Thursday, December 1, 2011

Breaking even during the Holidays

Chances are, this time of year, you do really bad with your diet and exercise.  After Thanksgiving, which was probably full of bad eating, you may do a little good here and there, but with parties looming around the corner and lots of food and beverage awaiting, you kind of just “check out” until January, and then start back with a vengeance. 
A key point to remember is that December is going to have its bad stuff, such as parties at work, sweets as gifts, parties on the weekends, Christmas meals, etc., and much of this is unavoidable.  The worst thing for your happiness would be to avoid these things.  After all, it’s Christmas, and we should enjoy this special time of year.  Another key point to remember is that December is usually a bad month for your health and fitness, so the goal is not to have a great month in that regard, but rather to have a good month, or a better month than your normal December.  You need to look at December as compared to other Decembers, not as compared to whether it is healthy or not.
So, we shift our goal to “breaking even” during December.  Not because breaking even is good, but because breaking even is better than our normal December, which is normally a negative month in terms of breaking even.  When we look at it like this, breaking even is a success. 
How do we break even?  If you usually don’t exercise at all and eat bad during December, then it is really easy, simply exercise regularly and eat good as much as you can and eat bad all of the times that you are presented with holiday splurges.  The key is to do better than you normally do during this month.  So, think about your normal December diet and exercise and try to do better than that.  Work extra hard at times, knowing that you are going to bad at times.  This takes the guilt and pressure away from the bad diet and exercise that are coming your way during the holiday season.  Plan out  your meals and exercise for the month, with the parties, cheat meals, holiday candy, non-exercise days, etc., all in mind, and with the good budgeted in where you can. 
Chances are, if you take these steps, you will have a better December than you normally do and you you will put enough good in the month to cancel out the bad, that is pretty much unavoidable (and rightfully so!), thus allowing you to break even for the month of December.  Remember to look at the month as a whole, and if you plan it out, your month will not be bad and all the bad will not ruin the entire month.  Too often, people think, “well, what’s the point? I am going to eat bad and not have as much time to exercise as normal, so I’ll just let December go and start back in January.”  Remember that the worse off you are when you start in January, the longer the journey back is, so work on breaking even in December and work on having a good month.  You can be healthy and still enjoy the holidays.  It’s all in how you approach it! 
Jason Cerniglia, CPT, CSN, CGCC, Owner, Hoover Fitness, Author of the book, Look Great. Feel Great. And Still Eat Pizza!, and creator of The 301 Workout smartphone app.

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