The good news: You aren't destined to fall off the fitness wagon just because life gets, well, busy during the holidays. With a little bit of planning and a whole lot of flexibility, you can maintain your workout program and feel your absolute best.
Figure out what derails your plans.1 of 15
Before we even get into the busy season, try to figure out what triggers cause you to skip a workout. Once you know these roadblocks, you can come up with a plan to avoid or at least minimize their impact. For example, if lack of sleep is a trigger, make a plan to shut down the electronics and go to bed 30 minutes earlier each night.
Make a plan.2 of 15
It's a good idea to have a solid plan in place even before the craziness of the holidays is in full swing. What are you doing now for exercise? Get it down on paper and make a schedule. When life gets hectic, you will have your fitness roadmap at your fingertips.
Stick to a routine the best you can.3 of 15
Now that you have a plan, set a reoccurring workout reminder on your phone or use an app or even post-it notes at work. Make sure you have all the parties, school events, work shindigs and shopping trips on your calendar first, and try to find some consistency for when and how long to exercise. This will help you stick with it.
Exercise in the morning.4 of 15
Yes, you read that right. If you're already a morning person, then sticking to your routine should be a piece of cake. For the rest of you, set the alarm 45 minutes earlier than normal and get out of bed. Even if you don't brave the cold for a full-fledged run, at least you can fit in a 20 to 30-minute workout at home. Download a fitness app that has workouts, stream an online video or practice a few downward dogs and triangle poses.
Track your steps.5 of 15
If the idea of getting to the gym or scheduling time to go for a run has you in a panic, then focus on getting more than 10,000 steps a day. Walk while talking on the phone, while waiting for an appointment or during a work break.
Prioritize sleep.6 of 15
Are you getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep? When sleep is scarce, your workout is one of the first things to go. One of the simplest and most important ways to stay fit this season starts with the time you spend in the bedroom (asleep, that is). Set a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Ditch the long workouts and go for HIIT and full-body blasts.7 of 15
Slow and steady sweat sessions are hard to fit in during this busy time. Instead, opt for high-intensity interval workouts two or three days a week. Carve out 20 to 30 minutes and alternate between cardio intervals and bodyweight exercises. Try this workout for a 20-minute calorie crusher.
Choose exercises that move as many body parts as possible.8 of 15
Ditch the single muscle group workouts and opt for compound movements that work more than one area of the body, such as lunges with a bicep curl, squats with an overhead press or a plank with leg raises.
Take advantage of seasonal activities9 of 15
Don't underestimate the calorie burn of holiday activities. Skating? Awesome workout. Sledding? Think about the hill sprints. Live near mountains or hiking paths? Hit the trails with your snowshoes. With the potential to burn 420 to 1000 calories per hour, snowshoeing is the best bang for your buck during the holiday season.
Find a workout buddy.10 of 15
If you have always been a solo exerciser, this might be a good time to hook up with a friend for accountability. Schedule a few days a week to meet at the gym or go for a run.
Get outside.11 of 15
Don't be a fair-weather fitness bunny. Some of the best workouts happen in colder weather. Just make sure you stay safe and dress appropriately. Hit the running trails for a cardio session (the changes in elevation will do wonders) or take to the snow-covered streets with a fat bike (you can rent one). Both are challenging and work your body in different ways than your usual gym routine.
Set a short-term goal.12 of 15
Don't wait for January to roll around to set a fitness goal. Pick one thing you want to work on for the month of December and make it happen. Train for a 5K, increase your weight on the squat, work out four days a week—you get the idea. Having a short-term goal on the horizon will help you stay committed and consistent.
Look into fitness accommodations for travel.13 of 15
If you are doing any traveling this holiday season, make sure to book a hotel that has a fitness center and/or pool so you can get a quick workout in before starting your day.
Keep a spare gym bag in the car.14 of 15
Keep an extra pair of workout clothes and shoes in the car for those days when you can squeeze in a sweat session between shopping trips or holiday parties. Just getting two or three extra workouts in can make a huge difference in how you feel for the month.