Thanksgiving has passed and the Holiday season is in full swing as businesses and homes light up with decorations, travel plans are being made with relatives, and malls get crowded with those shopping for whom they care about. It’s a season of joy that we all could use and likely have been looking forward to!
Then there is your training and nutrition program to consider. You may have been working on your physical health since the beginning of the new year. Or maybe you are a seasoned exercise junkie that loves the gym. Or you are someone who feels they were finally making some progress within the last few months. Regardless of where you are in your journey, holidays always seem to pack our schedules with travel, parties, spending more time with friends and loved ones. All of which is worth celebrating and enjoying. However, often our health and fitness programs will get put to the wayside, becoming a secondary pleasure or even seen as a chore. But this doesn’t have to be the case for you, it just depends upon your program approach.
Does Your Program Fit You?
When it comes to training and making progressive leaps with our health, it is often not achieved overnight, taking time to build upon habits, leading to consistency in a routine and eventually progress. The same can be said about performing exercises as you wouldn’t start out on a more advanced movement like a barbell squat if you can’t do a simple bodyweight squat properly first. Instead, you would progressively build up to performing more complex lifts once you have command over the basics.
The same is true for nutrition and habits. Hopefully, you wouldn’t expect yourself to stick to a full, drawn-out meal plan, detailing 5 separate meals throughout the day if you have been historically skipping breakfast for the past 5 years. Additionally, one simple habit that is often rather hard to achieve is staying hydrated and meeting your daily fluid needs. If you can’t do the simple things right, chances are you won’t be successful with something more demanding.
When it comes to fitness and nutrition programming, you should seek out professional help that customizes it to you. As any good program will work with your schedule, rather than you trying to accommodate yourself to the program. This is essential and becomes alarming apparent during the holiday rush and can dictate your success in executing the program.
So you need to ask yourself, “Can I continue with my current regiment throughout the holiday season and stay consistent?”
If you said yes, then you’re good to go. If you said no, then something needs to change within the program to accommodate your holiday season.
Holiday Program Mindset
To put plainly, we need to focus on maintenance.
Programs of maintenance and/or de-load periods should be calculated within any fitness program. As the body, especially the central nervous system, needs extra time to heal from now and again. Especially after repeated bouts of intense exercise or fatiguing strength workouts for an extended period of time. A big sign that this is needed within your training program, is being continually stuck and not making progress. Consider taking this time of the year and allow the body to heal, still working out but decreasing the intensity and workload.
As when it comes to the body, the amount of effort needed to build strength or muscle far outweighs the amount of effort needed to maintain. As mentioned previously, if time is a limiting factor, it’s probably best to take a step back. Also, by focusing on a period of maintenance, we are enabling ourselves to enjoy the holiday season, still putting in work, but just enough to not lose the progress we have worked so hard for as the New Year approaches.
This is the same approach I will be applying for myself and many of my clients, especially those with packed schedules, which makes it difficult to execute the needed effort to continually make progress. It’s also a good idea because when the New Year starts, we will be fresh and ready to continue on towards our goals.
Paxton Boyer, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-CPT