Saturday, November 12, 2011


It’s that time of year again...that time when we tend to indulge in our favorite comfort foods more than we should, when our schedules overrun our exercise plans, when we have unlimited access to holiday treats, and we try to hide the evidence under our winter wardrobes.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  Here are some tips to help you keep up with (or start) your exercise plan and keep those extra holiday calories from showing up on your scale.

Step #1:  Schedule It
Research shows that, while many people have the motivation to exercise, those that are most successful are those who have figured out how to fit it into their schedules.  Here’s a crazy idea: schedule it!  Pick a time, put it on your calendar, share your calendar, and tell everyone you know.  Personally, I found that exercising at the same time every week was easier to incorporate into my routine to the point where it became a habit.  However you schedule it, make it a priority and schedule other commitments around it.  Better yet, sign up and reserve your spot for that spinning class that books up, or plan to meet your friend for your run.  The point is that you are committed and hold yourself accountable.  And, chances are, others around you will be inspired to do the same, which can be an invaluable support system.

Step #2: Plan Ahead
Now that you are committed and you know when you’re going to exercise, you will substantially increase your chances of getting there if you plan ahead.  So, if you plan to go to the gym after work, pack your gym bag the night before (and work off a checklist so you don’t forget anything).  Why the night before?  Because, if you are running late in the morning, preparing for your workout may fall in your list of priorities.  The same goes if you’re an early morning exerciser.  Set the timer on the coffee maker, check the weather forecast the night before and set your clothes and shoes out.  And, have a back up plan.  If your meeting runs late, your child comes home sick from school, or the weather keeps you inside, that doesn’t have to prevent you from getting in your work out; you just go to Plan B.  Have a selection of 20-40 minute workout dvds to choose from at home when you just can’t get out of the house.  The point is, you are doing something. 

Step #3:  Have a Goal
So, now that you are ready to master how you can get in your workouts, let’s revisit why you are exercising.  Is there a big party coming up where you want to look your best?  Are you finding last year’s winter wardrobe feeling a little snug?  Those can be great motivators, but even more effective, in my opinion (with longer-term benefits), is finding something in which you can actively participate.  Most cities offer something along the lines of a Turkey Trot around Thanksgiving, numerous charity races throughout the holidays (which can be a great excuse for traveling to a warmer destination) and usually fun events to kick off the new year.  Whether you plan to walk a 5k or run a marathon, there is something for everyone out there; you just have to look for it.  And, chances are, working towards that will also set you well on the path to looking your best this holiday season.

Step #4: Filling up on Healthy Dishes
Holiday treats abound this time of year and self control is put to the test.  Here is one way to stack the odds in your favor: bring the healthy food.  Whether it’s an office party, school party or holiday party, sign up to bring (or seek out) the healthy food such as a fruit or veggie tray, or low fat cheese and crackers, or any healthy side dishes you make.  This ensures that you will have healthy options where ever you go.  But don’t just bring them, eat them first. By filling up on healthy foods first, you will cut down on your calorie intake at these events, which means all your hard work won’t be undone. 

Step #5:  Indulge in Moderation
Notice I recommend eating the healthy dishes first.  Not only will this ease your guilty conscience, but it leaves room for some indulgence- in moderation, of course.  Pick 2-3 side dishes or desserts that you just can’t pass up.  Serve yourself a bite-size, sample portion of these (or find someone to share with if that’s not possible) and enjoy.  But stay committed to just those 2-3 selections...and, remember, you’re not falling off the wagon, you are taking control of it.  It’s human nature to yearn for those things from which we feel we are deprived, so chuck that deprivation mentality and stick to your plan of moderation.  Then, reward yourself with a great workout and you’ll feel better than you can imagine.

Happy holidays to you and yours and may the scale be your friend this season.  Cheers!
A full time mom to her four young muses, Aimee is also a part time writer and avid runner, and is always looking to keep a perspective on motherhood, life with kids and the Great Balance.


Shannon's Tales of Motherhood said...

Moderation is what I struggle with!! These are good tips.I will have to plan my excercise as's the only way I stick to

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