When you’re a busy modern woman with endless social and professional engagements, you need to aggressively schedule and organize your life in order to accomplish everything. Especially as the year winds down, and more events are added to your calendar daily, it can seem overwhelming to maintain every aspect of your life. Often, as women, we push our own needs and well-being to the back burner when other obligations are looming, and this can include our fitness routine. I know how easy it can be to slip into skipping a session at the gym or to say, “I’ll worry about it later.” But when it comes to your health, and keeping up your look and personal brand, why would you let yourself go at this time of year when you don’t at others?
Making sure you’re still getting the right amount of exercise is more important now than ever. Keeping up with your healthy habits is the best way to ensure that you have the energy necessary to tackle those endless obligations, to still fit into and look fabulous in all of your holiday party outfits and to even enjoy the occasional treat. I fully believe that making the effort to stay in shape over the holidays pays off doubly come the New Year. No need for resolutions that might be broken, and no guilt over letting yourself slide! I’ve compiled a few tips on how to keep in shape over the season of excess.
1. Stick to your routine.
Don’t let anything knock you off the wagon. I always try to maintain my workout schedule and eat as close to my normal diet as possible, regardless of the time of year. Defend your exercise time and don’t let other things get in the way. Sustaining your self-discipline and not allowing yourself to make an exception in one instance means it’s easier to avoid making more and more exceptions.
2. Focus on short bursts of intense effort.
In order to fire up your metabolism and make the most of small windows of spare time in your day, find ways to get in some quick cardio. Don’t take the elevator all the way to your floor, instead run up a few flights of stairs. Hop on the treadmill or elliptical while reviewing for a presentation or meeting, or in between various functions. Switch to a high-intensity interval workout and you can spend half as much time at the gym while seeing the same results.
3. Avoid common pitfalls.
That buffet table at the party which everyone crowds around to chat and snack. The endless hors d’oeuvres on small silver platters held by servers circulating galas. Those cups of egg nog and sweet ciders. I know just how much temptation surrounds us all in the name of celebrating. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy good food, but you have to think smart about how you’re going to indulge.
If you know you’re going to be attending an upscale dinner party, eat light but filling meals earlier in the day, and ask if there are menu options which fit your dietary regime. Before going to a more generic function which will have standard catered foods, often as not reheated from frozen and not particularly tasty or good for you, eat beforehand so you won’t want to bother with the subpar offerings available. If you’re going to drink, stick to your usual wine or spirit order, and avoid the sugary holiday specials.
4. De-stress for better self-control.
Many of us are more likely to eat emotionally or make poor decisions when we’re feeling stressed out. Stress hormones can make us crave unhealthy junk or feel too tired to exercise, even when our bodies are just fine. The holidays can be a source of additional stressors for everyone. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead — getting gift shopping, party planning and other tasks out of the way to give yourself more peace of mind. If you can, delegate some of these additional duties to an assistant so you have more time to focus on the things which require your personal input or presence. Treat yourself with a massage to reduce tension.
5. Sleep enough and hydrate often.
With all the parties and celebrations lasting late into the night multiple times a week, you can end up missing out on a lot of sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re far more likely to skip out on exercising and to choose unhealthy foods, and worst of all, your body slows its metabolism. I find that sleeping enough can prevent me from picking up a lot of bad habits over the holidays. As a bonus, leaving events before they’ve run into the wee hours forces you to be more efficient with your time — you’ll spend it speaking with the most important people to connect with and have less of it to spend consuming unhealthy party fare.
One of the most important and overlooked factors in keeping fit over the holiday season is getting enough water. I always try to make sure I have a glass near me, order it instead of drinks with dinner, and make sure I hydrate properly before, during, and after working out. Not only will consuming more water save you the empty calories of more alcohol or seasonal drinks, but it will keep your energy up and your mind sharp, so you can be at your best. Water also helps you to feel more full, so you’ll be less tempted by the treats available.
These strategies work wonderfully for me, and I hope they will be of use to you as well. I wish you the best of luck in avoiding the holiday bulge while still enjoying everything the season has to offer!