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Handling the Holidays

The holidays are upon us! It's exciting to think about hanging out with friends and family (safely!), enjoying a large, home-cooked meal, and taking a break from our everyday routine. This often means consuming more treats: sugar, alcohol, bread and butter.

Mmmm. Bread and butter.

With these indulgences, and with the time spent with extended family, sometimes we fall off the wagon of fitness and can also get stressed out. Our brains sneak up behind us and whisper, "You deserve a break. Have another glass." Its fine to indulge every once in a while--that's what holidays are for!

Keeping up with fitness and stress relief doesn't have to take a back seat, however. You can indulge in feasts and drinks, and still maintain your fitness, and it can be relatively easy to do. Try these suggestions to mitigate the effects of the holidays:

  1. Habit Stacking. This is the process of combining a new habit with an old one, in order to create a new habit. For example, if you shower every morning, you might consider doing a certain number of push-ups or air squats before showering, each day, say, 10 each? You don't have to increase the number, either--just creating this habit will help you to keep moving each day. You could stack simple things like wall sits with social media time, burpees before brushing your teeth, or doing a few good mornings in the morning while waiting for the coffee to be ready. Pairing a new activity with an existing habit can build your brain synapses and increase the likelihood of keeping up with the new habit. (James Clear outlines this in this blog post.)

  2. Daily Cardio. Doing some form of cardio, every single day, can help mitigate the possible negative effects of holiday meals and parties. Make sure to schedule in a long walk with the dog, a short walk with yourself, a 5-minute HIIT IT blast, or a tabata or two. If you can't make it into the gym, make sure you do some sort of cardio each day. You've got 5 minutes. Burpees are always there for you.

  3. Meditate. Taking just a few minutes every day to breathe deeply and intentionally can help to reduce stress, lower your heart rate, and bring some focus and clarity to your mind. You might try "box breathing:" visualize a square in front of you. Starting a the top-left, "draw" a line to the right as you inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds drawing the next line down, exhale for 4 seconds as the line goes across, then hold your breath again for 4 seconds drawing the last line up. Repeat 3 times.

  4. Eat a salad every day. Ensuring you eat some raw vegetables each day will help you to feel better, move your bowels, get important nutrients in, and help keep you from overeating (if that's a concern).

  5. Set boundaries and enforce them. If you know that particular family members will be attending a party, and you know those particular family members are particularly toxic, but your presence is expected, then you have some choices to make. You can choose not to attend, and deal with the disappointment. You can choose to attend for a predetermined time period, and leave when your alarm goes off. You can make sure your partner is with you to mitigate the toxicity and remind you which battles to fight. No matter what you choose, keeping your boundaries helps to keep your sanity, and you don't have to be combative about it. "Yes, mom, I can come, but I can only stay until 6pm." There's nothing combative about that. When 6pm comes, say your good-byes and leave. Then practice your breathing in the car on the way home.

If you are in town, lifting heavy sh*t is ALWAYS recommended, so make sure you schedule time in the gym for fitness and stress relief. Endorphins are good things. Because you’ve got a women’s only gym in your life, your fitness is already ahead of the game. Enjoy the holidays, and ensure your health along the way: physical, mental, and emotional.

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