Both a time to relax and recharge and, for many, an excuse to add a little extra cushioning in all the wrong places, the holiday period can severely impact our fitness gains while unraveling much of the training progress we have made over the previous year. As pleasure-seeking beings we will often take any opportunity to experience enjoyment (the eating of forbidden foods, partying, and relaxing) over more temporarily painful pursuits such as intensive training, strict eating and a disciplined, regimented existence. Indeed, we are biologically programmed to conserve valuable resources for times of famine. This includes that additional adipose hanging from our waist and hips. Simply put: we are not designed to be shredded and muscular all year round. So we must work extra hard to achieve, and maintain, such a look. Getting slightly out of shape is even encouraged by some fitness trainers who believe that to add extra muscle we must ‘bulk up’, and the holiday season is, for many, the perfect opportunity to do so. However, staying in shape over the holidays can be done and is to be encouraged. But the reality is many of us will have slipped in our training and nutritional focus over the holidays. So, as we ease back into a new year, we must re prioritize our fitness goals. By doing so we will so be maintaining what we have spent many years working to achieve while laying the foundation for future fitness success. Here are three tips to ensure your post holiday season fitness goals are well addressed.
One of the best methods for regaining a great shape post holiday season is to have a specific fitness goal and to be committed to its achievement every step of the way. For example, pick a bodybuilding contest, or schedule a photo shoot for early in the year. Such a financial, and personal, investment will keep you focused on staying in shape to a much greater degree than will arbitrarily committing to ‘staying on track.’
Let’s face it: staying super strict with our nutrition over the holidays is one of life’s most difficult tasks. With a seemingly endless succession of parties and functions, most of us are likely to indulge (some more than others!). While eating a little, rather than a lot, of the wrong stuff is one way to keep fat stores at bay, another strategy is to up the cardio and continue this focus through the post holiday period until you have achieved your fitness goals. By adding a barely noticeable 15 minutes to each of our cardio sessions we may burn 150 or more additional calories, which may add up to over 1000 calories per week. This allows us a little leniency in the diet department. We can have our cake and eat it, but we must do the cardio to burn it off.
After a hard year in the training trenches, the last thing many of us want to do is maintain such a rigorous schedule through the holidays. In fact, many of us become complacent in our training habits and our fitness goals go out the window. The occasional missed workout or meal, shortened cardio sessions, much sugary, fatty fare and a general lessening of training intensity are standard hallmarks of such complacency, usually brought about by a disruption to one’s regular schedule and an increasing array of distractions. We thus become sidetracked and lose focus. Because you are committed to the fitness lifestyle you already have the skills needed to plan for and manage your daily training and nutrition requirements. Simply maintain this momentum through the post holiday period. And remember, any training or nutritional transgression will set you back and make it harder for you to reestablish your commitment to excellence in the year ahead. So start this new year the right way: with a firm focus on your fitness goals.
The holidays are a time to renew our energy levels for another great year, a time for celebration and fun with family and friends. They are also an opportunity to overindulge with the wrong foods and relax our training focus. By setting goals, burning excess calories, and maintaining our fitness focus we can stay in shape well into the post holiday period, with no additional baggage to be dropped come 2016.
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