The holidays are supposed to be the most joyful time of year, but to most of us it’s laden with stress. Worries of family interactions, business of shopping and long lines, disappointments, food temptations, travel hiccups.
Tackle this holiday season with a plan to command your reactions to the overwhelming stressors.
Cardiovascular exercise will boost mood by elevating endorphin levels and norepinephrine, creating a stress-free response in your body. Working out can reduce mental tension and boost self-esteem. As great as the benefits are, most Americans look at exercise as a chore, and a host of excuses gets in the way. Remind yourself that reduced stress, better self-image, and improved health and mental outlook are BENEFITS! Instead of looking at exercise as a chore, see it as a means to the end that everyone really wants for themselves.
Give yourself the gift of a healthy, happy body this holiday season. Follow these tips for incorporating more activity into your current life schedule.
Set a defined goal: I will walk 2 miles in X amount of time. I will run a 5k in March. I will lunge 50 steps carrying 20 lb. I will eat 3 servings of vegetables every day.
Start small: Walk 15 minutes every day before dinner. Start with running 5 minutes and add 1 minute during every run. Start with 20 lunge steps with no weight. Pick 1 meal to add vegetables.
Reward your good behavior: Keep a log book of your accomplishments, no matter how small. Put $1 in a jar every time you eat a vegetable. Once you have $5, go splurge on a magazine or pair of fun socks (whatever is fun for you!) After 1 week of accomplishing your new behaviors, go see a movie, or schedule a shopping date with a friend.
Multitask your workouts: Do squats and lunges at the playground while your kids swing and play. Run laps in the backyard while your kids are playing. If you have a treadmill, get your run or walk time in during your favorite TV show. Snack on veggies during your “binge” time at night in place of chips.
Make it Time-wise manageable: To avoid changing clothes and having to worry about sweat, break your workout into 5 minute chunks throughout the day. 1 set of lunges before breakfast, then another at your lunch break, a third while the kids are heading into the house after school, and another while you are watching TV.
Treat your workouts and meal prep time like a meeting: Schedule it! Don’t schedule anything on top of this time. Set a specific meal prep time each week, and schedule your workouts at least the day before if not a whole week in advance.
Distract yourself with good company: Snag a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member to join you on a walk or run. Bring extra veggies to share with your co-worker. Use the TV or a podcast during your workout time.
Keep detailed records: Keeping track of what you do will accomplish a sense of self-satisfaction. Make sure you are recording all the improvements, so you have fuel to motivate adherence to your goal.
Workout at home: Especially in our Covid-19 current situation, if you have not set up a home gym, now is the time. It doesn’t take much-a set of bands, a set of dumbbells, a jump rope, a staircase.
Make a healthy routine part of your holiday plan: Take the family to the local Y for an afternoon of basketball, walking, and swimming. Go on a hike with your best friend and exchange Christmas gifts. Go mall walking with your parents and enjoy the holiday environment. Sign up for a free week of classes at a gym and take a family member that’s in town visiting.
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