Even trainers struggle with finding time to work out and motivation to resist holiday treats. Here, to help you navigate Holiday Season 2014, we're sharing new tips every day from leading personal trainers and coaches across the country. Read on for inspiration:
YogaWorks teacher, star of Element: Daily Yoga, Los Angeles
Holiday Challenge: My biggest obstacle over the holidays is overbooking myself. This can drain my energy and I feel less than shiny for all my festivities. I've found that it's important to set aside at least 30 minutes each day to center myself: A short yoga practice, walking my dogs, or turning up the music and dancing. This helps me tune into what feels good and I'll make healthier choices. I stay away from rules—that feels like a battle that is a no-win situation. I give myself permission to enjoy the holidays and allow some indulgence but balance it with my daily 30-minute check-in. That way I learn to listen to what I want and temper it with what I need.
How Do You Stay Healthy During the Holidays? Being fit means feeling good in my body. I do my yoga practice daily because it helps me check in with what feels out of alignment. There is no separation between my body, mind, emotion, and spirit. It keeps me strong and flexible in my body, but also I tune in to my inner strength and remain flexible in my mind. That way when I show up to all of my parties I can embrace the spirit of the season and have a blast because I'm all there.
Holiday Health Tip: The best tip I could share is when you feel the urge to skip your fitness routine, remember how good it feels to move your body. I know that when my energy is low and stagnant, it's easy to give in to being a couch potato. Do what inspires you to feels good. Give yourself the gift of movement to move out stale energy so you feel inspired to fully embrace the holidays.
Founder, Aion Fitness, master instructor for ACE, SPRI and Tabata Bootcamp, Washington, DC
Holiday Challenge: My personal biggest challenge during the holidays is centered around nutrition. It doesn't have to do with the obvious unhealthy choices, like sweets or alcohol. Rather, there may be some savory or simply rich, perhaps more indulgent, dishes that are not obvious choices on foods to be careful with. I’m thinking of warm dishes cooked in a cream-based sauce or other heavy sauces, for example, or perhaps something cooked with a lot of oil. One specific example for me is chicken schnitzel. I rarely have it and may have it during the holidays.
I am personally OK with moving a bit less. Most of my year is a busy frenzy of physical activity. The span of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is kind of a slower time in the fitness industry and while everyone else is feeling more scattered from the holiday, I embrace the slight slow-down and take the opportunity to enjoy some rare stillness! For fitness pros, we often use this time to rest a bit physically to prepare for the coming January mad rush of fitness.
How Do You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays? This can vary a bit based on what my own training objectives are at any given time, but in general, I’ve found that for me, when time is tight, I try to use exercises that focus on muscles “between the hips and the armpits” and I typically do them faster to add intensity. The faster speed also seems to provide more of a mental shift into the exercise activity and away from whatever was making my brain feel scattered and overwhelmed with to-do items. Some examples are jump squats (or at least fast squats), medicine ball slams, heavy rope slams, skipping front-to-back lunges. And when pressed for time, I typically perform short-duration, high-intensity sets (to keep the quality high) and minimize rest between.
Check out “7 Ways to Get Moving This Holiday Season” for more of Jonathan Ross’ holiday survival tips!
Dance consultant, star of Weight Watchers: 7-Day Tone & Burn, New York City
Holiday Challenge: I don’t really live by any rules so there aren’t any to break! I do my best to stay consistent with my nutrition and movement choices throughout the year but not obsess about it. The one thing that usually suffers during the holidays is sleep because in addition to my regular work and exercise schedule, I want to spend time with family and friends as much as possible. So I try to work in some quality naptime when I can.
How Do You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays? I try to treat the holidays like every other day and celebrate life rather than look at it as a month-long frat party or all-you-can-eat buffet. Focus on celebrating friends and family and you! When you shift the story to gratitude and abundance rather than the spectrum of deprivation and excess, you will find the holidays more enjoyable and you will come out on the other end truly joyful.
Holiday Health Tip: Be mindful. Make the time to maintain your regular healthy lifestyle but enjoy one or two treats for the season. Knowing that it might be a stressful time due to family obligations and office parties, build in some regeneration time including meditation, massage and ample sleep. If you plan ahead, you will be more successful and you will be happy and alert to enjoy your friends and family.
Founder, Captain Quinn’s Fitness Boot Camp, Brooklyn, NY
Holiday Challenge: December is my month to eat, drink and be merry to the fullest extent possible. I do almost the opposite of every piece of nutrition advice I give clients. I then ease back to normal in early January and get fully back to mostly healthy eating habits by February.
How Do You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays? I wouldn't say that I stay fit and healthy, but I do try to get in two to three workouts per week—even if they're only 15 to 20 minutes. I need those for my sanity. I'm a huge believer in full-body High-Intensity Interval Training sessions using body weight, free weights, and short bursts of cardio. They're the best option for getting all the benefits of exercise in the shortest time possible.
So a typical workout might be: 2 to 3 minutes of light jogging/jumping jacks to warm up, followed by 30 seconds of each of the following (below) with 15 seconds of rest in between each exercise and about a minute between rounds:
- Single-leg squats (right leg)
- Single-leg squats (left leg)
- Rows with TRX or dumbbells
- Burpees, sprints, or high-intensity cardio
- Overhead presses with dumbbells
- Deadlifts or single-leg hip raises
- Burpees or sprints
Break for a minute then repeat once or twice depending on how much time I have.
Holiday Health Tip: Get some sort of movement in each day. Nothing relieves stress better than exercise. You can do the above workout anywhere, anytime. Something is always better than nothing. Can't carve 15 to 20 minutes out of your day for the above? Take a long walk on your lunch break.
Co-Founder and Vice President, Sweat City Fitness, Culver City, CA
Holiday Challenge: My biggest weakness during the holiday season are the pies.
How Do You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays? Like most of us, I accept the fact that I am going to indulge a little more than usual, so I need to make sure there is some extra calorie-burning happening before and after the feasts. I try my best to make sure that I get in a good workout during the holidays. Playing some football for an hour or two with some friends is another great way to make some extra room for desserts.
Holiday Health Tip: Just because you decide to eat more than your normal amount doesn't mean you need to compound the problem and sit around all day. I definitely break some nutrition rules during the holidays, but try and counteract that with exercise.
Founder, barre3, Portland, OR
Holiday Challenge: During the holidays I tend to be out of my normal routine, which often leads to bending my rules a bit. For example, I tend to be a guest more for holiday dinners and celebrations where I am less in control of my options. I like being flexible in these situations. Even though I don't eat gluten and refined sugar on a regular basis, I am not going to turn down my mother-in-law’s homemade cookies! It is all about balance. I am also on a plane more, which can interrupt my regular studio practice.
How Do You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays? I adopt this mantra: Sit less, move more. Even though I am away from my studio more during the holidays and have a harder time squeezing in longer workouts, I simply focus on moving all day long. I love getting up and doing mini barre3 workouts. My own barre3 app saves me during the holidays. I am traveling to New York City this weekend for an early Christmas with my in-laws and you can bet I will be busting out short workouts in my hotel room!
Holiday Health Tip: The last thing you need is more stress. I encourage everyone to let go of a rigid and time-consuming system around exercise and nutrition and instead find joy and ease in both. Find amazing healthy and satisfying seasonal recipes you can celebrate with friends. Find the ease and fun in your workouts even if that means a quick run around the block with your dog or kids in tow. Remember that healthy also means being happy.
Founder, Bandana Training, CSCS, CSN, New York City
Holiday Challenge: Grandma Sulaver makes some mean Christmas tree frosted sugar cookies. Great balls of holly—my mouth has never tasted anything more delightful. It’s OK though because calories don’t count at Grandma’s house.
How Do You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays? You haven’t lived unless you’ve gone for a run on Christmas Day. You feel like you have your entire city to yourself. Plus, if you’re really lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Old Saint Nick scampering off a rooftop. Eyes peeled.
Holiday Health Tip: Make it a family affair. You might be shocked at how much Mom can bench, bro. And the best part—your abs will be sore from giggling so much.
Owner, Fitness Fusion of the Hudson Valley; creator of teamfitmom.com, Red Hook, NY
Holiday Challenge: As a gym owner and trainer that lives the healthy lifestyle day in and day out, leads from the front 99 percent of the time, the holidays are a time to enjoy life and splurge a bit. I remind myself this time of year that it’s OK to live on the edge, perhaps eat an extra slice of apple pie or drink some eggnog. It’s a temporary moment of indulgence and it’s OK. Our bodies won’t gain 20 pounds from a few not-so-clean meals and at the end of the day, we’re all human and love treats. I work hard all year on my fitness goals, to enjoy the holidays. In the same breath, my body serves as a constant reminder of why I choose a healthy lifestyle. When I eat clean, I simply feel better. Too much overindulgence of sugar and carbohydrates can leave us feeling tired, lethargic and bloated…something no one likes to feel on a regular basis. If you make health and fitness a normal part of your life 80 percent of the time, the holidays don’t need to be a time to freak out, it can actually be a time you reward yourself with a few things you may not be enticed by during the year.
How Do You Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays? Living in New York, some of my favorite ways to stay energized, fit and healthy during the holidays is to get out and play with the kids. We just had a blast of snow on Thanksgiving, which led to snow races, sled pulls and snowball fights. Making fitness a family affair keeps it fun!
Don’t have kids or snow? Don’t fret. Focus on small things like drinking extra water, enlisting a friend for a workout to keep you accountable, being mindful of liquid calories, keeping a food journal or logging meals and activity with a fitness app or device. Solutions that work great for me as a busy "mompreneur" during the holidays are home workout DVDs and meal replacement shakes. I throw the DVD in, and it takes me 24 minutes to get a total body workout. Meal replacement shakes help me stay on track when I’m on the go. Missing meals is not an option for me. I try to get in five small meals a day to keep my metabolic rate up and prevent myself from grabbing junk. When I’m on the go, and don’t have access to quality food, the meal replacement shakes provide me with a quick, healthy solution chock full of vitamins, minerals, protein and carbs… and they taste like a treat!
Holiday Health Tip: Don’t stress! The holidays are meant to enjoy, although all too often the holidays feel like the most stressful time of year. If you’re mindful of your health and wellness goals and plan your strategy ahead of time, you can ward of holiday weight gain. You may have heard that stress is a major contributor to the formation of belly fat, thanks to a little chemical called cortisol. Even if your eating habits are on point throughout the holiday season, letting stress get to you may still cause you to gain a few pounds. Avoiding stress-related weight gain is simple if you follow these few steps. Make time for yourself. Take some yoga classes, get a good workout in, meditate, curl up near the fireplace with a good book, simply find your “happy place” and make time for it.
Photos courtesy of Mia Togo; Jonathan Ross; Jon Quinn; Zac Pruitt; Sadie Lincoln; Rob Sulaver; Liz Cort
Lisa Wheeler photo credit: Adam Brown