Challenge Yourself and Stay Motivated this Winter and Holiday Season!

 

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Winter is coming, we all know it. The days are getting shorter, and colder. It is during this time of the year that I find motivation to do any sort of physical activity other than Christmas shopping or baking, to be at an all time low. I used to work at an all women’s gym, and during this time of year it was basically a ghost town. Especially after work! This was because the majority of the clientele were moms, and moms have the special task of making Christmas happen for their families. I’m the biggest fan of Christmas! However, I do know that it can be a very stressful time of year. This is why keeping up with your exercise during this time of year is so important, and I’m here to give you some ideas on how to do just that!

I do understand that it’s cold outside, there’s less light, and this can all have an affect on your energy levels. However, there is nothing better than exercise to help with your stress, fatigue, and overall mood. Here is an idea on how to keep yourself active during this time of year:

Sign up for, or create your own fitness challenge! 

I have personally signed up for a fitness challenge this Christmas Holiday with two of my good friends from university. I have my own personal fitness goals that are forever changing to help me grow as a person, and as a fitness professional. I also think it’s important to try new things, and to meet new people. Plus, signing up for a fitness challenge with friends holds you more accountable to your goals, and to the challenge itself! If you’re wondering what challenge I signed up for? It’s the BOND X RIDE CHALLENGE. It’s a  5 week challenge that started on December 1st. Basically, you have to complete one 5K run, and one cycle class a week for 5 weeks. Now, this may seem really easy to some of you, and you’re right. It’s not a super hard challenge to complete. However, I personally hate running, and I’ve never done it in the winter. To me, that is a challenge! In addition, I picked this challenge because it’s fun! And because it’s totally possible to complete it during the holidays! There’s no reason why I can’t fit one class  and one run outside with BOND running a week.

So, my advice to you is sign up for a challenge this winter! A lot of gyms and studios run challenges during this time of year to help keep members motivated and engaged. If you’re not a member of the studio or gym, sometimes they have discounts to join the challenge, or other incentives. If there isn’t a challenge available to you at your local gym or studio etc, then create your own! Challenge yourself to attend at least two fitness classes a week for the next 5 weeks, or to go for two runs/walks outside. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, just pick an activity that you enjoy doing, one that gets you moving, and make sure that you are making it a priority to complete the tasks you have set out for yourself every week. Also, it is much more fun to conquer any challenge with a friend, but if you can’t find someone to commit? Then commit to yourself! Make this a Christmas gift to you! Because you deserve to make yourself a priority!

I’m sure we have all at least thought about our bodies recently, and the effect the holiday season has on it. Or maybe we have fitness goals of our own, and we’re afraid of getting derailed? At the very least, I know that many of us have weight loss goals for the New Year, but why wait until then? Start working on your goals now! If you can commit yourself to your goals now by creating or joining a fitness challenge for yourself, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve those New Years Resolutions! Especially if you complete the challenge! Now, don’t expect miracles for yourself this holiday season. Pick or create a challenge that is “challenging” for you, that is totally possible to complete, and that it is something that you enjoy doing! You will not make time for your challenge if it doesn’t meet these requirements! Also, if you are creating your own challenge? Have a reward for yourself at the end! If you worked hard, and met all the requirements of the challenge, then you deserve to celebrate!

To recap, these are the things you need to motivate yourself to stay active this holiday season:

  1. You need a goal, or a “why.” You need a reason why doing this challenge is important to you. Maybe you have an overarching goal, like to loose 10 lbs and completing this challenge will bring you one step closer to that goal. Or maybe the goal is to keep your sanity this holiday season? Whatever the goal it needs to mean a lot to you.
  2. Pick an activity that you ENJOY! It can be anything! But you have to like it enough to want to do it more than once a week. If you don’t love the activity, you may find things that you like about it. For example, you may like the music the instructor plays, the instructor themselves, or the people who attend the class. Either way, there has to be something that motivates you to do it in the first place.
  3. The frequency and time frame for your challenge needs to be realistic for your current lifestyle. If you haven’t set foot in the gym in months, then don’t think a 30 day challenge where you have to go everyday is going to help. Choose a frequency that is challenging for you, but that you are capable of adopting into your current fitness regiment or overall schedule. I would say you should be doing this activity at the very least, twice a week for about 4-6 weeks. That will give you enough time to maybe see a difference in your fitness or to find yourself a new hobby. The idea is to continue being active once the challenge is over…
  4. Schedule out your activity into your everyday life. You need to make it a priority by adopting it into your current schedule and holding yourself accountable to that appointment. You are far more likely to be successful if you make the time for your physical fitness. Plus the entire holiday season will seem a lot less overwhelming if you set a schedule for yourself, or at least daily tasks to complete.

For those of you who are leaning more towards hibernation this winter season, I strongly urge you to resist! You will most likely regret it. Just because winter invites you to hide behind a frumpy sweater, doesn’t mean you should! Exercise shouldn’t just happen during the months when people are more likely going to see your body in public. Yes it’s cold outside, there’s less light during the day, and this can all affect your energy levels and your mood. But exercise is the best method to combat these issues! Exercise boosts your mood, your energy levels, you will sleep better, and you will perform better during the day. If you’re already stressing out about all the obligations you have this holiday season? Then you need to make self-care a priority, and I am looking at all of those moms out there! Trust me, you will be better able to take care of everyone else once you have taken care of yourself first! But enough ranting, some form of physical activity everyday is important for maintaining or improving your overall well being. Get moving this winter, I promise you won’t regret it!

 

 


Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitmas: Five Cost Free Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

The winter solstice is coming up next Wednesday December 21st, 2016, this means it will be the shortest day of sunlight for the entire year, also making it the darkest day of the year. It comes as no surprise to me, that we celebrate Christmas, and other Holidays during this time of year, as an attempt to bring some light, and happiness to one another on these cold and dark winter days. However, despite the celebrations, the lack of sunlight can have a dramatic effect on your energy levels and mood. Below is a list of 5 ways to lift your spirits this winter that won’t put a strain on your pocket-book! Because I’m sure the holiday season is costing you a pretty penny already 😉

  1. Brighten up your environment. Open up your shades during the day, and let as much natural light into your space as possible. If your desk at work does not get any direct sunlight, or if you don’t have access to a window, then on your lunch break sit by the window, or find ways to get to window through out your day. For example, on your way to the bathroom, or to a meeting, take a route that passes by areas that are well-lit with natural light. OR if all else fails, leave the office for lunch, go out for coffee, and get outside! Even though it may be cold and a little uninviting, you will feel so much better after getting a brief amount of fresh air and sunlight, trust me!
  2. Watch your diet. During this time of year, and well, winter in general, we tend to gravitate towards “comfort foods.” These types of foods are high in fat, and high in sugar. The reason why these foods are considered “comfort foods” is because not only do they taste awesome, the high amounts of carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, and the high fat content gives you a sense of satiety or a satisfying feeling of fullness. Or, if you’ve had too much, you may feel a little sick or “stuffed.” I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have some holiday food here and there, but do not go overboard! It is so hard to keep yourself from overeating at this time of year! And sure, these comfort foods taste great, and feel great going down, that feeling is only temporary! If you want to feel great for a longer period of time, feed your body with nutrient dense foods! Sure, pie tastes great, but it doesn’t look great, and it doesn’t feel great if you’ve had too much. Also, if you overeat these comfort foods, you basically put yourself in a food coma, which makes it very difficult for you to be motivated to do anything else but lie on the couch. Not only will you feel “fat,” and “gross,” you will lower your energy levels, and lower your overall mood. So, my advice is to eat as healthy as possible, and keep the Christmas treats to a minimum!
  3. Exercise! I’ve written an article in the past about the effects of exercise on your mental health called How Fitness Continues to be a Beacon of Hope for Me . It talks about how fitness has helped me overcome times when I’ve felt very unhappy with how my life was going, and it can most definitely help you! Exercise, especially doing cardiovascular exercises can help you naturally create “happy chemicals” in your brain called endorphins. Actually exercise can be as powerful as taking an anti-depressant! Also, doing interval style training can help alleviate stress and anxiety. So, if this time of year has you feeling really stressed out and anxious? Then take a spin class, or do some interval training on some of the cardio equipment in the gym. Either way, you should get your body moving this time of year, especially when all you want to do is hibernate. Hibernating, and hiding from the world will only isolate you more, and have you feeling the blues even more so.
  4. Turn up the volume of your favorite music! Ever notice how Christmas music is always happy, hopeful, and cheerful? I don’t know about you, but I love to play Christmas music at this time of year. Not only does it get me into the Christmas spirit, it really does lift my mood. I just can’t help but feel happy when I listen to it. Especially when I’m doing Christmas things, like baking, or decorating the tree. However. I know that many people find Christmas music to be a little annoying, especially because it literally plays in every store, and almost every coffee shop that you walk into. So, if Christmas music doesn’t make you happy, play the type of music that does. Music has a tremendous ability to really affect people in a positive way!
  5. Volunteer, and help others! There is no better time, then the holiday season to give back to your community! Volunteering your time and helping out others really does feel good, and it can help you get a sense of purpose. When things seem so dark and lonely, it’s a good idea to reach out and give a helping hand. It may help you to realize you are not alone, things are not as dark as they seem, and you can really make a difference in someone’s life. It is so positive to be able to give back in some way to your community. Not only is it positive for the people who directly benefit from the work you’ve done, but for you as well. Everyone wants to feel like their lives mean something, and that they are needed in some way.

These are all my suggestions for helping you overcome those winter blues. Heck! You can apply all of these things to your life in general, and I can guarantee a higher quality of life! Go outside, get some more sunlight in your life! Eat well, and exercise! This will help you feel better both mentally and physically. You will have more energy throughout the day, and you will be a better version of yourself to conquer whatever life throws at you! Listen to music (that’s if you enjoy music) and dance, sing, do whatever makes you happy! I literally dance everyday and some point, music makes me so happy 🙂 And last but not least, give back! I know we all live busy lives, but it really does make you feel good from the inside out to be able to do something genuinely nice for someone for no reason other than it was a good thing to do. Merry Christmas guys! Don’t let the winter darkness get you down!

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Glade doesn’t necessarily make me feel joy but spending time with the people I love the most does ❤ Me and my bestie at the Toronto Christmas Market November 27th, 2016 


Merry Fitmas! Day 2:Holiday Eating

Merry Fitmas Everyone! So today I’m addressing the question of what do I do during the holidays? How do I keep myself from completely derailing from my goals? Well, here are some of my tips for staying on track with your diet and goals during the holidays, but before I start, I am completely aware that dieting at all during this time of year is extremely difficult, and I know that the majority of people will not be able to avoid all the Christmas fare for the entire month of December. So, that being said, these tips are tips on how to keep the damage as low as possible. It is not IMPOSSIBLE to diet during Christmas but for most people it’s close enough LOL

Tip Number 1: YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT EVERYTHING!!!

Just because there are 50 dessert options doesn’t mean you need to try every single one! Same with appetizers!! If you know there’s going to be a large meal, then skip the apps, and just eat the main course. Choose your battles guys! You don’t need to eat, anything, and everything that is available at any of your Christmas functions. Pick your favorites, enjoy them, and that’s it. Pick one dessert, if you’re having apps, don’t go nuts! It’s so easy to get carried away with the appetizers, that by the time the meal happens, you’re full. Avoid the cheese platter, or any cheese apps. Why? Cheese is high in fat, and therefore, high in calories. You can rack up your calories pretty high with the cheese platter alone before you even start with Christmas dinner! So again, one dessert, be modest with the apps, and for dinner? Have the protein, have the veggies, and be careful with the starchy carbs and the gravy! Starchy carbs will put you to bed, and the gravy is high in fat, and high in calories!

Tip Number 2: PLAN AHEAD AND USE MY FITNESS PAL!

Most people have very strong traditions that they keep during the Christmas holidays, and because of this, most people know generally what they’re eating and when. If this is the case, and you know what Christmas parties, dinners, and other social gatherings that you have planned, then you can plan your meals around them. Just because it’s the holiday season, does not mean that everything goes out the window, and you lose complete track of how much you’re eating. If you know you’re going to a party, or a Christmas dinner, and you want to enjoy some alcohol, or have dessert, then save calories for it. Plan your whole day of meals around this function so that you can enjoy yourself, with less worry about how the pie you want to eat will make you fat! The Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, yes, 100%! But if you want to stay on track with your goals, you need to plan ahead to be successful. MyFitnessPal is a great tool! Use it! Record all your meals in it including your holiday dinners, keep track of your macro-nutrients. This will help you stay on track with your goals, and it will help you plan your meals ahead of time so that you can fit your Christmas meal into your diet, or at the very least it will hold you accountable. It should keep you from veering too far off track.

Tip Number 3: WORKOUT!!!!

Most of us have some extra free time during the holidays. We take some time off, shorter hours at the office, whatever. Yes, take some time to relax and unwind, but there is no better stress relief, energy booster, calorie burner, mood booster… I can go on LOL than EXERCISE!!! So do it! Take advantage of the time you have and workout! I always plan my workouts around major holiday meals haha. I’m so used to getting up early, that, this past Thanksgiving holiday I did fasted cardio while everyone was asleep, and when I came home I enjoyed the traditional family breakfast. I mean, what else was I going to do? Wait for everyone to get up so I could eat? Then, once the turkey for Thanksgiving was in the oven, I went and did my back workout. By the time I got home, dinner was ready, and Thanksgiving dinner turned into post-workout gains! Everybody wins! The holidays can be a great opportunity for off-season muscle growth if done properly…What I mean is, don’t think that because you want to grow, it’s an excuse to eat everything in site LOL Plan your workouts around your holiday meals, so that the meals you do eat, feed your depleted muscles, which will help them repair, and grow. Also, if you’re worried about your waistline growing this holiday season, then keep up your workouts!! It will lower the possible collateral damage so to speak!

And that’s it folks! These are my top 3 tips for Holiday eating: don’r eat everything you see, plan your meals ahead or time, and save calories for big parties and dinners, and workout! This will help keep you from completely falling off course . Merry Fitmas guys! And stay tuned for more posts!!

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Me, my sister Maryanne and all our Giunta cousins that came to Sabrina’s Confirmation Brunch this past Sunday December 6th 2015