Monday, December 5, 2011

Stop Blaming the Holidays

As the holiday season rolls around, we all start to think differently. The hustle and bustle of the season gets us going and can be very difficult to avoid stress. As the stress mounts, the challenges of the holidays really come out. We are tired, there is too much to do and there are too many places to go.

Going to the gym is the last thing on our minds. Actually, it's not. From my experience as a health coach, health and the things you need to do to be healthy are on our minds quite frequently. Even if the gym is a place you don't frequently go, it is a place that you frequently think about.

The holidays don't make it any easier, but they are not necessarily the culprit. Think about the rest of the year. I know it's difficult to do this during the holidays since things get so hectic, but it is important to be realistic. Think about your normal routine on a February day. Or think about it on an August day. Whatever part of the year you feel is the most typical, think about it.

Now that you have a new month pictured, think about what your routine looks like. If you are anything like my coaching participants (before and in the early stages of our work together!), than your routine actually looks pretty similar. I know there is more going on during the holidays, but how different does your exercise routine look? How different does your diet look?

Most people are thinking about working out. If nothing else, it is that something that you want to do or that you know you should be doing. Never the less, it is on your mind. No matter how much, or hour little you have doing on, your health enters your thoughts regularly. Whether or not you do something about it, is another story.

After all, the holidays present extra activities and extra food, but are they really that different from the rest of the year? You still manage to go to work, take your kids to activities, attend parties, prepare or purchase holiday treats, buy presents for loved ones and all of the other things that seem to fill our plates. And outside of a few meals, our plates are filled about the same as they are during any other time of the year.

In other words, we all manage to keep our routines going through the toughest most stressful time of the year. No matter what is thrown at us, we manage it. We take it on and make sure that it gets done. If you are on track with your health, you will include exercise and diet choices on your list of must-dos. You will include it in December just as you do in March. You will include it because it is part of your routine.

That is the challenge most people are running into around the holidays. It's not that there is so much going on that they don't have time to exercise. You have time to do what you make time to do. That is why people can make time for holiday parties. That is why people make time to complete everything else on the long list. The only difference between healthy and unhealthy is including it on your list.

No matter what the season throws at you, health can fit in. In fact, exercise helps manage stress. What better way to find relief in a busy time of year than setting aside time to exercise. Eating healthy not only helps your body function at higher level, but it keeps your immune system strong so you can fight off the bugs that go along with the fall and winter seasons. And here's a newsflash for you: If you are eating healthy before the holidays and you eat healthy after the holidays, the impact of a few meals will be minimal. The real problem is when every day is Thanksgiving.

Think about that as your move through the holiday season. Don't blame the season on your lack of exercise. Don't blame the season on your overeating. The season comes and goes. Your habits are here to stay. They are your habits until you change them. Rather than throwing your hands up and declaring the holidays as your worst enemy, sit down and think about it for a minutes.

If you have goals now, you can start to reach them. Maybe you can start slow by setting specific goals for the holiday season. Or maybe you can simply decide that what you want is what you will do. The problem that most people run into is the fact that what they want and what they are actually doing doesn't match.

People in healthy routines don't stop during the holidays. People with healthy routines don't have to stop during the holidays. I have yet to see a person gain 5 years worth of weight in a month. It doesn't work that way. Healthy people know that. That is why they plan their routines. They fit exercise in, just as people with unhealthy routines fit in everything else. The only difference between healthy and unhealthy during the holidays is making sure that healthy activities are on the list.

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