Dan Staton MS, PES
Fitness & Archery Editor

The holidays can be a joyous time of year shared with family and friends, but they can also bring implications of stress and anxiety.  Each year, we struggle to keep up with often-unrealistic demands and expectations that we unknowingly put on ourselves.  That’s why it is so important for all of us to relax and take good care of ourselves.  What shape will you be in heading into the New Year?  My contention is that way too often the shape you end up in after the holidays, ends up being the shape you are in when hunting season arrives.  Let’s look at a few guidelines for surviving the holidays so you can have increased energy and reduced stress, this season and all year long.
Take time for yourself. Although spending time with friends and family is essential, it’s also important to have at least twenty minutes to yourself to break a sweat.  Aim to exercise 20 minutes a day versus a typical hour.  The 20 minute workout can be more than sufficient, if you give your best effort.  Often times, less is more when it comes to training.  Try a 20 minute run, but perform a few sets of sprints throughout the run.  Make up your own circuit to do at the gym or in your garage.  Body weight exercises can be challenging and if performed without rest, you can collect a cardio and strength dividend all in one shot.  I know that if you train first thing in the morning, you’ll have more energy for the rest of the day and nothing can rob you of your workout time since it’s already banked.

Enlist a friend or family member to train with you.
Walking and talking with a friend can be a great way to burn extra calories and reduce your stress level.  It’s always more motivating to have a trustworthy peer along your side than going at it alone.  You might get more out of your workout if you can make the workout foster friendly competition: pull-up or push-up contest, rowing or swimming or a game of one-on-one on the hard woods.  We all possess a sliver of competitiveness, so use it to your advantage.  Training is more productive and more fun when you have a training partner.

Create a new and more active tradition.
Instead of hosting a dessert or cocktail party, try snowshoeing or ice-skating as an alternate holiday event.  Take the kiddos sledding, have a snowball fight or build a snowman.  There are plenty of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, so be creative and lace up your winter boots.  The holidays don’t have to take place indoors, get outside.

Moderation is key.  
You’ve heard this, but who practices it?  If you enjoy your favorite foods in small portions, you’ll feel more satisfied. Trying to stay away from certain foods may leave you feeling deprived, which may cause you to eat more than you intended to.  Before you hit up the holiday parties, take in plenty of water. Although the cold weather may make you less inclined to grab a glass of water, it is just as important in the winter as it is during the summer. Water helps counter the dehydrating effects of travel or drinking alcoholic beverages and it may also help satiate your appetite since thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  This is a great habit to form now and you can roll it into the New Year, aiding in your health and wellbeing.

In closing, don’t aim for perfection and enjoy the imperfections. There is no such thing as the perfect party or the perfect decorations or the perfect way to spend the holidays. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by placing unrealistic demands on yourself.  Just know that the older we get, the harder it is to lose those unwanted pounds, so be mindful this holiday season.  Do yourself a favor, train throughout the week, practice moderation and head into the New Year knowing that your momentum will carry you through hunting season.  Stay in shape and enjoy the holidays.