Stocking-Stuffer Strategies to Stay the Course During the Holidays

The holidays are here again and, as we all know, the month of December is one of the biggest threats to both the dietary and exercise regimens to which we have so faithfully adhered since, well, the end of the last holiday season.

This article presents five strategies to help you keep your healthy lifestyle intact during the holidays. Some of these strategies you have perhaps heard before. However, as is often the case, we need repetition before we can incorporate a significant change into our lives.

1. Enjoy Your Holiday

You may be surprised to discover that the amount of activity necessary to maintain what fitness levels you have achieved is less than the amount required to produce change. In other words, if you can continue exercising at least two days per week and maintain your intensity it is likely you will not lose much of your fitness gains. In addition, it will also not feel like you are starting over when you resume your normal routine.

2. Consider a Present for Yourself

How about putting a big red ribbon around a personal trainer for a few sessions; new weight lifting equipment; new aerobic exercise equipment? Invest in something you want and will use. You owe it to yourself. Rewards are healthy and fun.

3. Try Some New Exercises

I have incorporated some new exercises into my routine that I learned from two of my students who play football. These exercises include an aggressive routine for the upper body and core (step ups done with the arms); a few high-intensity yoga moves and modest “plyometric” exercises. These exercises present a new challenge, and have been very helpful in keeping my program fresh. The fact that I can do these exercises (sort of) is a big boost to my self esteem.

4. Take the Time to Learn About Health and Fitness

Consider exploring the Web pages for the National Strength and Conditioning Association ( and American College of Sports Medicine ( Both of these organizations have lay public information that is invaluable.

5. Attitude Change

There is a difference between “training” and “working out”. Whenever you talk about your exercise, use the term “training” instead of “working out”. Tell your spouse or friend that you are “off to train” not “going to work out”. “Training” implies long-term commitment while “working out” has no such implication.

Happy Holidays!

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