You usually don’t have to look too far during the holidays to find some healthy advice: “Don’t drink too much; don’t eat too much; get some exercise; don’t get too stressed out; don’t miss out on quality time with your family.” Don’t you wish it were that simple? Leading an active, healthy lifestyle is challenging at the best of times, and the holiday period brings even more challenges. Acknowledging these challenges can be a great first step to help you plan ahead and make the most of your holiday. Here are some common challenges to your regular physical activity routines with some suggestions for solving them:
Pure Pharmacy President and CEO, Bob Mehr, takes his turn in the HealthOut gym:
1. No Physical Activity Plan
a. Taking time to plan is often part of your normal work routine, but not your holiday routine. Most people look forward to their holiday time more than their work time, so why not tackle it with even more purpose and make your exercise plan in advance? Poor planning is probably the number one cause of poor lifestyle habits.
b. Suggestion – Take a break from your work over the holiday, but don’t take a break from your usual planning time. Use your calendar and block as much exercise detail as you like.
2. All or Nothing Thinking (and other mind knots)
a. I love getting a full 1 hour of exercise every day – I love it so much, that the thought of a 20 minute session leads me to think “it’s not worth it”. I find that this type of poor thinking (mind knot) is a very common driver of weight gain, and can often the starting point for days, months, or even years of prolonged activity. “I don’t have time” is another common mind knot that I would invite you to question.
b. Suggestion - Take time daily to be mindful of your thoughts and remember that even small amounts of physical activity can have big benefits.
3. The Great Outdoors are Sometimes Not Great
a. Slippery surfaces, snow, darkness, rain, cold, and being in unfamiliar areas are all examples of challenges for people who would normally get their activity by walking outdoors.
b. Suggestion – Plan ahead with adequate clothing, proper footwear, and time block your day so that you are active in the middle of the day when temperatures and visibility are best. Exercise indoors at a facility or even in your own home - this month’s video demonstrates some small things you can do in your home if the outdoors just isn’t possible. If you are traveling, choose hotels with pools, gyms or ask what it’s like to get outside and walk from the hotel where you are staying.
4. Being Assertive is Difficult
a. In order to take care of your health, sometimes you might have to go against the grain and do your own thing. For instance, stepping out for some exercise rather than spending time with family might seem selfish to some people and saying no to things that aren’t in line with your health goals can seem daunting at first.
b. Suggestion – Think through possible social scenarios in 2 ways:
i. Empathize with the people you need to exert your needs with – for example, show your family you care about your quality time with them, and you look forward to the rest of the day with them.
ii. Imagine scripts or words you will use to communicate your needs – remember, this is about your health and well being, and your friends want the best for you!
c. Suggestion – You could try to invite the rest of your friends and family to be active with you. Getting outside to snowshoe, playing sports, or simply taking a walk together can support physical health as well as improve everyone’s mood and reduce stress.
5. You Don’t Know what to Do
a. Without a gym or without guidance, being creative and thinking of what to do for physical activity can seem like a lot. You imagine yourself floundering around trying to remember some exercises you were once shown and the whole image turns you off exercise from the beginning.
i. You don’t have to have fitness equipment. Have someone show you a routine that requires no equipment before you leave.
ii. If you like to be lead, try an exercise app.
iii. Stick to exercises you know well so that you can do them quickly, vigorously and make the most of your time.
iv. The most important part of your fitness is your cardiorespiratory fitness – if you only have 10 minutes, make sure your heart rate gets up to what feels like about a 5-7/10 and stays there. Repetitive exercises that involve large muscles and several muscle groups at the same time are your best choices. Walking, swimming, running, biking, and full body strength training are examples of this.
v. Push ups, squats, step ups, lunges, pulling exercises with bands, bridging positions for your core, running on the spot, skipping, footwork drills, pull ups, dips, reaching with bands over the head – these are all some of my favourite travel and holiday exercises – if you know any of them, then just string some of them together and you have a HealthOut.
Hopefully you were able to identify with some of the above challenges and you are now feeling more prepared to take care of your physical health for the holiday period.
For the month of December, mention Pure Pharmacy at your HealthOut work out, and receive 40% off!
From both myself and the team at HealthOut, we wish you a health-filled December and a happy holiday.
Dr. Ryan Oughtred, ND