As I mentioned in my Blogiversary post last week, a theme of my blog this coming year will be problem solving. My plan is to choose a common problem related to weight loss/fitness/wellness that most of us can relate to and try to think outside the box to come up with ideas to solve that problem. This week's problem is one I'm sure we've all experienced, how to find time to workout during the busy holiday season.
Thanksgiving is just days away and the holiday season is upon us. Even my friends who do not celebrate Christmas agree that the holiday season involves a lot of stress and loads of social obligations. Who hasn't been invited to a holiday party that had strings attached-bring a $10 present for a gift exchange or bake 3 dozen cookies to swap? While some of these activities are a lot of fun, they steal what's left of the little free time we have. It can seem impossible to find time for a workout. Let's put our heads together and come up with some solutions, I'll start.
When Time is at a Premium, Work Out Smarter.
What does working out smarter entail? It can mean a few things. Let's say, for instance, that you only have 30 minutes 3 days a week to spare for your workouts. You will need to make the quality of those workouts the best that you have to offer. If your plan is to do a session of cardio, intensity is the key to optimizing your workout. If you aren't working out at your target heart rate, you aren't getting the maximum out of your workout. You can find a target heart rate calculator here. When you are exerting yourself to the extent that you are within your target heart rate, your fat burning potential is at its greatest and you'll burn off those Christmas cookies a lot speedier. Be prepared to sweat, working at your target heart rate is challenging, but worth the effort. If you are taking the time to workout, why wouldn't you want to give it your all?
When it comes to strength training, your best bet is to train multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Sometimes referred to as functional training, combining two muscle groups within one exercise cuts your workout time while providing a serious core workout. Devise your own routine, combining upper body moves with lower body moves.
Some examples of combining multiple muscle groups within a single exercise are a deadlift with an upright row, a squat with an shoulder press or performing a tricep kickback while standing on one leg. Excellent examples of exercises that involve multiple muscle groups can be found at sites such as Shape.com.
To get more bang for your buck, move from one combination to the next with little or no rest between moves, this turns your strength training workout into a cardio workout as well.
Evaluate How You Spend Your Free Time
While most of us are busier during the holiday season, we can usually find time for a few pleasurable activities like watching an episode of Modern Family or spending an hour here or there reading our favorite blogs. While these harmless activities might fit into the months that don't start with the letter "D", you may have to make a few accommodations to make time for workouts.
Are you willing to give up a couple of your favorite programs each week in exchange for time for a workout? If not, would you consider working out while watching your fav's? (Bonus: It's hard to snack while working out, it's really easy to consume lots of empty calories while watching tv.) If you spend 60 minutes a day reading your favorite blogs is it possible to cut back to 30 minutes a few days each week in exchange for workout time? Perhaps you could make a list of the blogs that never fail to inspire and stick with just a handful of those to visit during the holiday season.
Make Workouts More Fun
In the words of the illustrious Mary Poppins, "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." When you find the element of fun in an activity, the "chore" can take on a new meaning. Whether it's downloading some Christmas tunes on your i-pod to listen to during your workout or trading in your sneakers for ice skates, find something, anything, that takes the monotony out of working out.
We've all heard the statistic that the average person gains 5-7 lbs during the holiday season. With a little forethought, you won't be a statistic.
Let's help each other figure out how to solve the problem of gaining weight during the holiday season due to lack of movement. Leave a comment add your best solution to the problem of lack of time for workouts during the holidays. What has worked for you or what do you plan to do differently this year to get through the holiday season while maintaining your fitness?