Im starting to really get in the Christmas spirit over here.  In fact my girlfriend and I were so excited to get our first tree together yesterday. We even got to cut it down ourselves. That felt really manly.  Too bad I didn’t wear any flannel so I could really look like a lumber jack with my awesome beard!

christmas-tree
O’Christmas Tree, O’Christmas Tree

When we got home we had a ton of fun decorating it with lights and ornaments and jamming out to our favorite Christmas tunes (mine is Holly Jolly Christmas in case you were wondering).  In the midst of all that fun it got me thinking about you.

I  got to thinking how last week we talked about why the Holiday Season is the perfect time to start getting fit (if you missed it you can read it here). I told you the what and why but I never told you the HOW.  I know it’s easy to talk the talk during this season, but now I am going to show you how to walk the walk.

Not much of what you have to do changes from the rest of the year.   It’s just with so many holidays and events occurring within 1 month that it can be easy to be thrown out of your rhythm.  Pretty much what we need to do is put some of our good habits into hyper-drive to stay fit this season.  So hang on to your elf ears because here we go!

Make Your List and Check it Twice

naughty.jpgI love food.  I love delicious food.  There is plenty of delicious food to be had during this season  Everything from Christmas cookies, to just ordering out because you are tired from cutting down Christmas trees will happen.

We can’t let our nutrition can get away from us.  Meeting friends for drinks, parties with finger foods, family gatherings can throw our nutrition plans off track and really pack on the pounds.  Logging your food with either pen and paper, chisel and stone or more humane ways like the My Fitness Pal app can help you track your nutrition.   Tracking is vital to see where you have been naughty and where you have been nice in sticking with your nutrition.   Logging let’s us see where we can have a little leeway and have fun, or where you have to tighten up and reel things back.   It may seem like a lot of work but it literally takes 1 minute a couple times a day.

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Flame

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The holidays are a double whammy for me.  I love to eat, There is no doubt that food plays a major part in celebrating the holidays.  You can limit the damage by finding healthier ways to make some of your favorite dishes.  You can find fun, healthy, and delicious holiday themed recipes here such as healthy eggnog and ginger crinkle cookies.  Remember healthy foods can be surprisingly delicious.

It’d be A Blue Christmas Without You

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We don’t need Santa to bring us a lot of toys to get fit.  I workout in my apartment and survive on a few resistance bands, kettle bells and my body weight.  We don’t need over-complicated workouts to get the job done.  Just as long as you focus on pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging, twisting and carrying things you are golden.

I love working out like this because I can get in great workouts without worrying if the gym is open due to weather or holidays, spend 2 hours doing my workout because I had to wait for equipment, or go out of my way to travel to the gym.  I love how taking a minimalist approach to training allows me to work around my busy work and school (and now holiday) schedule.  I can work out whenever, whether that be first thing in the morning (after coffee of course), sneaking it in between clients, or in the evening after work.  Here are a few ways that I  conveniently train.

  1. Bodyweight exercises-Don’t have heavy weights? That’s OK me neither.  You can still get strong and burn fat using your own body weight. Push ups, squats, lunges, rows, jumps and crawls are super effective exercises to help you reach your goals in any environment.  Here are 50 exercises to help you get started and add variety to your workouts.
  2. HIIT Training– When I am in a crunch I love to work High Intensity Interval Training.  In under 20 minutes I can get a full body strength workout that will also get me breathing heavy.  Another awesome feature of HIIT training is that is puts you in a fat burning state for hours after your workout.  Theoretically HIIT training can have you burn fat while you party.

Here is an example of a body weight Tabata workout. :20 work/:10 rest 8 rds of one exercise before moving on to the next.

Lunges

Push ups

Rows

Mountain climbers/bear crawls (2 steps forward/2 steps backwards if you’re in tight quarters)

Complexes– This is one of my favorite ways to train. You can use bodyweight, kettle bells, dumb bells or bar bells and get a full body workout in a relatively short amount of time.  When it comes to complexes you can either do it for either reps or see how many rounds you can complete in a given time.  The idea is you want to move your body/weight from the floor on up the body in a sequence that makes sense.

Here is an example of a simple kettle bell complex.  Notice how the order of the exercises make sense on getting it into positions for the next exercise.

  1. 5 2 handed kettle bell swings
  2. 5 2 handed kettle bell clean
  3. 5 2 handed kettle bell goblet squat
  4. 5 2 handed kettle bell presses

5 rounds

This is a great chance to get creative and just mess around.  If you are stuck in pinch and need some kettle bell complex ideas check out my man Pat Flynn.

On The First Day of…..

Usually I am against challenges.  I see them as gimmicky and because they leave you stranded at the north pole once you are done.

One thing I do like about challenges is that it gives you a clear goal and a set of guide lines to accomplish that goal.  That goal keeps you committed and accountable because no one likes that feeling of failure.

I did Dan John’s 10,000 swing challenge last year to keep me on track during the holidays.  The challenge lasts anywhere from 4-5 weeks depending how many days you decided to workout. I started this challenge 2 weeks before Christmas that way the momentum of training carried over and set the tone for the new year.  I also wanted to have that feeling of being successful and accomplishing something to start off the new year.

I am not saying you have to do Dan John’s challenge (although I’d recommend it, but prepare for mental and physical evil) but pick one that meets your goals/interests you and get to work!

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

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I like to schedule one cheat day a week.  Right now it’s on Sundays so I can enjoy (and I use that term loosely this season) watching my Eagles play with beer and wings.  Between parties and celebrating the holidays with family I will probably be a bit more flexible on when I take my cheat days that way I am not a wet blanket on those days.

Rock Around the Christmas Tree

We all hate the feeling of cheating.  After all cheaters never win right?  It sucks because even though we schedule that cheat day we still feel awful.  Whether it be the guilt or the food making us physically sick it never feels worth it.

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That is why I make it a point to workout on my cheat days.  It is a bit of damage control, but it also helps me mentally to feel less guilty because I know that I did something good and that the day wasn’t a complete disaster.  My cheat days are the days I make sure to do my HIIT training so I am in a fat burning state as I am being bad.  I know at my house we make it fun and play 5 million rounds of Just Dance on the Wii on Christmas.  It’s good for a few laughs (especially because I have 2 left feet) and a lot of sweat.

Follow these rules and you will survive the holidays and be ready for a healthy and happy New Year!

Let us know how you plan to stay fit this the holiday season.  Let us know in the comments below

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Steve is a NASM CPT and Crossfit Level 1 fitness coach who has a passion for building strength. He views strength building as the ultimate tool for weight loss, performance training, and rehab/prehab for injuries. Steve is currently studying to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. Steve provides in-home personal training as well as on-line coaching. You contact Steve at sjgsports@gmail.com with any questions or comments you might have.
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