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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

12 Days of Xmas Fitness Consistency

The end-of-year holidays are a time to let go of your normal routine, let your hair down, and take it easy. It’s also when we tend to eat more food, watch more TV and do less exercise. That’s a formula that’s starkly at odds with the fitness routine that underpins the other 11 months of the year for many of us. But it doesn't mean that you have to let your good habits slide over the silly season. Here’s a new take on the 12 Days of Xmas that will keep you on track and allow you to enjoy the end-of-year break.

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Fitmas

On the 1st Day of Christmas . . . Create a Schedule

Just because the rest of the world abandons all routine during the holiday season, does not mean that you have to. It is possible to slow down and unwind while also maintaining your good exercise habits, but it will only happen if you plan for it to happen.

During the holidays, your routine will be different. You may be on holiday, and you’ve probably got activities planned with friends and family. Your normal workout routine is unlikely to work within this new framework. But you should still be able to get in 3 workouts per week.

Sit down with a planner and plot in three exercise sessions per week that will work with your holiday schedule. Do some research to find out what gyms will be available in your holiday destination and the times they’re open. Plan to get your sessions in early so you don’t interfere with your time with loved ones.

On the 2nd Day of Christmas . . . Try Different Exercise Options

The end of year holidays is a time to experiment with new and different types of exercise. Look for opportunities to integrate exercise into the activities that you and your loved ones are doing. Plan a few hikes in the woods, have pick-up games of football and basketball, or take a few group fitness classes with your partner.

On the 3rd Day of Christmas . . . Jump Rope

A jump rope is possibly the best fitness investment you can make - especially during the holiday period. For just a few dollars it provides you with a portable cardio workout device so you can turn any downtime into a calorie burning frenzy. For the time invested, jumping rope burns more calories than either a treadmill or an elliptical.

When you start feeling a little guilty that you’re not maintaining your rigid workout routine, simply pull out your jump rope and do a few 60 seconds skips. It’ll make you feel great while helping to burn off some of those extra holiday calories.

On the 4th Day of Christmas . . . Move During the Commercials

During the Xmas season, you are likely to be spending more time than normal in front of a TV screen. That means you’ll be suffering through around 20 minutes of mindless ads every hour. Make use of that downtime, by jumping down on the floor and doing some calisthenic exercises.

For example, you could challenge yourself to do the wall sit during the length of the ad break or do a circuit made up of push ups, plank, crunches, and mountain climbers, transitioning from one to the next with each ad change.

On the 5th Day of Christmas . . . Take on a Fitness Challenge

Take advantage of the change of routine by giving yourself a physical challenge over the holidays. A challenge will supply the motivation infusion that we all need to stay active during the silly season. Why not take on a 30 days to 30 pull ups challenge? Or how about 6 weeks to a hundred push ups?

Make sure that your challenge is something you can do at home and that just takes a few minutes each day to complete.

On the 6th Day of Christmas . . . Change Your Gym Routine

Most of us are tunnel visioned when we go to the gym; we do our set workout, and then we leave. Take the opportunity during the holiday season to break out of your normal routine and try different exercise options. Try doing your normal free weights workout with kettlebells, experiment with such functional fitness tools as battle ropes and the sled, and take a group fitness class. You’ll be amazed at how much more your gym offers!

On the 7th Day of Christmas . . . Get the Family Moving

Look for opportunities to engage your family in movement focused games and activities. Make it fun, engaging, and age-appropriate. You might create an obstacle course or a treasure hunt that involves plenty of walking, searching, and pondering. Once you're done, go and enjoy an ice cream together!

On the 8th Day of Christmas . . . Drink Water

It’s a given that you will consume more calories than normal over the December/January period. One way to minimize the damage is to stay well hydrated. Have a full glass of water when you get up in the morning and then sip from a water bottle throughout the day. When it’s time for a meal, begin the proceedings with another glass of water. That will fill up space in your stomach. You’ll still have room for a piece of apple pie - but not for two!

Here’s a workout you should try:

On the 9th Day of Christmas . . . Prioritize Sleep

It’s when you sleep that your body recovers, rebuilds, and recharges. Enjoying the holiday season doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on your good sleeping habits. It may mean adjusting your bedtime hours slightly to accommodate for parties and other outings but you should still plan to get a solid 7-8 hours sleep each night.

On the 10th Day of Christmas . . . Surround Yourself With Protein Snacks

Snack foods are just as much a part of the silly season as Xmas trees and mistletoe. Whether you’re watching Netflix or lounging by the pool, you’ll want to have something tasty to munch on. Do yourself a favor and make that snack healthy.

Protein snacks are great because they fill you up while also supplying an amino acid infusion to maintain your muscle mass. You can shop for protein bars and protein balls and even experiment in the kitchen and create your own protein based baked goods.

On the 11th Day of Christmas . . . Control Portion Size

You can and should enjoy food over the holiday period. But there’s no reason why you should become a glutton. You’ve got too much respect for your body, right? Discipline yourself at the kitchen table. Don’t let your eyes override your appetite.

View treats foods as exactly that. By limiting it to just one piece of cheesecake, you’ll be satisfying your sweet tooth without feeling guilty. And you won’t have to suffer from that uncomfortable bloated feeling afterward.

On the 12th Day of Christmas . . . Limit Alcohol Intake

Nothing is going to unravel your hard work to maintain a healthy weight than overindulging in alcohol over the holidays. There are 7 calories in every gram of alcohol, which is nearly double that of carbohydrates. So, in an evening of drinking, it’s possible to pour thousands of empty calories into your body.

Make a resolve to limit yourself to a predetermined alcohol intake - and then have the discipline to say no.

Summary

You can definitely enjoy all the fun and relaxation of the holiday season and maintain your health and fitness habits. Implement our 12 days of Xmas plan and you’ll come out of the holiday season refreshed, refueled, and still in great shape.

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