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Fitting in Holiday Fitness

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How many of us have a difficult time of fitting some form of physical activity into our daily routine? During hectic times like Christmas, many of us simply give up without a fight, cutting back on our fitness routines because of the demands of the.

How many of us have a difficult time of fitting some form of physical activity into our daily routine? During hectic times like Christmas, many of us simply give up without a fight, cutting back on our fitness routines because of the demands of the holiday season. But my message is, "January is coming!" The longer you stay away from your routine, the harder it will be to get going again and to get back to where you were. With a new approach and some planning, this holiday season can mark the beginning of some new fitness traditions.

In addition to burning calories, physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve excess stress that is often associated with the holiday season. Exercise stimulates our body's natural happy pill, endorphins. Not only will you feel better for it, but you will have more energy for those long days of shopping and late nights of festivities.

If you have a difficult time staying true to your fitness programs over the holidays, do something different. We are creatures of habit, but take this time to think outside the box. First, be aware of what needs to be changed. Then, rather than doing what you have always done, make some adjustments this holiday season.

Plan Ahead

This may sound tedious, but planning ahead works. One of my university professors said, with all seriousness, that his daytimer saved his life! When he started his new career, he had a difficult time saying no to people and, as a result, found that he was unable to meet his own commitments. That's when the daytimer came in. When people approached him to do something, rather than dropping everything or making up an excuse, he would check his appointments and let them know if he could meet their needs. Instead of letting others down, he was able to make time for their demands while meeting the demands of his own work.

Why do I tell this story? Because during the holiday season we often fill our schedule with a lot of other demands and obligations, and often neglect the things that are a part of our normal routines, such as our fitness activities. If you want to stay true to your fitness program, then make it a priority and schedule it in.

This is not to suggest that you need to run out and purchase an appointment book, but I suggest you begin to plan your schedule and make room for your favourite activities. A helpful hint: you don't have to tell people that you cannot make an engagement because you're going to your favourite workout class. Just say you are already booked that night. Also, think about altering your routine a little. This may require that you do your daily walk or workout in the morning before work rather than in the evening. If you have plans for the evening, use your breaks at work to fit in your fitness routines. Whatever the case, design a schedule and do not neglect what is important to you.

Be Creative

One of the best things about the holiday season is that we get to spend quality time with our loved ones. So, why not include some form of physical activity while you're socializing? Rather than the usual indoor activities, try getting outdoors and moving. Maybe this means going for a walk through a specific neighbourhood to see its Christmas lights. How about getting a group together for some carolling--a great way to stay in the Christmas spirit while you get that heart rate going. How about winter sports such as cross-country skiing, snow shoeing or ice skating? These are all excellent forms of physical activity that can be enjoyed by all age groups. Start a new tradition with your friends and family that includes some physical movement.

If you are having company over for a big meal, or if you're going out to dinner, try to fit in some activity before you eat. This helps speed up your metabolism for that big meal, and you will be more relaxed for the evening. And don't forget to keep in mind your alcohol and food consumption. Alcohol consumption is a great deterrent to keeping you motivated, especially the next day, and alcohol is packed with calories. Remember also, eating too much often makes us feel sluggish and unmotivated. After a big turkey dinner, most of us can attest to those "sleepy" feelings from protein overload and the tryptophan (a calming amino acid present in turkey).

How many New Year's resolutions begin with "get in shape?" Why put it off until January? Just think how good you will feel when January comes around and your routine has not been altered too much. Think how good you will feel to not have to sweat it out with the rest of the masses in 2003. Have a fit Christmas and a healthy New Year.

Winter Workouts

In winter, Canadians spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, according to Health Canada. But once outside, you'll discover fresh snow and sunshine are a great combination for health and vitality.

  • More than 2.5 million Canadians cross-country ski each winter (Cross Country Canada, canada.x-c.com).

  • Downhill skiing attracted three per cent of Canadians aged 20-plus (Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute or CFLRI, cflri.ca). Check out skicanada.org and canadianskicouncil.org.

  • Five percent of Canadians aged 20 and over enjoy indoor and outdoor skating, according to CFLRI. Visit skatecanada.ca for more information.
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