The question: I am worried about missing my workouts, especially on Christmas Eve through Boxing Day. I am on such a good track. I know those days will be jam-packed with holiday festivities. I don't want to slide backward. Any tips?
The answer: Both starting and maintaining an active lifestyle is hard. I totally understand your desire to stay on track over the holidays.
The problem is, part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle long-term is learning to be flexible and to see the big picture. What is important is your day-to-day health choices, not the ones you make on special occasions. Aiming for training perfection is just not a realistic goal. If you need to miss a training day, don't feel guilty. Remind yourself that recovery is important and allows the body and mind to recharge.
Enjoy your downtime, but at the same time, don't use the holidays as an excuse to do absolutely nothing. Christmas comes every year, so take the time to strategize how you can have a happy and healthy holiday season. If you can't make it to the gym, no problem. But do try to build activity into your daily life. Take the stairs, go for walks with your family or plan active family outings like skating or skiing.
Enjoy a few Christmas treats – just don't mindlessly indulge. Eat something because you love it, not just because it is there. As always, moderation and mindfulness are key. When you miss a training day or have a treat, don't let that one decision snowball into several unhealthy choices. You know the thought process I am talking about: "I had some cake so I might as well have three more pieces, my diet is ruined anyway."
Get back to your more structured routine as soon as your schedule permits. Legitimate excuses are one thing, but don't let yourself slide down the rabbit hole. Don't convince yourself that you need two weeks off if you don't!
Trainer's tip: Aim to "trend positive" this holiday season. Aim to be more health-conscious than you have been in the past. Every year from now on, aim to have more healthy habits than you did the previous one.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for over 10 years. Her website is kathleentrotter.com.