Dec 052010

I recently received a friend’s annual holiday letter, which had a synopsis of her family’s happenings for the year. One of her announcements was that her exercise and diet program had fallen by the wayside. Ouch, I thought. Why is it that the days get shorter, the holiday season approaches and the commitment to health and fitness goes down like a house of cards?

The reason is different for everyone. For some, colder weather and shorter days result in depression, which does a number on motivation. People grieving over lost loved ones also struggle with depression during the holidays. The juggling act of shopping, working, and social commitments makes fitting in time to exercise difficult. Whatever is threatening to railroad you from your commitment to yourself, below are some tips on how to stay on track.

1 – If depression is a struggle for you, make every effort to increase, rather than decrease exercise duration and aim to work out first thing in the morning. High intensity exercise works especially well. Exercise has been proven to reduce depression and if you start the day by releasing some upbeat chemicals in the brain, you will feel more optimistic and the rest of your day will go better.

2 – Exercise with a friend. People often feel lonely during the holidays, since there is so much rushing, that many people don’t get to relax and enjoy as much quality time with others. Call someone you enjoy talking with and schedule a walk, preferably outside, where you can get some fresh air, connect with someone, and get some exercise at the same time.

3 – Think of Food as Fuel. What you eat has a direct affect on mood and energy level. Try to avoid too much caffeine, alcohol, and sugar and make sure to include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. I’m not suggesting you never enjoy a drink or dessert, but don’t consume these at the expense of the fuel your body really needs.

4 – If time’s an issue, squeeze in short bouts of exercise. Run around the block first thing in the morning. Walk up and down the halls at lunch. Take the dog on a walk or make a few trips up and down the stairs in your house or apartment complex. Buy a step and step up and down from it while watching the news.

5 – Buy a gift for yourself that has to do with health and fitness. It could be a cute outfit to wear to Zumba class, some new iTunes music to listen to while running or a new pair of shoes. Get what will fire you up about staying in shape this holiday season.

Stay Healthy and Stay Safe and Have a Beautiful and Loving Holiday Season!

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