By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Ever feel guilty after a big holiday meal? I’ve been there. Traveling home for the holidays completely disrupts my schedule. There have been times when I’ve come back from my trip ten pounds heavier and completely unmotivated to do anything about it. That’s when it matters most to get back on track.
Being away from my regular surroundings makes it harder to exercise and make smart food choices. The easy and convenient foods are always tempting, especially around Thanksgiving, and overloaded with fat, carbohydrates, and salt. If I give in, I’ll pay the price in the form of travel weight gain.
Luckily, I’ve discovered a simple trick that helps me keep my routine even when I’m traveling. When I get back from Thanksgiving, my priority is to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle of exercise and smart choices. It works even if you don’t travel for the holidays, so keep reading to discover my surprisingly simple and fun method to shed holiday pounds.
Do you have any long term fitness goals? No matter how much you enjoy getting up early to work out, if you don’t have goals, you’re going to lose focus and fall short of your potential.
Good long-term goals can be broken down into a series of easy-to-reach short-term goals, like losing 1% body fat or gaining 1% of muscle, or simply working out for five days in a row.
Cardio for fat loss is a great way to reach a short-term goal, and can bear fruit in just a few days or a week. The first week on any fitness regimen tends to produce better results than you can expect from an average workout week. Think of this as extra motivation to get back into your fitness journey.
Fitness is an integral part of my identity. I love working out, and feel unsettled if I don’t get a workout in every day. But my schedule is so full, that sometimes even I can’t find the time to hit the gym. Having good goals helps me stay on track, and maximize my potential while still having fun.
Outsourcing is all the rage these days, so why not outsource your post Thanksgiving workout? Sign up for a special holiday exercise class. This can be helpful if you are traveling for the holidays and don’t have access to your usual facilities or equipment. But if you aren’t traveling, it’s a great way to meet new friends and recover from binge week together. You may even make new exercise buddies.
Many yoga studios and exercise groups create themes around the holidays and offer special classes that are usually lower intensity and focused on teaching participants making sure they don’t fall out of the habit. Pick your favorite social media app and do a search for “Thanksgiving Exercise Classes” to find the celebration that is right for you.
If you want to get fit and stay fit, the secret is discipline.
Fitness is not something I do; it is part of who I am. When I get up in the morning, I do sometimes feel the desire to skip a day. But when I exercise in the morning, I feel better throughout the day. I am more productive, I think better, and I am more empathetic towards other people.
I choose to identify with the version of myself with the person who has worked out for an hour in the morning.
When I wake up grumpy and lazy and unmotivated, I say to myself, “This isn’t the real you”. Then I roll out of bed and do ten pushups. Just that little bit is enough to remind me of how I feel at the end of a real workout. After I exercise I go to work happier and more energetic and I tell myself, “This is who you really are.”
Get up at your usual time. Even if you are on vacation or traveling, getting up at the same time is essential to maintaining your routine.
Get dressed in your workout uniform. How you dress changes how you think and feel. Simply wearing your workout uniform makes it more likely that you will actually exercise.
Turn on your workout music. I have different playlists for different intensity workouts. You shouldn’t use your most energetic tracks when you want to ease your way back into fitness and exercise. If you’re like me, then something soothing and energizing is the way to go. I personally like to orient my playlists based on the time of day or the intensity of my workout. Your personal mileage may vary, but just remember: there are no wrong answers—as long as you listen to your body and do what feels right.
Do a light exercise routine. If you haven’t been working out and are feeling unmotivated, simply showing up and doing something light is the best way to go. If you’ve recently eaten a large meal, some static stretching poses can feel great.
Some people can finish off a holiday meal and hit the gym for two hours. Others need to ease their way back in. If you skip exercising until after the holidays are over, start by taking it easy.
The most important thing to do is to get back out there. It doesn’t matter how much you do on your first day, or even your first week. It’s far more important that you show up everyday and enjoy yourself.
You may feel guilty and want to catch up by cramming all the exercises you missed into one big power routine. Don’t do it. It won’t be fun, and you might hurt yourself. Exercise should be fun, so if you’ve added a few pounds and skipped a few weeks, don’t start off with punishment; start with a celebration, and make your exercise routine part of that celebration. Here is a simple, low-impact return to fitness that you can begin immediately following Black Friday:
This simple workout is a great way to renew your commitment to health and fitness. After a few days of light workouts, your mind and body should be ready to ramp up to your full-speed exercise plan.
Ask your body what it needs to feel good, and what it needs to feel really great. Listen to what your body says. It might surprise you to the point where you feel a sense of gratitude this Thanksgiving.
Working out and fitness should bring sunshine into your life, so for Thanksgiving, find an exercise plan that will make you feel good about yourself and brighten your day. You can sign up for a special class, join a holiday run, or craft your own unique workout.
Why not plan your holiday exercise celebration right now?