Health & Fitness

Break tradition, Idahoans: Stay active and fit over the holidays

The upcoming holiday season is a tempting time to be lazy, but don’t fall into that trap. Get out and be active, even if the weather tries to stop you.
The upcoming holiday season is a tempting time to be lazy, but don’t fall into that trap. Get out and be active, even if the weather tries to stop you. Statesman file

Ugh. November.

Why is it that so many people simply shut it down till next year when it comes to fitness? I might be a little premature considering it’s early in the month, but I’ve witnessed this pattern all too many times in the last 20 years. And as the saying goes, history has a tendency to repeat itself.

Temptations lurk around every corner, the days continually get colder and shorter, and motivation gradually slips as we finish out another year.

Does this sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be that way.

We all have the ability to survive the holiday madness rather than succumb to it. It’s a pattern that needs to be disrupted and requires just a little effort.

If you need motivation, think of it this way: Taking 10-15 minutes to read this might save you from the average 5- to 10-pound weight gain experienced by the majority of Americans during the holiday season. Do I have your attention now? Good! Let’s begin.

Simply set the intention

Make the decision to be proactive rather than reactive during the holidays. The ball is still in your court regarding how the rest of the year goes, and you have the ability to make decisions that better serve you and your health. Having that mindset alone will create a positive shift in your favor going forward.

From there, decide how you want to approach your workouts. Are you simply looking to be on damage control the rest of the way? Perhaps you want to use fitness to manage holiday stress. Or if you’re like me, maybe you still have unfinished goals to work toward in the gym, and that will lay the foundation for next year. In short, have some agenda and build from there.

Develop an action plan

Decide what your ideal workout structure will consist of. For example, a training week might consist of two strength workouts, two cardio workouts and one yoga session.

But as we know, sometimes “ideal” doesn’t always happen. With that in mind, you’ll want to develop and follow a “minimum” exercise plan for weeks that are hectic, which brings us to our next point.

It doesn’t have to be all or none

Shorten your workouts if the holiday crunch is getting the best of you. If you don’t have time to work out for an hour, shorten your workout to 20 to 30 minutes. Doing circuit training with weights, doing intervals on the treadmill, or combining cardio and strength into one workout session are fast and effective ways to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

Remember that some is always better than none. As long as you’re getting at least 2-3 workouts a week during the hustle and bustle, you’re way ahead of the rest.

Take up a new winter activity

By no means do we have to confine ourselves to the gym. Trying new activities that are fun and physically challenging can be refreshing and will keep you on track through the holidays. Hit some cross-country skiing or snowshoeing once the snow hits, play indoor soccer, or try indoor rock climbing. These are just a few examples of great activities that come with a high-calorie punch.

Have someone keep you on track

Now, make it known. Post it on Facebook, tell your co-workers, find a reliable workout partner, get support from your friends, join a training group. Basically, find someone or something to hold you accountable to make sure you see it through. That way, if you start to feel the pull of the “dark side,” it’s comforting to know that someone has your back and is going to help you stay the course and pave the way to even more success the next year.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or