We’ve all done it. Committed to a workout routine, started fresh on a Monday morning, and maybe even purchased new workout clothes and shoes. And we may stay committed for a week or two but then something happens to knock us off course. Other things in life take precedence — kids, career, you name it — and suddenly our commitment is out the window. So, how do we stay dedicated to our goals of working out, especially over the holidays, when stress levels rise and schedules are derailed?
How to stay dedicated to working out over the holidays
Find the reason why you want to achieve your goal
The first step in sticking to any commitment is to determine our “why.” Find the reason why you want to achieve your goal in the first place. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, weight loss, improve muscle tone, or general health improvement, we first need to understand why it is important to us. When the road to our goal becomes long and dreary, drawing on your “why” will keep you motivated.
Stick to doing something that you love
This isn’t groundbreaking news; we have heard it a thousand times. However, the reason we have heard it so often is that it is true! We cannot sustain something that we don’t enjoy. So, stick to doing something that you love! And here’s a little secret, even if you find yourself dreading the minutes until your workout is over, smile. I know it sounds crazy, but even when you feel like you want to quit, just smile. The physical act of smiling triggers your brain to release endorphins so that you will feel better. Start telling yourself that you love what you are doing, even when you don’t, and eventually you will start to believe it. It’s hard to be miserable when you are smiling.
Don’t rely on willpower
Willpower surges and subsides. Think of willpower like a roller coaster. Willpower will surge when you are riding down that first big hill, gaining momentum all the way. Eventually, however, the roller coaster must head uphill and that’s when willpower begins to subside. From that point forward, willpower will dip and rise for the rest of the ride. Therefore, willpower is not a sustainable force. Instead, rely on sustainable habits. Building good habits will get you through the times when willpower has dropped you like a hot potato. The key to forming good habits is simply repetition. Doing something over and over until it becomes part of your routine. Rely on a habit, and you will always meet your goals.
During the holidays, when tension can be at an all-time high, remember that exercise is also a stress-reliever. Check out these 9 Exercises for Stress Relief.
It’s easy to put off going to the gym, but sometimes just making it through the door is enough. Just telling yourself that you will show up and do something is better than doing nothing. Nine times out of ten you will end up doing more than you planned, and you will feel better by the time you leave, mentally and physically. If you live in our luxury Chicago apartments and need a mood booster, check out the views at the fitness center at AMLI 808.
Find a fitness buddy
Working out with a fitness buddy is more fun and keeps you accountable. You are far less likely to skip a workout if you have someone to go with. And why not incorporate a little workout into your holiday shopping? You can easily rack up 15,000 steps or more in just one afternoon! Remember to take the stairs and park furthest away from the shopping center to add even more steps.
Beware of the “what the hell” effect
Yep, it’s a real thing! Especially over the holidays when schedules change and temptation is high. The what the hell effect occurs when we think we have blown our diet or exercise routine so we give in to more temptation by saying, “What the hell, I’ve already blown it!” This can become a very slippery slope when we throw all caution to the wind. Remember that you do not need to turn a little mistake into a big mistake. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes and move on.
Don't allow the holidays to derail your fitness goals. Be realistic about your commitments and know that there will be bumps in the road. Show yourself a little self-compassion when things don't go as planned. There is no point in beating yourself up. Realize that what you have chosen to do is hard and that you will have ups and downs. The key to success is not striving for perfection, it is merely having more good days than bad. So, get up and dust the cookie crumbs off! Keep going! The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is the gift of self-love and compassion.