December finds many of us busy, busy, busy! The Christmas shopping season has already started, and many of us are also planning holiday parties or events. If there’s ever a time when we find ourselves too busy to exercise, this may be it.
However, now is the time when it’s especially critical for us to really focus on our exercise. Why? Several reasons come to mind:
1) Most people consume more calories in December (holiday treats, anyone?)
2) Most people exercise less in December (holiday parties, anyone?)
3) Most people consume are more sedentary in December (it’s cold outside!)
As the old saying goes: “Failure to plan is planning to fail”. Many of us have worked hard to make progress towards our fitness goals, and the last thing we want to do is see that progress fly out the window this month! For those of us that haven’t yet started on our road to fitness, the last thing we want is to “dig the hole deeper” by putting on another 5-10 holiday pounds!
Make no mistake about it: holiday pounds can accumulate faster than a first snowfall if we’re not careful.
The best thing to do is approach December with a plan. What kind of plan? A plan for fitness. A plan for success.
Now, any management guru will tell us that for a plan to succeed it must be “SMART”:
e) Time Bound
To be Specific, our plan must be as accurate as Santa’s naughty-or-nice list. “I will be healthier in December” just doesn’t cut it. What does “healthier” mean? Specific means nailing down an action such as exercise, diet, sleep, or whatever. The action must be one that you can point at and define.
Measureable means that our plan must have the capability to be measured. So instead of saying “I will exercise more in December” we should say “I will exercise 3 times each week throughout December”. See the difference? When a plan is measureable it’s easy to determine if we were successful – either we exercised 3 times each week in December or we didn’t. There’s no wiggle room!
Third, our plan must be achievable. A plan that is not achievable will only make us sad, frustrated and depressed. Sure, we could plan to exercise 7 days each week, but is that achievable? Could we really do that all month? Probably not. Let’s face it, we really are busy in December and 3 exercise sessions each week in December is probably more achievable.
Next, our plan must be realistic. Now, forget all about the infomercials that promise “you can lose 50 pounds by next week” because that’s simply not realistic. It took us years to put on this weight, so let’s not be tempted to think we can take it off in mere weeks. A realistic plan would be to lose 1-2 pounds of fat each week. That’s what our doctors recommend, and that’s what real fitness experts recommend. Lose weight any faster than that and we’re likely losing muscle and water weight instead of fat.
Finally, our plan must be time bound. In other words, we must set a deadline. It’s not enough to simply say “We’re going to exercise more” or even “We’re going to exercise more in December” because time slips by and pretty soon it’s Christmas already! Having a time bound plan means that we commit to taking specific actions at specific times.
Let’s attack December with a good plan! Here are some examples to get us started:
Example 1) “I will exercise 4 times per week throughout December with the goal of losing 1.5 pounds per week (on average). My exercise will be at the gym each Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a 25 minute walk over the weekend.”
Example 2) “I will drink 12 ounces of water and eat a protein bar before each and every holiday party this month. Once at the party, I will enjoy myself and taste all the treats available, but I will not eat any fried foods at any holiday party.”
It’s important that we all have a plan this month. Failure to plan is planning to fail! So let’s take a few minutes to write out our own plan on paper, and then let’s post it where we’ll see it every day. Let’s plan to succeed this month!
Tracie Johanson is the founder of Pick Up The Pace, a 30-minute exercise studio for women focusing on fitness, health and nutrition for maximum weight loss. Please visit http://www.letspickupthepace.com/ for more information.