For some reason, people assume that November and December are the times of year that we should just give up on our fitness. Summer is gone, and sleeves and pant legs are covering up the results of our sweat and tears in the gym. After all, we can worry about getting back in shape in January, when we make those New Years Resolutions that we won’t actually follow through with.
I’m going to go through why this is such a bad idea, not just because of the cost this attitude puts on your body, but also why it’s easier than ever to continue working out in November and December, and why excuses that were once valid are no longer a reasonable explanation to abandoning your fitness goals for the Holidays.
Let’s get started. (Watch the vlog below. To read about it instead, scroll down just past the video for the abridged version.)
Excuse #1: You’re going to eat unhealthy foods, so you should just avoid working out altogether.
Many people (fitness professionals included) seem to measure fitness on a calories in, calories out model. The goal of fitness, by this logic, is to make sure that you exercise enough to offset the calories that you eat during the day. You minimize poor food choices so that you don’t have to do extra cardio in order to make up for it.
Unfortunately (or, maybe, fortunately…) measuring your fitness by a calories in, calories out model just doesn’t make sense. Your body is much more complex than a bank account (money in, money out), and there are so many other things to consider. The amount of calories you eat does not dictate the progress you’ve made in terms of your athletic performance. The amount of calories you eat has nothing to do with your overall strength, athletic skill, or mobility. Eating those extra calories might even give you more energy, although it’s not a method you should utilize on a regular basis. Certainly, exercise is harder when you eat poorly, especially if it makes you feel more lethargic or negatively impacts your sleep, but this is just one aspect of your overall health.
Bottom line here is that even though you may be eating more calories than your body is used to, that doesn’t mean your fitness is doomed. Sure, you may gain a little bit of weight, but that nominal weight won’t significantly affect your strength, endurance, mobility, athletic performance, or any other factor that goes into your overall fitness.
Excuse #2: You don’t have time to work out.
Shopping, hanging out with family, traveling, and work parties. Some people think that because of all these things they just won’t have the time to work out like they’re used to. It’s true, that you might not have as much time, but to say that the Holidays completely wipes out your time for exercise is a little extreme, in my opinion.
It is 2016, and there are MANY innovations that have come about in order to help you save time, including, but not limited to, the following:
ONLINE SHOPPING – No waiting in line, no driving in traffic, no trying on clothes. Just click and ship. You can even have it wrapped for you. Amazon is a lifesaver. I use Amazon Mobile just as much as I use Facebook, and it saves me a ton of time – not to mention a lot of money!
Home workout options – Stream a workout online, download a fitness app (many are free), go on to YouTube, subscribe to the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area – there are so many ways to do a workout without leaving your house. Not to mention that if you’re using a great program, you can complete a workout in the same time it takes you to get to and from the gym. Here are some ideas for you:
- Follow along to a video workout.
- Use that bodyweight circuit you saw somebody share on Facebook.
- Put a pull-up bar on your door frame.
- Let your dog off the leash and do some yoga while he or she chases squirrels.
- Take a 7-Day Trial to the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area, and choose a 15-minute workout.
- Get Guyoga: Beginner’s Yoga for Men*, and learn yoga taught in a way that makes sense to people who don’t normally do yoga.
*I just released Guyoga: Beginner’s Yoga for Men on the Man Flow Yoga website, and this is the ultimate yoga workout series for people that don’t normally do yoga. It comes with four 25-minute workouts, a bonus 30-minute Yoga Start workout, a 10-minute power yoga abs workout, and The Guyoga Road Map, a comprehensive guide to Guyoga, featuring workout plans, the best times for each workout, and more. Click here to learn more about Guyoga! (Save 15% through the month of November in honor of Men’s Health Awareness Month using the code “Movember15”.)
Healthy Ready-to-Eat Meal Services – eating “fast food” used to mean eating unhealthily, but thanks to the growth of internet shopping and the growth of a more health-conscious population, there are now TONS of options that make eating healthy a snap – even if you don’t have time to cook it yourself. Look up paleo-friendly food delivery services in your area, or find a meal-prep service. You can order meals in bulk and have anywhere from 5 – 25 meals shipped to you on a weekly basis, so that when you want to eat healthy but don’t have time to cook, it’s easy! Not to mention saves you a ton of time…
Excuse #3: You have to do family things, and this means that you won’t be active.
Isn’t it strange that almost all family activities are unhealthy? Watching movies, eating sumptuous meals, going out to nightclubs and bars (that might only be my family), sitting around and doing nothing…
Next time you find yourself in these situations, take some initiative. Suggest going on a walk. Ask someone if they’d like to join you for a workout. Start playing an online workout video and see what happens. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn into a habit that you can your family members can connect on?
Excuse #4: By taking the month off, I can just start up where I left off, and I’ll only be one month behind.
It’s true that your body needs time to recover. The best athletes try to take 1 week off every 8 or 12 week cycle in order to give their bodies time to heal. But they only take 7 days off – not a whole month and a half.
When you decide to take off for a month, you aren’t going to be able to just pick up where you left off – you may actually end up setting yourself back 2 or even 3 months. Here’s what that looks like:
- Take off December, lose progress of October, November, AND progress of December.
- Spend January and February making up for the 1 or 2 months of progress you lost by taking the month off.
- Spend March doing what you should have been doing in December.
Well, shit. It’s now the beginning of April, and you’re about 3 months behind where you could have been if you had kept working out in December.
Excuse #5: I’m going to be traveling, and I can’t workout while I travel.
That’s true, you’re going to be traveling. Long layovers at the airport, made worse by unexpected blizzards, tight flight schedules, and a surge in fliers. You also might be driving for many hours, which is never good for your posture. But…
What are you doing during those layovers? Are you able to get up and stretch while you are in the air? (Hint: The answer is yes.) Do you have the opportunity to pull over to a rest stop and do some quick stretches every hour or so while driving? (Hint: If you’re making a 4-hour trip, stopping once every hour for 5-10 minutes adds a mere 30 minutes to your travel, which you can blame on construction and holiday traffic anyways.)
My point here is that just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. You don’t have to have a solid hour or even 30 minutes to do some good for your body. Here are some ideas:
- Spend 3-5 minutes just doing squats.
- Spend 3-5 minutes just doing lunges.
- Spend a couple of minutes just doing shoulder stretches.
- Hold a plank for as long as you can.
- Do 5 sets of push-ups in 5 minutes or less.
- Do 3 balancing yoga postures for 30 seconds on each side.
All of these mini-routines are surprisingly effective, even though you aren’t spending much time on them. Do about 5 of them spread out through the day, and you’ve put in 30 minutes of exercise – which is what the American Heart Association recommends! (30 minutes of moderate activity, 5 days per week).
The bottom line – don’t let the Holidays ruin your fitness routine. You’ve been working on yourself too hard to give up for a month and set yourself back. You deserve better than that! More than that, if you can demonstrate your persistence and your drive to be healthy while you are around your family, this could encourage them to be more active as well. That means that you and the people you love can share a common bond in your dedication to health, and you’ll all be able to live longer, happier lives, with fewer trips to the doctor and the saving of a few thousands dollars (or tens of thousands of dollars) on medical expenses through your lifetime.
Be well! Happy Holidays.