Posted by: thehungryrunner | December 8, 2010

10 Unique Ways to Take Care of Yourself — Your Fitness — During the Holidays

It’s been said before in jest but it’s worth repeating:  It’s ironic that the one time of the year that you really use the benefits of running, good nutrition and yoga, is the one time of the year that makes it difficult to keep those activities intact!

Ah, difficult…but not impossible.  With some creativity, there are numerous ways you can take care of yourself and keep your fitness intact, even during the hectic holidays.  The following are 10 practical suggestions to help you survive the holidays AND set a positive momentum for the incoming New Year (in other words, no need to set a “I need to start a fitness program” resolution – you will already have that in place!):

  1. Adopt the philosophy that taking care of your fitness will make you a better host/parent/spouse/friend during this time:  Rather than allow your fitness and related self-care to take a back seat to other “more pressing” obligations, why not reframe it – appropriately, in the opinion of The Hungry Runner – as the means of ensuring you will be helping others around you by doing so?  That way, you need not feel selfish when you take time to exercise or give yourself a yoga break; rather, you will see it as a way to set the foundation for the most enjoyable and meaningful holidays possible.
  2. Retain your normal exercise schedule, even if it’s just a 5-minute “placeholder”:  Anyone who has enjoyed the benefits of adopting a regular fitness routine will say, it’s far easier to keep the habit going than it is to get back into it after even a short period of disruption.  To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, make an effort to hold sacred those days and times you normally allocate for yoga or other workouts.  Even if all you do is perform 5 minutes of some light movement — it can be as simple as changing into your running shoes and jogging in place — this “holding place” will help you keep the habit, and when your schedule opens up again, you can resume your full workout at that point.
  3. Take advantage of “media” classes – audio workouts, DVD’s, online instruction, etc.:   True, nothing beats live instruction, but this is the one time when these other technology tools can truly be a sanity-saver.  Whether it’s your favorite exercise DVD or Wii Fit or one of my audio workouts at, consider this as your holiday back-up plan, so that actually have a shot at exiting the holidays MORE fit than you were before them!
  4. Explore new fruit and vegetable recipes:  Along with the truly decadent culinary creations, now is a great time to scope out new, interesting recipes that involve fruits and vegetables – recipes you can then use in the weeks and months after the holidays.  Maybe a whole new cooking style, or some spices you have never tried before.
  5. 10-minute workouts are terrific – but do them like you mean it!  The advice to consider short-duration workouts is not new, and indeed, a 10-minute workout can truly be an effective alternative when time is a-crunching.  But do yourself a favor, and use those 10 minutes wisely.  Even if all you do is 3-5 exercises and/or stretches, put all of your focus on the task at hand: observe good form, perform controlled, slow repetitions, and make it your goal to make each moment count.  Done this way, a 10-minute workout will leave you feeling refreshed AND bring actual results!
  6. Assemble your “outerwear kit for outdoor runs (and walks)”:  When chaos is swirling all around, there is no greater fitness sanctuary than to get outside and breath some fresh air, be it for a run or just a relaxing mid-day stroll.  But this time of the year can make doing so challenging, in light of dropping temperatures and bracing winds.  Make sure you find and collect the clothing that will keep you warm and comfortable in the chilly air, and assemble them in an easy-to-grab, central location so that you’re ready to head out whenever the opportunity hits.
  7. Don’t overlook the “little” pleasures to help you get through:  Sure, it’s important to tend to the “official” fitness activities, such as yoga, cardio, strength training, and healthy meal preparation.  But sometimes it’s those other, “support” actions that can make the difference in your ability to follow through with those activities.  Every day, give yourself at least one small pleasure, whether it’s setting the alarm 10 minutes early for some solitary reading at sunrise, an extra-long shower with some fragrant soap, listening to music you love, or concluding the evening with a cup of your favorite tea.
  8. Take deep breaths:  Such a simple, innocent act, yet one that can have a profound effect on turning your mood.  When you feel tension rising, or you’re in an exasperating situation (not that this EVER happens during the holidays!), take a moment to stop, sit or stand tall, take a few deep breaths, and use your exhales to relax your body, as though you’re blowing the stress out right along with your exhale.  Experiment with different breathing styles – abdominal breathing, pursed-lipped exhales, Ujjayi breathing, or just easy, deep breaths.
  9. Use the stairs – yours, that is:  No time to “officially” exercise today?  Take 2-3 breaks during the day, and walk up and down your stairs several times, finishing with a brief calf or hamstring stretch at the base of the stairs.  A fast and easyquick pick-me-up!
  10. If you’re going to make a New Year’s Resolution, now is the time to think about it:  While December 31st may not be the best time to overhaul your life with a major-league goal or change, sometimes it’s nice to use the incoming year as a chance to at least ponder where you’re at right now, and where you would like to go from here.  Rather than wait until the last minute to make some big-picture declaration – or go the full-blown opposite way and opt out of making a resolution completely, how about considering some small change that you can initiate come the first of the year, one that is meaningful to you at this moment?  You need not even express it overtly to others, just allow yourself the gift of possibilities for the year ahead.

Whatever your sport, whatever your holiday, there IS a way for the two to coexist in merry harmony!  Stay the course and keep renewing your commitment to yourself!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: