Post Holiday Do's & Don'ts

The common theme at our club right now is everyone feeling out of shape and expressing that they feel they gained weight over the holidays.  There is a lot more huffing and puffing in class then usual.  And people are feeling more tired and sore during and after their training sessions.  There is an overall sense of sluggishness and heaviness.


These feelings are nothing new for all of us.  This happens every year at this time.  We are out of our routines, eating differently and the weather can put a hault to our efforts to get to the gym.  We are all in the same boat, yet we fear that we are the only one feeling this way.  I hear numerous members beating themselves up for taking the time off from the gym during the holidays.  The levels of frustration and worry are high.


To add to all of this you can't escape being inundated with diet and weight loss ads.  Everywhere you turn you see messages about how to lose weight this year, the lastest diet craze and the magically workout plan.  The diet and fitness industry love this time of year! They can prey on your vulnerablities and insecurities about taking some time away from the the gym and your change in eating habits to make you buy whatever they are selling.  You will have moments where it feels nearly impossilbe to not fall victim to all of this.


The truth is everyone feels the way you do and it's normal! We all feel more sluggish, our workouts feel tougher, and our eating patterns are all out of whack.  It's okay! You didn't do anything wrong! There is nothing wrong with trading in your usual routine for hibernation and holiday celebration for a few weeks.  It's truly momentary.  You don't live or eat like that year 'round.  


I know it's tough, but refrain from reacting to your fears about gained weight and feeling out of shape.  Don't jump on the diet bandwagon and hastfully begin overexercising. It won't do you any good and just continues to feed into making you feel like a failure and that you aren't good enough. Punishing yourself through dieting, restricting calories and over training will not lead to you looking or feeling better.  


What to do instead:

1.  Ease back in.  You've taken some time away from the gym, or you've reduced your training frequency, instead of diving back in full force, I recommend easing yourself back in.  It's never advisable to go from 0 to 100.  Take the time to slowly get back to the frequency and intensity at which you were previously training. Your body will thank you for building back up verses going overboard!


2.  Don't diet. It is very tempting to start restricting calories/food after weeks of holiday eating.  You might feel more bloated and heavier after the temporary change in your eating patterns, but do everything in your power to not step on the diet bandwagon.  As the holidays move behind us you will get back to your normal eating patterns.  You will also begin to gravitate towards different foods, foods that maybe you lacked during the holidays.  I know it's hard to believe but your body knows what it needs, practice trusting it and listening to it.  


3.  Be patient and kind.  Stop beating yourself up right now! I mean it! STOP IT! Let me remind you were out of your routine for just a short time when you look at the bigger picture.  You will get back to your normal! Be patient with yourself! And be kind to yourself.  Beating yourself up doesn't motivate healthy behaviors, it creates a punishment cycle.  Treat yourself with respect and trust.


4.  Step away from the scale.  There is no purpose in weighing yourself ever.  The scale tells you nothing.  Look within and assess how you are feeling.  If you feel physically sluggish and your body feels heavier, it's okay.  Water retention, bloating and weight gain doesn't mean you are a bad person or did something wrong.  Don't get on the scale and use it as yet another tool in beating yourself up.  If you aren't feeling great, consider what makes you feel better mentally and phsycially and start adding those things back into your life.  I bet spending time with your family over the holidays and eating some holiday foods made you feel good and that's important, it's healhty, and now it's time to focus on other activiies, behaviors and foods that make you feel healthy and happy.  


5.  Focus on You! Don't worry about what everyone else is doing.  Don't follow the norm and start dieting.  Do what makes you feel good.  Find exercise that makes you feel healthy, strong, and reduces stress.  Foster eating habits that make your body feel good, you don't need to look outside of yourself to a diet...the answers are within.  What makes you feel full and energized might make someone else have stomach aches.  We are all different and focusing on yourself is the only way to lead a happy, healthy life.  


To sum it up:  It's okay and actually good to take a break from your routine once in a while.  It helps your body and mind recover.  It reignites the joy found in training and allows you the opportunity to appreciate your usual daily routine. You do not eat the way you did over the holidays year round.  You will get back to your routine, you will feel "in shape" sooner than you think and you will not get anywhere beating yourself up. Happy New Year!