No-excuse strategies to keeping fit during the holidays

Five tips to help you stay motivated and exercise


During the eat, drink and be merry season, there are a million excuses to not exercise. But with the temptations of eggnog, shortbread and latkes everywhere, it is more important than ever to keep active. Here are five simple ways to excuse-proof the season:

1. Turn parties into outdoor events

Instead of focusing all of your socializing around cocktails and food, plan some activities like skating, tobogganing and snowshoeing. “Walking up a long toboggan hill four or five times can be equivalent to a 20-minute run,” says Jeff Vossen, a personal trainer from Antigonish, NS. Even snow shovelling can be fun family time and help to burn off extra calories if you overindulged the night before.

2. Lower your standards temporarily

Don’t fall into the “all or nothing” trap – some exercise is always better than none. When time is tight, do just half of your regular workout or slip out of your dance class early. “When you break your habit of regular exercise, not exercising can easily become your new habit,” says Vossen. “And then it’s a struggle to get back to your old routine, especially if you’ve gained weight and lost your previous fitness level.”

3. Go harder and shorter

Another option is to compress your workouts and up the intensity. Instead of three or four standard workouts per week, Vossen temporarily shifts his busiest clients into shorter and more intense boot camp workouts that they do just two or three times a week.

4. Try the 10-minute workout

When even a shortened workout won’t fit your schedule, squeeze in two five-minute quickies. For example, try consecutive one-minute sets of push ups, ab crunches, stationary lunges, squats and calf raises when you step out of bed in the morning. Before bed the same night, choose five favourite stretches and hold them for one minute each.

5. Plan a sun and surf getaway

If you have some spare cash, plan some beach time for the New Year. According to Vossen, “Booking an early-winter vacation that involves a bathing suit is one of the best ways to stay motivated to stick with your exercise routine and eat healthy over the holidays.”