Nathan Haas: Staying active over the silly season!

I’ve been here before, to this exact moment. Last time I said I’d be better. That I’d do better. But I’m reminded again by my inability to say “no” to that extra slice of Christmas cake, to that plate of cookies and a cold drink. Turns out that I am weaker than I’d like to be. I am after all, only human, and it’s the silly season. 

Family visits, work parties, traditions of table fare, and endless whispers of,” go on then, one more…” I can’t say I dislike it, in fact, I love this time of year, but it always kills the work I’ve done on my fitness, on my waist line and my routines. But, I’m here to tell you there is hope. Hope I tell you, this isn’t just about hardship, it’s about having your cake, AND eating it too. 

I rarely tell people to burn the candle at both ends, but there’s a time and a place to go all in and that’s December. Normally when people ask me for training advice I don’t start with what they should add to their lifestyle, in fact, I start with what they can subtract. ie: less alcohol (none ideally), getting rid of junk food, staying home and not partying, essentially reducing the unnecessary and focusing on the basics, and then build training in from there. 

The holidays, however, I break the rules myself. I don’t like subtractive theory this time of year. I’d feel like the grinch if I pushed my mum’s famous, yet often slightly burned Christmas cake away. So what’s my strategy then? Additive theory. 

Look, if you’re going to add a whole bunch of calories to the body, laze around (insert holiday tradition here), I’d highly, highly recommend that you get yourself moving. I don’t like to see body weight as an absolute sign of health, nor do I advocate overzealous counting of calories, but in the holidays its simple, there’s a lot going In, so if you want to reduce the impact on your weight, your fitness, discipline, and routine I have a few simple suggestions. 

You might not be able to take your bike with you everywhere, but don’t fret! We have feet for a reason. Don’t underestimate the difference that a 5-10 minute jog can make. Additionally, you can make a pact with a partner, a child or family member that you will do an online gym class, my favourite is Zumba, bet you didn’t expect that. For the end of the day? Well, a family walk after a meal can be not only cathartic but has a huge effect on the metabolism. 

If you do have your bike, and more importantly, access to a home trainer, you can find time to fit in a super quick session. If you’re in the Northern hemisphere my guess is your trainer is already set up, so you have no excuses. In fact, if you’re looking to get out of food prep, clean up or maybe avoid a few heated family discussions on politics or similar, it’s a great excuse to excuse yourself. 

But the golden rule of all golden rules in the holiday period comes in the form of a question; If you never make time, then how will you ever have time? That is, schedule it in your day, make the time, even if it’s only a 20-minute hit out on your favourite climb, keep to your schedule and believe me, you’ll feel a lot less guilty having that extra slice of cake, and you’ll have lost almost none of the work you’ve done. 

Now, go and enjoy your holidays and stay safe.