We are right in the middle of Holiday Season, and hopefully many of us are taking advantage of the opportunity to relax and spend some much needed recuperation time with loved ones, friends, new acquaintances, OURSELVES. For most adults, we spend the vast majority of the fifty-two week year occupied by work obligations and domestic tasks. Miraculously, we also find ways to improve ourselves by going to the gym, studying, volunteering, and pursuing other personal goals. Recreational activities like company softball leagues and poker groups eat up hundreds of spare hours, and little remains for the simple sources of fulfillment, like enjoying an adult beverage on the couch with a significant other, curling up with a book that has been gathering dust on the nightstand for a few months, and cozying up by a fire with those few most precious people.
The Holidays themselves can even be stressful, with all the preparation gift-giving demands and the effort that goes into cooking for diverse groups of people—none of which seem to share the same tastes. Finding ways to accommodate and communicate with estranged family members can also be awkward, and the cumulative result of all this excitement is exhaustion. Accordingly, we all need breaks from time to time, whether we are career-oriented professionals or eager, impressionable young school children. Indulging during the Holidays is an excellent antidote for the wear and tear caused by being “on” for so much of the year. Not to mention, being physically overworked warrants an abundance of recovery and relaxation.
That said, we can not let a couple weeks of taking it easy turn into a month or more of inactivity and overindulgence. It is okay to “overdo” it once or twice, but when overdoing it becomes the norm, that is a problem and a slippery slope. The following are a few basic tips for getting back on the fitness wagon: change it up, establish a new routine, set goals, and make fitness fun. I will discuss each below.
Bad habits manifest when we lose the ability to prioritize healthy and productive behavior. The door to excess presents fewer obstacles than choosing the path of discipline, and as humans, even the strongest of us are vulnerable to the enticements of immediate gratification and convenience. We must disturb the status quo to break the bad habit—we must change it up. It can be as easy as forcing yourself into bed thirty minutes earlier than usual, but something has to change.
Along with changing it up comes establishing a new routine. Look at the month of January and decide where fitness belongs. The last thing you want to do when you are trying to make fitness a regular part of your week is get overwhelmed, so keep it simple. Decide first how much time you want to spend each week in the gym, or how many class you want to attend, and go from there. Whether it is three sessions a week for the first two weeks, or five hours of fitness a week for the month, stick to it.
Routines must reflect lifestyle and fitness goals, though, so at the same time you are establishing a new routine, set down on paper a few short- and long-term fitness goals. Be concise and specific, if you can be. Doing so minimizes the avenues by which you may talk yourself away from those goals or compromise them.
Lastly, find ways to make your return to fitness fun. To do that, reward yourself for attending class or achieving daily fitness objectives, and try to use fitness outside of the gym. Rewarding yourself is not the same thing as binging in celebration. Let moderation guide your conduct. Treat yourself to some “feel good” food and drink and explore the functionality of the movements you learn and practice in the gym. Maybe you can share those things with others and make it a collective endeavor at home.
Just like recuperation, fitness contributes greatly to our overall health and wellness, and it should be a part of our daily lives. At some times, it features far less prominently than at other times, and that is perfectly fine. When it is time to vamp up the fitness, do not be in a hurry, but do institute some beneficial changes, hold fast to your routines and goals, and make fitness a fun part of your day to look forward to.