Thank you for your enthusiastic participation in the Maintain Don’t Gain Challenge. Congratulations to all of you for making healthy choices part of your holiday celebration. Throughout the challenge I sent tips for encouragement and motivation. Here is a recap of the tips:
Commit to your exercise program – It’s easy to postpone our exercise sessions when schedules get hectic. However, exercise provides valuable benefits, such as stress reduction, and improved mental outlook. This year, remember to treat your exercise session as an important appointment on your schedule, even if you need to make adjustments to exercise routine to accommodate holiday festivities (or other events). For example:

  • Keep the intensity and frequency of your regular workout the same and shorten the duration.
  • Increase the intensity of your regular workout, keep the frequency the same, and shorten the duration.
  • Increase the intensity, keep the same duration, and adjust the frequency.

Plan – formulate a plan for maintaining physical activity and employing smart eating strategies when things get hectic and/or during tempting situations.

  1. The first step to developing an Action Plan is to identify the behavioral goal and the obstacle.  For example, “I make smart eating choices at home, however when I am at a social event I tend to gravitate to the dessert table and camp for the evening.” The goal is to maintain smart eating at social events and the obstacle is the dessert table.
  2. The second step is to develop a strategy for dealing with the dessert table.  A possible solution may be to allow yourself one of your favorite sweet treats and then engage in activities that keep you away from the dessert table for the rest of the evening.  For example socializing in another room, or initiating a game.

Finding a strategy that works best for you may take some brainstorming as well as trial and error.  If the strategy doesn’t work, take time to examine where the weak link is and re-work it.
Make activity part of the celebration.

  • Plan before and after meal walks.
  • Add activity to the next party, for example a treasure hunt, or Ice-skating.
  • Plan to participate in local outdoor events, such as turkey trots and cycling groups.
  • Make a new holiday tradition of playing a ball game, hiking, or a family bike ride.
  • Post Thanksgiving shopping, make a day of it and walk all over San Francisco.

Challenges – sometimes a little friendly competition can stimulate motivation. Set some activity challenges for yourself or with a friend. For example, complete a series of scheduled fitness classes, planned workouts, or physical activity events within a specific time period.
Here is a challenge to get you started: in addition to your regular workout routine, find one additional opportunity to be physically active this week.
Don’t give into the all-or-nothing attitude – Attitude is a powerful tool. The all-or-nothing attitude demands perfection and focuses on what is not being done rather than what has been done. This can result in feelings of disappointment, failure and frustration. Habits are difficult to change and slips ups will happen. When smart eating and exercise habits have declined during the holidays, there are three steps to getting back on track: 1) Identify triggers that lead to the slip, 2) recognize barriers to success and take steps to overcome these obstacles, and 3) reaffirm goals and commitment to change.
Although these tips are geared toward the holidays, the basic ideas can be applied to your year round efforts. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year.