The holiday season is often the busiest time of year for many Vail Valley locals. It is also a time of financial importance to our community and local businesses. The combination of busy schedules, work stress and shorter days can have many people feeling less healthy than our active community desires.
This snapshot of our community coincides with studies done on most Americans. Americans typically gain more weight from Thanksgiving though the end of the year than the other ten and a half months combined. Studies also show that Americans consider the holiday season the most stressful time of the year.
Here are some helpful tips to enjoy the holidays, and even improve upon your health and well-being. Staying fit and healthy will allow you to enjoy holiday gatherings, be more productive at work, and be your best self for all the important people in your life.
Take a different perspective - Most Americans polled state they “just want to make it through the holidays.” Once people resign themselves to this attitude they feel less empowered and more susceptible to being reactive to other people or circumstances. As an alternative, practice positivity and set short-term goals for yourself during this season. The goals can be personal or work-related, but make them attainable. Create targets that are important to you then keep them at the forefront of your mind. Seek out actions that will lead you toward 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 more structure. Make appointments for yourself. These can be appointments for a healthy activity with a friend, a fitness class or a workout with a trainer. Even if it is a workout on your own, mark it on your calendar just like it is a business meeting. Be specific on the time frame you are going to exercise and what activity you are going to do. If you think, “Oh, I will try to fit something in” versus scheduling time accordingly, the probability of exercise drops significantly during this time of year.
Even short amounts of time can 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, however - even if you only have time for 15-minute blocks of activity. Try these tips to keep you moving on busy days.
First thing in the morning. Rise and shine for a short, brisk 10-15 minute walk first thing in the morning before breakfast. Setting positive intentions for the day helps get your metabolism up and creates a platform for being less susceptible to pitfalls that can occur during the day.
When you get stressed, take five minutes. Often when something creates stress we turn to food or take a reactive measure. If you are feeling stressed out move around for five minutes or do five minutes of meditative breathing. Choosing activity or breath work will quickly switch responses in the brain from emotional eating patterns or reactive behavior to something positive that keeps you on track to hit your goals. Breathing exercises can be very simple to perform. A basic exercise goes like this: Breathe in slowly for a count of six. Hold for four to six seconds at the top of your breath then slowly exhale for a count of six. Hold for four to six seconds with all the air flushed out of your lungs before inhaling again. Continue breathing in this manner for about 5 minutes. You can perform this breathing anywhere – at the office, in the car or at home before bed.
Incorporate intensity. You don’t need to have a huge chunk of time, but incorporating intensity into short workouts is very effective for leaning out and decreasing stress. Outside or on a treadmill do a five-minute warm up then go as hard as you can safely go for one minute followed by one-minute of easy recovery. Cycle through this five times then cool down for three minutes. In just 18 minutes, you will have significantly increased your metabolism and created a sensation in the brain that will reduce emotional stress and promote 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 will keep its metabolism revved up and 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 glass of water. The combination of the pectin fiber in the apple, and the protein and healthy fats in the almonds creates a high level of satiety that will keep you feeling full. Enjoying snacks like this will help you avoid falling into the trap of unhealthy trigger foods and overeating at meals and gatherings.
Dogma Athletica is once again offering their “30 Days of Presence Program.” The program begins on December 1 (the Monday after Thanksgiving), and runs through December 31st. This program is open to 20 participants. The program includes supportive meetings from Dogma’s expert trainers and staff, daily structured workouts designed to de-stress and lean out, a helpful nutrition component featuring healthy versions of holiday favorites, daily intentions and inspiring quotes to help keep you centered and present, and a beginning and ending body composition test.
Prior participants lost significant amounts of body fat, felt better and more balanced during this busy season. The program includes a five-week membership to Dogma Athletica and is priced at only $250. Call Dogma at 688-4433 to reserve a space or to obtain more information.
Rod Connolly is owner of Dogma Athletica and an exercise physiologist. For questions on health, fitness or nutrition email Rod at firstname.lastname@example.org