In months like December, when weeks are filled with not one but two or more holiday parties on the calendar, it is more important than ever to schedule your workouts and stick to your schedule. There are stresses like year-end deadlines at work, added tasks like shopping and shipping gifts, and your eating and drinking habits are probably a bit more lax than usual. This is no time to give up on your workouts. Here are a few tricks to sticking with fitness through the crazy holiday season.
- Get a partner
Whether you walk, run, do CrossFit, Spin, or belly dance, join up with a friend, spouse, or co-worker to hold you accountable for the fitness dates you create. Workouts with a partner are more fun, can make taking new classes less intimidating, and increase your commitment and follow through. Some partners may help you have better form or turn you on to a new activity you end up loving. Studies even show that the friendly competition of working out with a partner who is fitter than you can increase the length of time you exercise. My running partners will vouch for this. I never imagined even having the ambition or desire to run more than a 5k when I started running this summer. But here I am, five months later, training for a half marathon. Partnering works. Period. Go get one.
- Block out the time
Write down your workout schedule for the week on your calendar. Perhaps your electronic calendar lets you color code different types of appointments. Mine does (see below). Let your workouts be bright orange or red (or your favorite color), so they stand out from all the other appointments. Let everyone at work know you are not available by blocking your availability for the time of your workout. If your co-workers or boss consistently ignore your blocked fitness time and schedule meetings that overlap it, perhaps you’d be better off adjusting your workout time to just prior to or just after your workday.
- Work at a higher intensity if you’re short on time
If there’s one thing I’ve learned working out at Green Mountain CrossFit, it’s that you don’t need 60 minutes of sustained movement to consider a workout complete. In as little as 4 minutes, you can get a full-body workout using a Tabata format. Try doing squats or push ups in this format and see how effective 4 minutes can feel. Or if you have 8 to 15 minutes, you can use a structure like Every Minute on the Minute or As Many Rounds (or Reps) As Possible to max out your muscles. By choosing your exercises carefully, you can effectively work every muscle in your body in the amount of time it takes for a coffee break.
- Set a goal and a reward
Setting a short-term goal for this month is a good idea if you’re apt to let your fitness schedule slide. Make sure your goal is a SMART one (see the chart below and my post about them). Have a reward attached to them. Perhaps you’ve been eyeing a new piece of fitness apparel or wanting a punch card for barre or boot camp classes. Or maybe you treat yourself to a personal training session if you attend all your fitness appointments this month. Whatever motivates you to achieve your goal will work. I believe, however, that rewarding yourself with something unhealthy (extra dessert) for healthy behavior (workouts) seems, well, self-sabotaging.
- Take advantage of the sales
If you’re motivated by bargains, than this is your time of year. Many gyms, studios, and on-line fitness shops are in the throws of offering holiday promotions. This is a great time to try something new since the price tags are often discounted as much as 50%. Check Living Social and Groupon for deals to your local fitness spots. Sometimes paying for fitness forces you to commit.
If finding a fitness-minded community to help you get excited about fitness is on your holiday list this year and you live in Vermont, I can’t say enough about the supportive folks at Green Mountain CrossFit. Never in my life have I met more talented, committed, hard-working, knowledgeable owners and trainers. They truly have everyone’s best interests in mind. I really look forward to each workout, even when it’s out of my comfort zone, because I know I’ll get expert instruction and lots of encouragement. In this great community I found two of my fitness partners and dozens of friends I look forward to seeing in each class I take. GMCF is offering 50% off their On Ramp program right now and that includes a month of free classes (including all Total Barre, Yoga, and Pilates, too!). Let me know if you’re interested in joining this community and I’ll get you a coupon.