Sunday, November 20, 2011

Don't Put Off For Tomorrow: 5 Ways to Guarantee Exercise This Season

Self-care takes a back burner during the holiday season.  We know we should do it, yet there never seems to be enough time (or motivation) to actually do it. Then January rolls around and we are feeling guilty for "letting ourselves go", and try to get into some kind of self-imposed exercise regimen straight from an episode of "Biggest Loser" only to falter and fail after burning out a few short weeks (days?) later because we just don't have any energy left after a few months of treats and indulgences...

Sound familiar?  If you're like the gazillions of Americans who hit the fitness clubs in early January after a several months' long hiatus, it does.  Don't think it takes a "super hero" to stick to an exercise routine, it just takes someone who knows how to make a simple plan.

Our need for physical activity can't be turned on and off, as if flipping a switch, depending on how full our schedule is.  Our bodies don't understand the "I don't have enough time" excuse.  In fact, during times of heightened stress, our need for physical activity actually increases in direct relationship to the increase of the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, that are coursing through our bodies.  Those hormones are the "fight or flight" chemicals that allow us to fend off an attacker or run for our lives, yet our body produces them even during modern stressors like traffic-induced panics, hectic office-project deadlines, conversations with distracted partners and juggling over-scheduled frazzled kids.  Rarely, during any of these "modern" stress-encounters does one find themselves running for their lives or lifting a heavy object off of a buddy, however, it is through strenuous physical activity that our body is able to burn off, or neutralize, these stress-chemicals.  If not neutralized, these chemicals circulate throughout our bodies as toxins that can contribute to inflammation, compromised digestion, infertility, insomnia, a weakened immune system and a host of illnesses.  In fact, during the "fight or flight" times, your body is focused on the performance of the "important" functions like quick muscles, heightened eyesight and hearing, and keeping your mind focused on every detail that crosses your path (every feel especially "ADD" during times of stress?), while minimizing the performance of the "non-essentials" like reproduction, digestion and immunity.

By incorporating regular physical activity into your weekly routine, you are providing your body with a stress "outlet", tricking your body into thinking you actually are running for your life... and in a sense, you are!

5 Ways to Guarantee Exercise This Season:

  1. Prepay for some classes/sessions at your favorite gym.  If you pay in advance, you're less likely to skip, unless of course, you've got money to burn.
  2. Implement the "buddy system".  Ask a friend to help you stick to your plan by setting exercise "dates": a walk during lunch or before work, a few exercise classes each week, a weight-lifting/cardio outing in the evenings.  Consider initiating a girls' night with friends to hit the gym rather than the restaurants or bars.
  3. Schedule it on your calender.  By scheduling your exercise the same way you'd schedule an appointment with your doctor or dentist, you'll be much less likely to "over book" that time slot.
  4. Set reasonable goals.  Don't attempt to train for a marathon or lose 25 pounds during the months of November or December.  Setting unattainable goals during hectic times just makes it easier to throw in the towel when it gets too difficult to stick with your plan.  See if you can exercise an average of at least 30 minutes every other day during the holiday season.
  5. Have a reward at the finish line.  Promise yourself a fantastic non-food reward for keeping your exercise schedule throughout the holidays.  Great incentives might include a massage, a manicure or pedicure, a new yoga mat or running shoes, or possibly something more "experiential" like a cooking class.  Set the stakes high by prepaying, give the gift card to a trusted friend or spouse, and by early January, if you've kept your goal exercise schedule, reward yourself.  If not, forfeit it to someone else.

This information not intended to replace the medical advice of your physician, but to simply serve as suggestions for integrating exercise into your schedule.  If you'd like information on how Elemental Fit's holistic health coaching services can facilitate YOUR health and wellness goals, email me ( for information.  Now scheduling 3 or 6 month programs beginning in January 2012 for individuals, couples and families.  Space is limited.

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