By Anna Price
The Holidays are a time of appreciation, giving, and sometimes excess! We can have an excess of things on our plate, and on our “to do” list. All of this over-indulgence can drain our energy and pad our hips, not to mention stress us out when we are supposed to be joyful! How would you like to avoid the holiday stress and excess this year, while still fully enjoying all your get-togethers, and staying healthy and productive at the same time? I’m going to give you TWO amazing gifts to make sure you have a happy, healthy holiday season!
Gift #1 comes in the form a question I bet you haven’t asked yourself recently: What do you usually tolerate this time of year? And by tolerate I mean, what are you putting up with (from yourself and others) that you just know is robbing you of your good energy? Tolerations include people, behaviors, events, our bodies, home or work environments, pressures, expectations, anything that when you think of it or see it, you instantly feel an energy drain. What we put up with, drains us, so eliminating tolerations energizes us. We are more in alignment with who we really are and what is right for us now.
Tolerations lead to the trap of excuses, like saying “I can’t workout or meditate because my normal routine is off.” Well, of course this is totally true, at first glance, but when we take a closer look the deeper truth may be, “I can’t workout or take time out for me because I really don’t want to — so I set myself up by choosing to watch TV late and then I can’t get up early to exercise.” That’s a choice, albeit an unconscious one. I believe we all have the best intentions but we are exhausted from over committing so we don’t have the energy to take good care of ourselves. We’ve all done it…I still do it!
The key is to own it, accept this truth without self-judgement or criticism. What you need is self-compassion. When you get your true needs met, your resistance to making healthy choices goes away. Perhaps you’ll decide to get a massage instead of exercising, maybe you need to exercise at a different time, or choose a different activity you enjoy more. Excuses block solutions. So get rid of them by identifying what you are tolerating.
Write down your Top 7 Holiday Tolerations. Now, eliminate one, and only one, toleration each day for the next 7 consecutive days. Pay attention to what happens.
Okay, I promised you I’d give you two gifts — I have shared one so far, about how to get rid of tolerations to boost your energy so you are happier and can make healthier choices.
When you regain your energy, you’ll want to workout smarter, not longer. Try this efficient and highly effective routine that burns fat for days. These are 4 travel-proof, unstoppable, “do anywhere” exercises you can do at home or while visiting Aunt Linda a.k.a “the sugar pusher” (we all have one) for the holidays.
4 exercises, 1 minute each, 4-5 rounds. The first round is your “rehearsal round,” move at a moderate pace, familiarize yourself with the exercises and learn good form. Round 2-5 you are moving faster and with more intensity than you are normally used to, using good form. Take as many breaks as you need during the minute, so you come back to the exercise strong. As soon as the minute is up, move on to the next exercise (no matter how many reps you complete). Repeat as many rounds as you can until you reach 20 minutes, if you can do more than 20 minutes, you didn’t challenge yourself enough, up the intensity next time.
Use the perceived exertion scale as your intensity guide. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being very easy, 10 all out max.) you want to reach a 10 then take a break and repeat until the minute is up. Repeat this workout every other day (or every 2 days) give yourself permission to recover. On these days, go for long leisurely walks with your family, or just relax (YAY, we like that!), create stillness and silence, do light yoga, pilates, or stretching. Each time you perform you will move faster and stronger with good form, you will complete more repetitions and rounds within 20 minutes. The goal is to do what you can (because that’s enough, no matter what your mind tells you) push the envelope while remaining intuitive—honor your body by honoring your limits.
Before you begin this or any new exercise program, please consult with your health care provider(s). Contact a health and fitness professional for supervision and modifications specific to your body’s needs.
Start every workout with foam roller and/or yoga (alpha) ball exercises for muscular (myofacial) release to promote blood flow, muscular and structural alignment, flexibility and heat to prepare your muscles for the workout and so you can move with proper alignment and form.
Exercise #1 – Mountain Climbers:
Wrists over your shoulders throughout the exercise, shoulders depressed and shoulder blades retracted slightly. Head in alignment with spine, draw your navel into spine (brace your abdominals). Maintain weight in your arms, hips dropped and squared off to the floor. With a stable pelvis, bring one knee toward your chest, switch knees in the air alternating knees continuously.
Modification: Hands or elbows on a chair (seat pan), one knee to chest, extend other leg back, extend both legs back (both feet on the floor) alternate knees.
Added challenge (advanced fitness levels): add a diagonal knee (knee toward opposite shoulder), or, add wide knees: hands elevated on a step, box or bench, jump one foot toward the outside of the step/box/bench bending your knee, hop switch to the other side. Hips and pelvis are stable and still (no bouncing as you switch legs).
Repeat continuously with good form until you need a break or you hit the 1 minute mark.
Exercise #2 – Chair Squats:
Stand about 2 feet in front of a chair, hinge forward at your hips, torso leaning slightly forward (45 degree angle), bend hips, knees (knee caps tracking over first and second toe) and ankles congruently, move hips back and down toward the seat pan (sit bones barely touch the edge of chair), arms crossed in front of chest, brace your core. Stand up fully (shoulders and hips level). Repeat with good form until you need a break or you hit the 1 minute mark.
Modifications: Sit down on the chair completely, pause, and then stand back up fully. A wall squat: lean back up against a wall, walk feet out about 2 feet in front, slide back down the wall until thighs are parallel to the floor, pause for a few seconds at a time, rest and repeat.
Added challenge: (advanced fitness level): Add a hop at the top of the squat (push off—heel ball toe—land softly—toe ball heel). Remove the chair, feet slightly wider than shoulder width, toes turned outward slightly, perform a deeper squat (squat as low as you are able—no to pain, yes to fatigue;) add a higher hop, hold a hand weight or weighted ball at chest level. Add a pause at the bottom of the squat for 10 seconds, and/or pulse (lift and lower in a small pulsing manner) 10 reps.
Exercise #3 – Side Plank:
Elbow directly under shoulder, depress shoulders away from ears, retract shoulder blades back slightly, head in alignment with spine (look straight ahead). Brace your core, slight pelvic tuck, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in a straight line. Initiate hip lift from your hips and center of the body, avoid pressing down into the shoulder and elbow.
Modifications: Start on a chair or the floor, on your elbow, bottom knee bent and resting on the floor top leg straight, or, both legs straight feet staggered (top foot forward, bottom leg back).
Added challenge (advanced fitness levels): bottom hand or elbow on the floor, elevate feet on a bench, stool, chair, or 2 yoga blocks— feet stacked and at hip height. Feet elevated or on floor, reach top arm over head (arm in line with ear) and lift the center of your body into an “arc”, lift top leg up to hip height (leg straight, foot parallel to the floor), drop your top arm to your hip as you lower your leg, then dip your hips toward the floor without losing good form. Perform 30 seconds on each side using good form (take breaks as needed).
Exercise #4 – Bridge:
Lie on the floor face up, knees at a 90 degree angle, feet hip width distance apart. Begin with a slight pelvic tilt (pubic bone moves toward navel), press feet into the floor, lift hips up to knee height (or as high as your flexibility allows), contract (squeeze) your glutes (butt), hands and arms press into the floor for additional hip height and thoracic/spinal extension. Important that the glutes remain contracted in both directions (as you lift and as you lower). Articulate the spine (one vertebrae at a time) while lifting and lowering. Repeat with good form until you need a break or you hit the 1 minute mark.
Modifications: Decrease your range of motion (come up only half way).
Added challenge (advanced fitness level): Place a weighted plate on hips, or, while in highest bridge position, lift one foot off the floor (leg straight) knees in line with each other, lift foot to ceiling then lower leg to knee level (repeat other side). Lie on the floor face up with a chair in front of you, hips as close to the chair as possible. Place heels on the front edge of the seat pan, feet hip width apart. Elbows at 90 degrees, upper arms on the floor (forearms perpendicular to the floor). Press elbows/upper arms into the floor, press heels and feet into the seat pan, lift hips up to knee level, deeply engage the glutes, add a slight pelvic tuck, lift hips a little higher (keep weight across the shoulder blades and away from your neck). Pause at the top for 10 or 20 seconds, or pulse, then lift one leg up to the ceiling…keep pulsing.
End every workout with key muscle and joint specific stretches to promote post workout recovery, relaxation, mobility and decrease pain. Glutes, Quadriceps (front thigh), Hip Flexors (front of the hips), Hamstrings (back thigh), Calves, Chest, Back.
The key to happy holidays is opting out of the tolerations that masquerade as stress and excess. You have in your hands two gifts, but like any gift it’s up to you whether you open them and use them. So, what sort of holiday season do you really want? This is that moment of choice, like switching off the TV at night so you don’t have any excuses later. Happiness and health are in your hands! Choose wisely…and watch out for that ‘Aunt Linda’. 🙂
Wishing you happiness and health!
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