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In the months running up to the festive period it can be tempting to think that it would make sense to draw a line in the sand come new year, and put off beginning a new training program until January as that will be when you can really commit to it and give it 100%
Whilst this makes sense rationally, I believe this thought process to be a mistake.
Bear with me I’ll explain why…..
Firstly if you are reading these words Pre-Christmas then you are here for a reason. There is something that is compelling you to do your research on health & fitness programs, the top personal trainers and best solutions to your fitness frustrations and one way or another, you have found your way here.
In other words, you have motivation, intrigue and intent….Right Now.
Can your remember a time in the near or distant past when you didn’t have that kind of momentum? Or perhaps you’ve been at this point before and did not act. Answer honestly, Did things get better or worse after that decision?
The reason things got worse is that your physical condition, just like mine and everyone else's is not held in stasis with inaction, quite the contrary, ground is lost in idleness, and it will just be a matter of time before you reach a level of discomfort that brings you back to a point where your only choice is to take action, only when you get there next time you’ll be in a worse position than you are right now.
Put it this way, if you have a track record of not having your health & fitness in order, by which I mean no consistent exercise habit, not eating well nor managing your lifestyle habits (i.e stress & sleep) and you find yourself compelled to research exercise programs…you should take action…not necessarily with me…thats up to you, but you should always capitalise on forward momentum, it’s so much easier than trying to get things moving again from a standing start.
The main concern when it comes to starting an exercise program in the months that run up to Christmas is that there will be temptation with food and it will be difficult to resist, which would offset the progress made in a program.
In my experience there is a great error being made within this decision.
Firstly, in my observation having worked with hundreds of people as a personal trainer, applying an 'all or nothing' mentality to health & fitness is the single biggest mistake you can make, because all of the loses are incurred when nutrition, workouts and lifestyle measures go to nil.
This is because there is a law of entropy acting on our bodies at all times, i.e that which we do not use is taken away, think.. muscle loss, loss of fitness, loss of strength etc, gaining weight etc, now don’t get me wrong this won’t happen overnight, but on a long enough time line, it will happen.
The second reason is that you’ll be entering a period of weeks or months where you’ll be eating indulgently, this generally means large calorie surpluses, so body fat and weight is likely to be gained.
Which means when you revisit your fitness goals in January you will have a longer road in front of you than you do today, and you are already here, something already has to change, so why allow the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be to grow?
This is not to say that you can’t indulge over Christmas, after all life is to be lived. Damage limitation however, can be managed with the right strategy.
Let’s borrow from the ancient stoic philosophers for a moment. If we accept that the festivities of December are going to lead to a little indulgence, enjoying food, a few drinks and some late nights, and this will not change Christmas is what it is, rendering the events somewhat out of your control (of course you could not go, but life is about balance).
The stoic solution therefore would be to choose to lean into what you can control, regaining your personal agency. Essentially what I mean is that if you can’t maintain clean eating through Xmas, then what you can do is stay active.
Deliberately allowing exercise to fall by the way side because you cannot stay with nutrition 100% is akin to waiting until all of the traffic lights are green before starting a car journey.
An example I often give my online personal training clients is that if I were to walk out of the house tomorrow and twist my ankle on my first step, this would not stop me exercising, I would assess the limitations of the ankle and would work my upper body, my core and see if I can swim in a pool where weight bearing might be forgiving on the injury, essentially I would find a way to manage my loses within the reality of the new limitation.
I encourage you to also always seek to find what you can control and dedicate yourself to making the impact you can.
Consider the inversion of the logic of waiting for everything to be perfect, if you consider the only suitable time to pursue a health & fitness goal to be when all elements of the program will be perfect, because this will mean the best possible results will be had…
…then by that same logic, having neither training nor healthy eating in place simultaneously will be where maximal loses and lost ground stand to be incurred.
I am labouring the point here deliberately, because this isn’t really about Christmas, it’s about establishing a mindset that is core to the way I coach, because again, the single biggest mistake you can make in health & fitness is to let your activity go to nil. As a busy person, and as with many things in life, there will never be a perfect time.
There is a more important point here, which may be easier to appreciate through the lens of health than it is fitness…trying to achieve a new fitness goal is one thing, but one should always be working to protect the level of health you currently have, at a minimum.
Take immunity for instance, when we fall sick we tend to throw the kitchen sink at the solution, how many of us defend a position of wellness as vehemently as we fight illness?
There are steps we can all take to improve immunity, especially when it comes to the food we eat and the way we manage stress. Of course there are no guarantees, life doesn’t afford us that luxury, but the stoics might encourage us to focus on that which we can control and not to threat about what we can’t, worrying may only serve to lower our immunity anyway. This will then also apply to maintaining your hard earned muscle, and fitness levels, it’s certainly worth thinking about protecting what you already have.
If you commit here and now to always focusing on what you can control, you will put yourself in a position where you are consistently making incremental progress, no matter the circumstance.
Once this mindset becomes a way of life, you’ll be able to regulate your health & fitness levels year round and Christmas will be no more of a threat to you each year than a few extra calories you look forward to indulging in.
If you would like to jump on a call to discuss what I might be able to help you achieve between now and Christmas, please feel free to schedule a consultation call here