"Y" and How to Stay Fit During the Holiday Season


November / December 2015

By Alicia Martinez

As soon as the temperature begins to drop to the mid-80s in Texas, we know Fall has finally approached and the holiday season is around the corner. Many of us get excited about the boots, layers of clothing and jackets that are soon to display our seasonal fashion sense. However, some of us will use the thicker layered clothing to hide the extra bulge that we haven’t managed to lose all year.


The holiday season brings upon us obligations that influence how we handle everything else, including our workout routine. It brings visits from friends and family, vacations, and what many of us look forward to – holiday foods! With the craziness of family, shopping and end-of-year workloads, each day has us asking - How do I find time to exercise, and most importantly, how do I say no to all of the pumpkin spice flavored foods?

“Y” staying fit is worth the effort? According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the holiday weight gain per individual averages 0.8 to 1.8 pounds per year. That doesn’t sound too frightening, but consider that over a course of 5 to 20 years. The math has us gaining up to 40 pounds!

When you find yourself wanting to skip out on exercising, consider this. Exercise releases all of those feel-good hormones (endorphins) that help us feel great and release physical and mental stress. Exercising increases the chemical in your brain that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. It also allows us to sleep at night after tackling the holiday rush. Exercise has also been found to help control addictions. This applies to eating and the desire to eat EVERYTHING at a holiday party. We can’t forget about how great we want to look and feel when we attend that New Year’s Eve party! Keep this in mind, along with these 6 ways to stay motivated and fit, and you will be sure to maintain, and most likely, lose pounds during the holiday season.

1. Plan Do you know where you’re traveling?

Find out where the nearest gym is and what they have to offer. Just as you plan activities and destinations to do while on vacation, plan on exercising. Make it part your vacation. YMCAs are nation-wide and also located throughout the globe. If you pay for a membership at your local YMCA, many Ys will honor that and grant you access to their facility during your entire stay. The Texas Association of YMCAs now offers a reciprocal membership program. Use your Houston area YMCA membership at any Y in the state for free.

2. Organize a Monthly Schedule

Because we know that the holidays are busy and chaotic, take the time to organize a monthly workout schedule. Yes, plan your workout for the entire month and “pencil” it in on the calendar. Now it is a part of your holiday agenda.

3. Dress for Success

Use your rest day to wash and organize your clothes for the week. Your gym clothes are just as important as the clothes you choose to wear to work. Prepare your gym bag each night to include everything you need for the next day. Heading out of town? Organize your wardrobe to include enough pieces for your entire stay.

4. Time Management

Are you a late sleeper and find yourself rushing in the morning? Do you get home from work and have to handle family obligations? This is where managing your time is crucial. If sleep is what’s most important to you, schedule your workouts in the afternoons/evenings. Workout in the early mornings or before family obligations/activities tie you up for the rest of the day. Most gyms are accommodating to the busy adult. YMCAs may open as early as 4:30 am and close as late as 10 pm.

5. Get with Friends

Having visitors or visiting others during the holiday season? What better time to go to the gym and have some fun! Instead of planning to do a workout on the treadmill, look at your gym’s group exercise schedule. Recruit your relatives and friends to try the Zumba or Spinning class with you. As a member of the YMCA, you are welcomed to bring guests. YMCAs are also accommodating for the entire family by giving you and your guests access to their Child Watch and other programs. Check the Y’s registration policy to see what your guests need to bring – valid ID or Driver’s License, and show up at least 15 minutes before class to be fully prepared. A group exercise class is fun bonding and will give you something to laugh about at dinner time – Who knew Aunt Beth had those dance moves?!

6. Remind Yourself of the Ultimate Goal

Write your “smart” goal on a piece of paper and stick it to your bathroom mirror, or take a picture of it and use it as your phone/ computer’s screen saver. This will be a constant reminder to stay focused and motivated. A “smart” goal should be realistic and attainable. The holiday season is not a time to set a goal to lose 25 pounds! If you find yourself being unsuccessful after several weeks, consider a personal trainer. Ask your gym to recommend someone and look to see what holiday specials they may be running.