Nov 12 2015

How to Enjoy the Holiday Season Fit & Healthy

The holiday season is often the busiest time of year for many Vail Valley locals.  It is also a time of financial importance for our community and local businesses.  Busy schedules, work stress and shorter days combine to have people feeling less healthy than our active community desires.

This observation coincides with studies done on most Americans, who typically gain more weight from Thanksgiving though the end of the year than the other ten and a half months combined.  Studies also indicate that Americans consider the holiday season as the most stressful time of year.  

Here are some helpful tips to enjoy the holidays and to keep, or even improve upon, your health and well being.  Staying fit and healthy will allow you to enjoy the gatherings, be more efficient at work, and to be in a better place for yourself and other important people in your life.

Take a different perspective -  Most polled Americans state they “just want to make it through the holidays.”  Once people resign themselves to this attitude, they have put themselves in a place where they feel less empowered and more susceptible to being reactive to other people or circumstances.  Practice positivity and set short-term goals for yourself during this season.  These can be attainable personal or work related goals.  But create targets that are important to you and keep them at the forefront of your mind.  Then pursue actions that lead you towards your targets.  Be receptive to challenges that arise during this time and try to think of them as opportunities that will create growth both mentally and emotionally.

Create structure – As things get busier, most people do well with structure.  Make appointments for yourself.  These can be appointments for a workout, a healthy activity with a friend, a fitness class or a personal training session.  Even if it is an independent workout, mark it on your calendar just like it’s a business meeting.  Be specific on what time you are going to exercise and what you are going to do.  If you use the “I will try to fit something in” approach this time of year, the probability of exercise drops significantly.

Even short amounts of time help – Often people feel that if they don’t have an hour or more it’s not worth it so they skip exercise altogether.  Small chunks of time can be very effective.  Even if you only have 15 minutes to move around. Try these tips for squeezing in exercise on busy days.  

    ~First thing in the morning- Wake up and go for a short but brisk 10-15 minute walk first thing in the morning before breakfast. On the walk, set positive intentions for the day. This gets your metabolism up and creates a platform for being less susceptible to pitfalls throughout the day.

    ~When you get stressed, take five minutes- Often when something creates stress we turn to food or choose to be reactive.  If you are feeling stressed, move around for five minutes or do five minutes of meditative breathing.  This quickly switches responses in the brain to prevent emotional eating or reactive behavior that derails you from achieving your goals.

    ~Try a little intensity- Increasing intensity during short workouts is very effective for leaning out and eliminating stress. Outside or on a treadmill do a five minute warm up then go as hard as you can safely go for 1 minute followed by 1 minute of easy recovery.  Cycle through this five times then cool down for 3 minutes.  In 18 minutes total you have significantly increased your metabolism and created a sensation in the brain that reduces emotional stress and promotes positive thought.

Plan ahead with snacks – Don’t allow yourself to go long periods of time without a healthy snack, and definitely don’t go to social gatherings or parties on an empty stomach.  The human body keeps its metabolism revved up so its less likely to store body fat if we take in small amounts of healthy food every 3 to 3.5 hours.  A perfect snack is a green apple, a small handful of almonds and a big glass of water.  The combination of the pectin fiber in the apple, the protein and healthy fats in the almonds, and the water creates a high level of satiety that keeps most people full.  This snack can significantly help you avoid the trap of unhealthy trigger foods and overeating at meals and gatherings.

This year, Dogma Athletica is offering a program called “35 Days of Presence.” It will run for five weeks, starting Wednesday, Nov. 25, and ending Thursday, Dec. 31.  This program is open to only 20 participants.  The program includes: a 5-week membership to Dogma Athletica, daily inspirational emails to keep you on-track this holiday season, daily workout recommendations designed to help you de-stress and lean out, an array of weekly recipes to help you create delicious and healthful creations for your family and friends, and a beginning and ending body composition test to chart your progress. 

Prior participants lost significant amounts of body fat and felt more balanced during this busy season.  The entire program including a full 5-week membership to Dogma Athletica is priced at only $250.  Call Dogma at (970) 688-4433 to reserve a space or for more information.

Rod Connolly is owner of Dogma Athletica and an exercise physiologist.  For questions on health, fitness or nutrition email Rod at