It’s that time of year again where it seems like everything except holiday-related obligations fall to the wayside. Stress levels go up, holiday parties filled with unhealthy food and drinks are abundant, and, depending on where you live, the weather may be a Grinch keeping you from your usual outdoor activities. However, there is no excuse for doing nothing and letting yourself fall prey to unhealthy habits. There are always modifications and alternatives to any schedule, all it takes is a little more planning and preparing ahead of time. Check out the following recommendations to keep the holidays feeling more like It’s a Wonderful Life than The Nightmare Before Christmas:
Make a schedule, but be flexible
It’s very easy to let your usual routine be taken over by holiday events, travel, etc., but sticking to a schedule with built-in wiggle room goes a long way to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Make a schedule each week of your obligations, but have Plan B ready to go if your co-worker forgot to tell you about the company party happening that night and you’re supposed to be the game host. But you were supposed to do your tempo run that night!?! Don’t panic, it just so happens the next day is low key and you can get your run in then. So go ahead, be Bob Barker one night and Mo Farah the next.
Prioritize your “extra” obligations
It’s almost guaranteed that most of us will have a more packed schedule than usual during the holidays. However, prioritizing which “extra” obligations are the most crucial to attend to and knowing which ones require less of your energy can keep you from falling off the health wagon. Your daughter’s concert is Tuesday night when you were supposed to do a track workout? No problem because you put the concert as a high priority, so of course you will go to it. Instead fit in a short easy run on Tuesday before the concert and move your track workout to Wednesday because you planned ahead.
Something is ALWAYS better than nothing
Seriously. Something ALWAYS trumps nothing. So instead of looking at your day and saying you don’t have time for the 30 minute run you had planned, go out for a 10-minute walk at lunch and do a 20-minute strength training circuit at home after work. You’ll still get the 30 minutes of total volume in, but just in a slightly different way. And let’s face it, most runners don’t do enough strength training, so it’s a win-win.
Enjoy yourself, but within reason
I know some of you don’t believe me, but I’m going to say it anyway. MODERATION is key. You don’t have to refuse every holiday treat or festive beverage, but you also don’t need to accept every offer either. If you want to indulge, then make sure the rest of your day is worthy of being an example in a nutrition seminar. Drink water throughout the day and then yes, feel free to have an adult eggnog at the neighborhood party. Remember, Santa is watching, so make sure the one eggnog doesn’t turn into five.
Remember the true meaning of the holidays
This time of year is supposed to be fun, a time to be with family and friends enjoying the blessings we have in our lives. It’s not supposed to induce stress, anxiety, guilt, or any other negative feelings. If it does, you may want to check that priority list twice to find out who’s being naughty or nice. Then put that list away because it’s time to go for a run!
Happy running to all and to all a PR!
Dr. Ivy L. Jordan, PT, DPT, CSCS
Performance Physical Therapist / Running Performance Specialist
Dr. Jordan received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and her Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. She competed for four years in cross-country and track and field while attending UMary with areas of specialty in the 1500/1600m, 3000m, 5000m and 3000m steeplechase. She continues to be an avid runner who has a strong interest in working with the running population, whether it’s achieving a personal record or taking the first step towards joining the running community. Dr. Jordan is also a high school cross-country and track and field coach specializing in distance events.