I recently sent an email out to my business distro and I want to expand on it as it has led to even more interesting discussions.
A conversation that has come up easily a dozen times over the last few weeks as the holiday season is here in full force, is around whether it’s “good” or “bad” to not workout over the holidays.
I intentionally am using quotes for good and bad because those terms connote absolutes. And I am not always a fan of absolutes when it comes to fitness, particularly when it is putting a universal label on something that is quite individualized.
Yes, unquestionably, it can be perfectly ok to take a break from working out over the holidays. I even did over Thanksgiving week as I was visiting family. I only get to see them a few times a year and I wanted to enjoy every second of that, even if that meant I did not work out.
I was also extremely jetlagged the entire trip and so if I was not with my family, I was sleeping. That is what I needed more that week than exercise.
So, for me? A week off did my body good. It restored my muscles and tissue. I am typically very regimented when it comes to fitness which is not a complaint. I would not want it any other way. Having said that though, taking a week off and breaking from my routine, was good for me mentally too. It was nice to not have that pressure for a few days.
Anyways, when I did return to my regularly scheduled workouts the Monday after Thanksgiving, I felt I had more in me to give to my workouts, and I pushed myself a lot that week.
OF COURSE! If you are already an active person who works out regularly and consistently, YES! Take some time for yourself that does not involve fitness over the holidays, with a few caveats of course.
Please do not extend your time off more than 1 week. The longer we build a habit of “not” doing something, the more that becomes the new norm. And before we know it, it’s a month of not working out or longer.
One week off from working out is NOT going to reverse all your gains. One month though will definitely unravel much of what you worked so hard for all year round.
Also, if you are going to have limited (or none at all even) workouts for a week, balance that out with nutrition. I know the holidays mean the occasional cookie, extra cocktails, sweets, etc etc. Be responsible and indulge with some discretion. In other words, do not eat like an asshole and not workout AND expect to not gain a little extra fluff.
Which for the record, I am not a fan of the scale so it’s not about the pounds themselves. It is about the pressure we put on ourselves when we gain weight and how that can become an unhealthy mindset or obsession. That is not how you want to start out the New Year.
Which brings me to my next point.
For those who perhaps have not worked out in some time, this may resonate a bit more.
There’s a big acceptance of starting up workouts and nutrition in the New Year. January 1st is THE DAY to start.
It doesn’t have to be though. Every little thing you can do before January 1st will help you tremendously.
Our bodies are amazing and adapt to the stress we put them under when we work out. But it’s a progressive kind of process. We incrementally get stronger and we incrementally improve our cardio vascular output.
Everything we do, or do not do, that does not support being healthy is making it EXPONENTIALLY harder on ourselves.
Like, drinking 4 beers or glasses of wine every night over the holidays.
Or eating half a dozen cookies every day.
Or not using the holiday break to catch up on sleep.
Or spending a lot of time in cramped airplane seats or cars (and not stretching after).
Or not drinking enough water every day.
And so that’s why the whole start in the New Year thing isn’t a mantra I can get behind. We can indulge but we can also do it smartly. We can lay around in our pajamas for a few days but we can also manage to get some steps in to.
We can get a workout or two in anywhere really. Even if you have been inactive for some time, just do anything to move. Whether that’s a walk with your family or doing some crunches or jumping jacks.
Every little thing you do over the next few weeks is going to prime your body for more success in 2020.
I have been racking my brain for weeks (seriously) trying to find the perfect analogy for letting good habits go to shit over the holidays and THEN treating January 1st like some magical, mystical date that is going to course correct.
And this is the best one I can come up with so apologies in advance.
I look at fitness and being healthy like having a cavity. (Bear with me here).
Imagine going to the dentist for your semi-annual cleaning and your dentist tells you that you have a cavity. You could get it taken care of that day, but instead, you promise to call to schedule an appointment for it.
You of course don’t (because who likes drilling?).
You go back 6 months later for your next cleaning and your dentist tells you that the cavity now requires a root canal.
Well, you now have to schedule 3 sessions to have the root canal done from start to finish. You may even need to get a prescription filled for the infection it caused. You also now have to pay about $600 out of pocket for the whole thing.
You could have just gotten the cavity filled 6 months ago. It would have taken 30 minutes and cost about $50.
It’s like that with fitness and waiting till January 1st. We give ourselves this date as if that is the only day in the year we can have a fresh start. And we change absolutely nothing until January 1st.
At a minimum, we could ensure we are drinking enough water every day. We start limiting sugars so that we are not so lethargic. We go for a mile walk here and there to get our muscles activated again. We pull the foam roller out of the closet in the basement and actually spend a few minutes using it every day.
We can do things that make January 1st not such a defining day and also make it so that we mentally and physically feel even just incrementally more ready for it.
I am available this year for a consult to help you plan for the New Year and start doing some basic things this year.