Staying Active During the Holiday Season

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It’s Easier Than It Seems

Somewhere in my house, my scale is shoved in a box, hidden away from the rest of the world. And as the holiday season looms closer and closer, it’s not coming back any time soon.

If you’re like me, then COVID-19 has not been great for your fitness routine. At the beginning of 2020, I found myself in the gym at least three times a week, hammering out long workouts. Now the only thing I use my workout clothes for is napping.

It hasn’t made me too confident heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas. If I’m struggling to be active now, then how will I ever stay active during the busiest time of year? Especially when I know my jeans are looking pretty tight (and not in a good way).

But according to Lauren Morris, owner and personal trainer at New London Athletics, even the smallest of habits can help jump start a return to the fitness world.

“Exercise looks different for everyone,” Morris said. “But being active even 10 to 15 minutes a day can make a difference. Sometimes, that looks like taking the dog for a walk or parking further away from the entrance of the store. Getting 10,000 steps in a day is a good place to begin.”

High-tech accessories like an Apple Watch or a FitBit can encourage getting those extra steps in and are a great way to keep track of your movement. According to Morris, the true key is being more active more days than none. “[The pandemic] easily changed things for a lot of us, so you’re not alone,” she said. “You can start slow and ease your way back into being active.”

Thanks to my Apple Watch, implementing small habits during the week has been helpful. I added the step counter to my phone to make sure I’m hitting those 10,000 steps each day, even when I don’t close my activity rings.

But what about my ultimate weakness? Holiday sweets. Usually during Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can find cookies and pies stuffed into our fridge.

Morris said good nutrition is all about balance, especially when it comes to food-centered events during the holidays.

“Everything in moderation,” Morris said. “The average person can gain five to seven pounds during the holiday season. But you still want to be able to enjoy yourself and you should. It doesn’t mean that you need to avoid foods you love.”

Switching out a mixed drink or a soda for a sparkling water can be a great way to save calories for the things that matter, Morris said. You can also avoid the extra calories by swapping some ingredients for healthier alternatives, such as apple sauce as a butter substitute, coconut milk instead of heavy cream, or wheat flour versus white flour.

“And don’t keep those extra treats on the counter,” she adds. “Throw them away after a few days or send them home with someone if you need to.”

For those who do want to get back into working out before New Year’s Resolutions hit but are nervous to go back into a gym mid-pandemic (like me), Morris said there are plenty of resources out there.

“Start by looking at beginner workouts on Pinterest or look into virtual classes or training at a boutique gym in town,” she said. “For a smaller gym like ours, our clients have plenty of space to work out, but we’ve also been holding outdoor classes or meeting with clients online.”

Also, Morris says remember to build in some rest time between workout days.

“Your body needs time recover and to rebuild,” she said. And though social media can be a great place to find workouts or follow fitness influencers, remember that everything isn’t always what it seems.

“Trainers have busy lives too,” she said. “I love working out, but I don’t have time to always work out four or five times a week. Sometimes, I record my workouts all on the weekend and switch out outfits. Don’t be discouraged by what you see.” That’s always the kicker, but after talking with Morris, the holiday season in a COVID-19 world doesn’t seem too overwhelming.

(Just as long as I can get a sugar cookie or two in there.)

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