As a healthcare professional, it is difficult enough to find the time to work out the rest of the year. When you add the holiday season to the mix, exercising drops to the bottom of your priority list as chores, commitments, responsibilities, and obligations multiply. With that said, staying active and keeping fit can help you relieve some of the pent-up stress you are no doubt carrying, and of course, help burn off some of the extra calories from those delectable seasonal treats and dishes you may be eating. Here are six tips on how to motivate yourself to stay active and keep fit during this holiday season.
Work out with a partner or group
Finding the motivation to exercise is one of the hardest parts of committing to a fit lifestyle, especially around the holidays. It’s very easy to put it off to another day when you only have yourself to convince. On the other hand, exercising with a friend or a group of people generates some social pressure to keep you accountable. With a workout partner, there is the additional benefit of supporting each other.
Not only that but the friendly atmosphere and sense of camaraderie you get from hanging out with like-minded people provides a much-needed distraction from the bad weather. If you are doing an at-home workout, consider joining a live class on a fitness app, Zoom, or Instagram. This is a great winter option that doesn’t require you to go out and brave the cold.
Schedule time to exercise
If we are being honest, the holiday season is usually very busy, and as a medical professional, your schedule is already strained. A 45 to 60-minute workout is simply not realistic, but this doesn’t mean you can’t participate in some form of physical activity. You can still perform your fitness routine, even if that means you only have 10 to 15 minutes to yourself here and there.
When you schedule specific time blocks on your calendar for exercise, then you are more likely to stick to your workout regimen. To ensure that you prioritize your fitness goals, start by reviewing your week ahead. This will help you figure out the ideal time to exercise. So pencil your workouts in your planner or phone calendar to make exercise a regular part of your day.
Find creative ways to stay active
On the days when you simply cannot afford to go on a walk or hit the gym, you can still squeeze in some physical activity. Keeping fit does not entail following a strict workout plan or buying a bunch of equipment that you probably won’t end up using more than once. You just have to find creative ways to stay active. For instance, when you’re gift-shopping for the holidays, park your car a bit farther away so you can walk all the way to the mall and back. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
When coming home from work, change from your scrubs to workout gear and switch out your scrub hat for your cutest winter beanie. This simple goal puts you in the right mindset and provides you with that push you need to get moving. Bundle up the family and enjoy winter activities, from ice skating and skiing to snowshoeing and snowboarding. Go swimming in a warm indoor pool or layer up and tackle some outdoor chores. There are plenty of ways to keep fit this winter even without a trip to the gym.
If you are traveling during the holidays, planning in advance can make all the difference, in particular when it comes to keeping up with your workout routine. So take the time to examine your options and prepare ahead of time. For instance, if you know that you will be staying with your family, figure out if there are any gyms nearby that allow guests to drop in and use their facilities. If that’s not an option, you can inquire about day passes or you can ask family and friends whether they have any basic gym equipment you can use.
In case you’re staying in a hotel, call and check if they have fitness amenities. You should also plan simple workouts that you may be able to squeeze in wherever you’re at a relative’s house or in your hotel room. This way you can head into the holidays with sensible expectations and the reassurance of having a plan. In addition to that, you can search for walking trails and tracks in the area you’re traveling to and organize an outing with your family members to stay active together.
Eat and drink sensibly
While eating a healthy diet is part of keeping fit, you don’t have to completely abstain from your favorite seasonal dishes. Restricting yourself to certain foods and eliminating others will only make you eat more. Feel free to indulge in the treats that you love, just watch your portion sizes.
You should also try to sneak in some fruit and vegetables throughout the day in addition to drinking plenty of water. It is best to monitor your alcohol intake as well as any sodas or juices since they will only contribute more calories to what you’re already eaten. When heading out to visit friends and relatives, don’t go on an empty stomach. Make sure you get a quick healthy snack beforehand to avoid overeating.
Focus on the mental health benefits
Most people who start exercising feel frustrated because they cannot see the results of their labor immediately. They don’t feel fit and healthy right away and this takes a toll on their motivation, discipline, and consistency. While physical changes take a while to show up, it’s important to note that the mental benefits of a fitness routine take place almost immediately.
When you make a habit of working out and you put in the effort to stay active, you will feel happier, more relaxed, and less stressed. This is especially important because the hectic nature of the holiday season causes many people to feel overwhelmed. So instead of fixating on losing a particular amount of weight or getting down a size, focus on how invigorating, energizing, and calming exercising makes you feel.
Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast can struggle with keeping fit in winter. The harsh weather makes it incredibly hard to get out of bed, let alone exercise. With these tips, you can now motivate yourself (and your family) to stay active during the holiday season!