That being said, please be mindful that this is the time of year when most people to tend to cheat on their trainer. Well, not really on their trainer personally, but on their diet and fitness program. It’s truly a perfect storm…if there ever was one. Why?
For starters, as people take time to vacation and travel more, most fail to plan for the lack of “routine” a consistent exercise program provides.
Second, as the Holiday Season approaches, it is expected that we live and breathe the “Holiday Spirit”. However, in this day and age, when we are constantly being bombarded with phone calls, text messages, emails, and doing errands for our bosses, spouses, kids, parents, friends and even pets, there is barely enough time to literally breathe, let alone wishing “peace on earth and good will”.
Next, most media perpetuates the Spirit of the Holidays by producing “feel good” movies and television shows where the main characters may have a temporary dilemma, but in the end, “all’s right with the world.” That’s not always so in real life. Even commercials are thrown at us saying how we should be at our happiest this time of year.
As a result, depression can set in; especially if we have our sites set on unrealistic expectations. At that point, the body, as well as the mind, is poised for succoming to Temptation. And that’s the final ingredient needed to complete this “recipe” for disaster. Let’s face it people…there is no cheating without temptation. Just ask Adam and Eve. And then, things begin to spiral out of control.
Because, when we are “depressed”, we have low levels of endorphins like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. And, in order to regain that “high”, most people turn towards comfort “foods” like alcohol and sugar as a source of immediate gratification. Each of these Holiday Staples have the same basic, yet immediate effect on the human body…the more it has, the more it wants. And that, coupled with the “harsh reality” that our lives aren’t as perfect as they “should” be, just perpetuates the cycle.
Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying that you can never order off the menu you’re only supposed to be “lookin’ at”. However, you need to make sure you set and follow boundaries, so you never stray too far or lose control. For example, if I know I am going to be in a situation where healthy choices are limited, I’ll make an initial concession and allow myself to indulge on one particular item and stop there. Just ask the waiters at Hop Li! I downed another order of spicy fried calamari last Sunday night! But that’s where my “fling” ended. There was no rice, not dessert and certainly no alcohol. Just some steamed fish and veggies. I scratched the itch, but I didn’t break the skin!
However, it does take an incredible amount of discipline to walk the fine line of livin’ a little and throwin’ all of your hard work away. Because once the line is crossed from psychological temptation to physiological dependency, the cycle is hard to break. While giving in “just once” to a forbidden pleasure may be your intention, the body’s need to satisfy whatever chemical craving your indulgence created, more often than not, is stronger than your desire to stop it.
So, how does one arm oneself when facing a Holiday Season that’s not as “bright” as one would like? Simply, live in reality. Remember, you are not alone. Everyone has something in their life they would like to change. And change it, if you can. But, more importantly, everyone also has something to be very, very grateful for. So, when you are down and out, don’t reach for another drink or a second or third helping of dessert. Just sit back and reflect on what you are grateful for and schedule your next workout – whether it is with your trainer, a workout partner, or yourself. Believe it or not, the endorphins produced during a strenuous workout are the same as those resulting from the digestion of alcohol and sugar. So choose the “pain killers” you can’t find at the dinner table or bar. You’ll just have to work a little harder to produce them.