Through the Holidays

Stay Fit Through the Holidays
By Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, ACE

During a busy time like the holidays we all tend to neglect our health. However, being in top physical condition helps us best manage the demands of a season that is full of activity... and stress.

By exercising regularly and making nutritiously-sound food choices, you will be in tip-top shape for handling the excessive load that the holidays can often bring. Wouldn't it be great to enjoy the holiday season while feeling invigorated, rather than stressed and fatigued?

Read on to find out how exercising through the holidays will not only help you manage the additional stressors, but also put you one step ahead of your health-oriented New Year's resolutions.

Create new traditions -- Instead of the usual baking fest, consider training for an event with your family like the 'Turkey Trot' or 'Jingle Bell Run.' Having a physical goal in mind such as training for a 5K run will help you stay on track with your workouts. Even fun and traditional holiday activities such as caroling through the neighborhood on foot, marching in a holiday parade or sledding down the town hill will burn calories and keep the heart pumping. You and your family may be delighted with some new activity-based family customs and not even miss all of the lard and sugar you will be avoiding in the process.

Manage your time -- If you start holiday shopping early and pre-plan the parties you wish to attend, you will not feel as pressured to give up your exercise sessions. Try putting all of your workouts in your planner for the months of November and December, and stick to them just as you would any other important appointment. Be firm about keeping that commitment and resolve to maintain good health through these notoriously decadent months.

Review your goals and priorities -- Your life has many important aspects (family, work, spiritual growth, recreation and health) that can be especially hard to balance around the holidays. Studies have shown that those who take care of their health, specifically through exercise, are better able to take care of others and achieve balance in all of life's areas. If you cease to exercise during the holidays, the stressors of the season may feel even greater. Taking a little time for your physical fitness will most certainly pay off in all areas of your life.

Find a buddy -- Studies have shown that couples who exercise together increase their chances of sticking to their program by 90 percent. If your resolutions for 2002 sound very familiar to those made in 2001, 2000, 1999 and so on, it may be time to enlist a significant other. Discuss your weaknesses and give your partner both permission and techniques that will help you avoid skipping your workout. Commit to helping each other in moments of doubt or procrastination. You will be surprised how partners can feed off each other's energy, and push yourselves to a new level of fitness and accomplishment. Wouldn't it be great for the both of you to start off the New Year with some new healthy habits and a fit body to show for it?

Measure your progress -- Knowing your starting point and tracking your improvements throughout the holidays will inspire you to continue. Get out the scale, stopwatch, camera and measuring tape to record your starting points. Create a folder or journal to store your stats, along with workout cards, inspirational pictures and personal goals. This will be a good comparison and motivator as you are progressing or if you reach a plateau. Re-evaluate your level of fitness and compare your improvements from today to that of January 1, 2002. You may be delighted at how much stronger, flexible and fit you are.

Put fitness gear on your holiday list -- If anyone asks what you want this holiday season, politely reply that you would prefer a gift certificate to the gym, a new pair of running shoes, a heart rate monitor or a new workout tape. You will get a lot more mileage from new workout apparel than a bottle of your favorite bubbly.

Take advantage of winter activities -- If you live in a cold climate -- the world is your gym. Consider cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice-skating. If you live in a warm climate, go for a bike ride, walk or swim. Outdoor activities will add to the mental and spiritual dimensions of physical activity and help keep your holiday anxiety to a minimum.

Workout first thing in the morning -- If you complete your workout as your very first task of the day, then there won't be unexpected obstacles to your workout time. During the holidays there is a greater chance of alternate activities in the evenings. So plan ahead by working out first thing in your day. Your body will get used to the morning exercise routine, giving you added energy for holiday shopping.

The gym is quiet -- When Halloween rolled around, enrollment at the gym probably started to decline, and will continue until the end of December. This is a great time to join before the New Year's rate increase and the trainers are too busy to guide you through a thorough orientation. All of the equipment will be available and personal trainers may be able to give you some complimentary attention.

Convenience is a factor -- If you find you don't have time to go to the gym, break out the workout videos, dust off the home equipment or resort to basics like walking, sit-ups and push-ups. Do what you can to pick up the pace and find creative ways to fit in activity.

Sign up for some lessons -- If you commit to dance lessons throughout the holidays, not only will you have built in some enjoyable exercise time, but you will be able to show off all of your latest moves on New Year's Eve. You may want to sign up for a winter session of kickboxing, tennis, or swimming. Choose an activity that you think you will enjoy and consider signing up for the follow up course in the spring. You may even be motivated to enter a competition and bring your fitness to a whole new level.

If you continue waiting until next Monday, then you'll wait until January and then you'll wait until spring. There's no time like today to begin your quest for improved physical fitness. You're far more likely not to slip into patterns of inactivity if you address them ahead of time and are prepared with alternatives. Have a safe, happy and fit holiday season and New Year!

Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, 2004 Personal Trainer of the Year - Online Training. Kelli is a 20 year fitness industry leader. She has 3 fitness related degrees and 24 Fitness, Nutrition and Lifestyle related certifications. Kelli is the former Lead Fitness Expert for eDiets and eFitness and remains a regular contributor. Kelli is the author of Feminine, Firm & Fit - Building A Lean Strong Body in 12 Weeks She has transformed thousands of bodies just like yours. She is available for phone coaching, online training, grocery shopping tours, seminars, and media opportunities. For more information go to
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