The last month of the year is a time when routine can often be broken. With the general downshift of discipline alongside the upshift in social events, parties and gatherings, it can be difficult to keep a consistent schedule with your eating and exercise.
This is the nature of the holiday season.
But here’s a sane, simple way to stay on track. I call it the Year-End Fitness plan.
1. Have a contingency plan
The contingency plan follows a formula: If X happens, then I will do Y.
For example, if I cannot get to the gym on any given day, I will do a 10 minute circuit at-home before dinner.
Having a contingency plan takes the thinking and stress out of figuring out what to do if the ideal scenario is not possible. It also supports continued consistency which is really more important than the workout itself.
Don’t overthink your contingency plan. Have one full-body workout that can be done with your body-weight.
A sample: Complete the circuit below as many times as possible in 10 minutes.
8 Hand-Release Push Ups
4 Table Twists
2. Follow the first bite rule
The first bite rule demonstrates that what you put in your mouth first is the food tht you’ll eat most of during that meal.
For example, when subjects started their meals with French Fries they ate 50% more calories from that food. On the other hand, subjects who started their meals with veggies ate more of that food overall during that meal which meant less calories and more nutrients.
When you are going in for a meal start with whole-food, nutrient dense foods first. Then, if you feel like it, consider the treats.
3. Give yourself a new challenge
Nothing matters more than motivation when it comes to exercise and nutrition consistency.
Regardless of how efficacious the program or diet is, if it doesn’t fire you up, then you won’t follow through on it.
When I feel burned out or unmotivated or when I’ve just completed a program, I find a new challenge or skill that I want to learn that helps me stay in shape.
I just completed the SS5 Lean Bulking Program which was an intense 12-week strength training program.
My mind and body were ready for something different. This is why I have shifted my training focus from gaining size and strength to leanness and athleticism. I also changed the training modality to primarily kettelbell and body-weight training.
I bought the BigFoot and did my first training session with it yesterday. The new challenge is motivating and working out doesn’t feel like a chore.
Here’s me and BigFoot throwin’ down:
This is the point: You need to stay motivated in order to stay consistent.
I’ve found that December is a good time to change things up and build some momentum going into the new year.
Here are a few challenge ideas:
- Change your desired training outcome (Example: If you’ve been training to be lean for years, switch it up to train for strength).
- Change your training modality. (Example: If you’ve been training in a conventional gym for years, challenge yourself to learn how to use kettlbells).
- Change your environment. (Example: If you’ve been strength training indoors for years, challenge yourself to run, swim, and cycle outside).
The Holiday’s are always busy and obstacles are part of the journey when it comes to exercise and nutrition. But being adaptive is the most underrated skill of life. If you can adapt, you can be consistent — and you and I both know that what Gretchen Rubin says is accurate: “What you do everyday is more important than what you do once in a while.”