It is a popular myth that during the holiday season the average person will gain 5-10 pounds and while the scale may actually reflect this, it may not be true weight gain. Typically most people will only gain 2-3 actual pounds during the holidays and the rest is water weight or “bloating” from the sugary and salty foods and alcohol. The biggest problem with the holidays, while not the actual weight gain, is that many people tend to fall out of their routine. Trips to the gym are replaced with trips to the mall for shopping and that also tends to lead to eating out more and most restaurants add lots of salt to their food which can add bloat the body and make us feel lethargic. We are busy baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping presents and enjoying all of the other joys of the season so we just “don’t have time to work out” or make this a priority.
In an effort to stay active during this time of year, I have taken on a few “challenges” that will keep working out a priority during this season. My first challenge happened about 5 weeks ago where at the gym I work at, CKO Franklin, we put together a 6 week challenge for members and the instructors have our own little friendly competition going. This challenge is on a point system and unlike the members, we are not awarded any extra points but rather our improvements in weight loss, body fat, and 4 exercises (pull ups, pushups, jump rope, and sit ups) are the only way to win. The other twist is our challenge isn’t over until after Thanksgiving, so we have to be extra careful not to stuff ourselves like turkeys! While I have not had much more time to train like I wanted to because of my busy schedule, it totally helped keep me focused on keeping my strength and endurance up and eating clean all of the time and avoiding junk food, like all of that Halloween candy!
The next challenge I took on for the month of November was I pledged to run a total of 50 miles from the 1st of the month through the 30th through the US Road Running Get Out and Run program. This is a virtual running program in which you set a goal and then log your progress at the end. There are several virtual runs that you can do also. For example, for the past few years I have hosted Thanksgiving and my husband works this holiday every year so I have to consider both cooking for a crowd and someone to take care of my 3 small children. This means I seldom get an opportunity to work out on Thanksgiving morning like I used to. This year I am trying to coordinate a “Turkey Trot” with my family so that I can incorporate my kids and family to join in, whether they walk run or just cheer us on and I am utilizing this site to purchase us medals and make it more of a real event. I have even plotted out the distance to make sure it is at least a 5K!
Another challenge I have taken on is the 30 burpees for 30 days challenge hosted by Spartan Racing. The goal is to perform 30 burpess each day, but they can be either broken up in smaller increments or 30 at a time. Miss a day? Then you better do 60 the next day! The burpee is one of the most dynamic exercises out there and they are hard to perform just for that reason. Burpess are basically a squat thrust with a push up added and a hop up off the floor after completion. These take a great deal of energy to perform, can be done with no equipment, you don’t need a large space to do them, and they will leave you out of breath within seconds. When you do any Spartan races, if you chose to skip or fail an obstacle, you are penalized with having to do 30 burpees each time. The way I look at this challenge, is knocking out 30 a day is just like failing an obstacle, for me it is typically the spear throw! This challenge runs from November 18 through December 18.
If those challenges were not enough, I also pledged to do the Dirt In Your Skirt Holiday Hundred. This is a challenge in which you commit to getting active for 100 miles. These miles can be done by walking, running, or hiking. During this challenge you log your weekly miles on their site and when you reach 100, you are sent a wooden medallion rewarding you for you accomplishment. This challenge runs from November 25 through December 31st.
I encourage each of you to set a goal this holiday season, whether you want to try one of these challenges or just set up one of your own, but keep moving! Choose what you want to do, come up with a timeframe to accomplish it and put it on your calendar just like you would any other appointment. Not sure you have time to do this? Keep in mind that it is so much harder to get back into a routine once you fall out of it and your body will love you for taking care of it!
Wishing you a healthy and active holiday season!