This post could also be titled A Runner's Guide to Surviving the Holidays & Vacation or a Fitness Freak's Fantastic Five Steps to Fighting Holiday Fears.
Once upon a time, holidays & vacation were a scary thing for me. Come on, what is not scary about braving 8 hours of traffic on the night before Thanksgiving or having to figure out whose family gets Thanksgiving and whose family gets...well...the day after.
Oh and then there is that whole aspect of being away from your comfort zone.
-Away from YOUR treadmill - you know your favorite one at the gym that goes the "right" speed as opposed to the one at your parents' home that says it is the same speed but you know it is absolutely not.
-Away from your favorite running path - the one that you will not get lost on and know is the correct distance for that day's training session
-Away from your refrigerator and cabinets stocked with your kinds of food
Mainly, away from all the comforts of your life that make you feel happy and safe into the:
UNKNOWN & UNCONTROLLABLE
Sometimes that kind of situation makes me want to go like this...
I love not being in control.... :(
Now, I love getting a break from it all just as much as the next person, but at one point in my life all of these unknown variables led to a high stress situation for me (can you tell I am a control freak) and sometimes, if I am being honest, they still do. But while in Vegas as well as over Thanksgiving I noticed something, I was no longer nervous, anxious, or scared about the holidays. Instead, I was just happy and excited. I had finally come to a place in my life where I was able to mindfully enjoy such reprieves without worrying about all that stuff that people get so upset about (e.g., "gaining weight," "not getting in a workout"). So how did I do it? It is definitely not as easy as this five easy step list I will present but these things are a good start.
Five Tips to Turning Holidays Fears into Holiday Happiness
5) Plan Ahead. Before going on vacation or going "home for the holidays." Plan ahead. This is a broad one because it could be many things. It may mean knowing what is going to be served at the holiday supper you are going to and that way you can plan to bring a more healthy option for everyone to share or plan to have a special treat at the party - thus getting the best of both worlds. Or it may mean Tweeting with some bloggers. Let them know you are in the area and want to meet up for a run, bloggers will always find a bike path or trail near their home that is just as good, if not better than yours.
Two Thumbs Up for Running with Bloggers!
4) Make Adjustments. The best laid plans of "runners and bloggers" often go awry. Ok so even if you plan, things are not always perfect. That's life. No use crying over spilled milk. There is always a second option. It may not be perfect but it is not forever. So if you can't get your run in it, don't scream crazily at your husband and complain that this is clearly all his fault. Realize that one or even two or three missed runs will not kill your marathon finishing time. Instead, take the much needed break that you probably need, you will be back at it in a few days and probably benefit from the break.
Wait what is this, this is not my Precor Elliptical in the Vegas Gym that had been there before?!?
3) Balance. The holidays & vacation are a time of eating out, big parties, potato latkes, Christmas cookies, and martinis. And how useful is it that the race calendar that was flooded with races in the fall now seems to have hit an all time low. It can be hard to balance the need to eat the "right" foods and get the "right" amount of exercise during this time. Realizing that there are no "good" and "bad" foods is a great way to start you off on the right foot. Also, remembering that there is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine and an extra cookie at a family get-together is important. I am not telling you to go crazy but I am saying that life is all about balance and balance means allowing yourself apples and cookies, orange juice and vodka (not necessarily at the same time, but not a bad idea).
So many options to balance with, where to start?
2) Getting Back in the Groove. I did not put this as number one even though in a logical sequence of events it is for after the holidays. Once vacation and the holidays are over, allow yourself to get back in the groove of things. This does mean that during vacation you went on this crazy landslide into nowheresville, whatever that means (although it is ok if you do). But rather allowing yourself to re-regulate. After vacation, my body was just craving some Go Lean Crunch Cereal, some yogurt, some fro-yo pops, some grapes...I loved all the yummy foods I had on vacation, but it was a lot. I could not wait to just cook at home again as opposed to going out every night. Listen to your body, it knows what it needs and wants...
Although I have to admit pizza every night is not a bad thing but
if you still need to re-regulate come to the Wellness Event and win some of this (shameless plug sorry!)
1) Be Gentle on Yourself. The holidays are hard. They are stressful. It is great seeing family and friends but ultimately you are also trying to fit a million things into a short amount of time. On top of that, you are likely traveling, spending more money, and out of your regular schedule. Things may not go perfectly - you may miss a day of training, eat the "forbidden foods" or just feel like your body is out of whack from all these holiday celebration. This is OK. Everyone takes days off, it is normal to overeat, and your body is just trying to adjust to the frenzy that is Holiday Season. Be Gentle with yourself. Try to relax, enjoy this time with friends & family and not stress about the other stuff that you are always "perfect" about the other 11 months of the year. You will be back to that soon enough, for now, enjoy yourself a bit.
Christmas is Great. Christmas in the City is better. Yes this tree is on a treadmill, have you gotten involved yet?! Wherever you are in the world you can help. Send me a message!
This may not be the list that many of you associate with for surviving the holidays or vacation, but it has really helped me and I am hoping it helps you all too!
Any additions to my holiday tips? What works for you?