It’s okay if you’re still nibbling on the leftovers from your holiday cookie-swap or treating yourself to the occasional vegan hot cocoa. The key, of course, is balance, which is why we’ve created five tips to help get over the mild indulgences we enjoyed during the previous month. These tips will keep you active for the entire winter season … without chaining yourself to the elliptical for hours on end.
1. Go shopping
Whether you’re returning an ill-fitting sweater or looking to spend that Christmas cash, a trip to the mall is nearly inevitable this time of year. One way to turn this adventure into a way to burn calories is by parking in the furthest stall possible, and watch the steps on your new FitBit soar. Malls are also great for getting your steps in during inclement weather. Instead of beelining to your favorite store, take a few extra laps. Why trudge along on a treadmill when you can exercise, check returns off your to-do list, and take advantage of those post-holiday sales?
2. Embrace the cold
If you are fortunate enough to live near snow, there are a host of winter sports to try. Treat yourself to a ski or snowboarding lesson, or rent an inner tube for some fast-paced fun. For those who are less coordinated, snowshoeing is an excellent alternative. Even walking through snow takes a good amount of energy! Those of us who dwell in sunnier climates can still experience cold weather activities via ice skating. Major shopping centers often construct outdoor ice rinks for the season, and indoor rinks offer open skate times. Need help with staying on two feet? Make sure your core and leg muscles are tight. Flexing those muscles will help with balance and give you some additional calorie burn.
3. Work the gym deals
As a former personal trainer, I know the ins and outs of the membership sale. The weeks surrounding New Years are prime promotion time, and sale associates are eager to hit their numbers (most are commission-based). When signing up for a new membership, keep in mind that there is likely a better deal than the one first offered. With a bit of negotiation, “discounted” enrollment fees will be entirely waived. Also, take advantage of the free assessment offered; it’s a free workout! Just beware the personal trainer pitch afterwards (unless a trainer is something you are interested in). Of course, gym memberships are beneficial only if you actually go. If your schedule allows, train during non-peak hours to avoid the three week post-New Year’s craze. If you must face the crowds, have a Plan A and B before you go. If the elliptical is taken, be ready to run or ride a bicycle. Classes are another great motivation, especially if you make a few friends to hold you accountable!
4. Sign up for races
Similar to gyms and exercise studios, racing companies also offer New Year’s deals. If you’ve thought about trying an obstacle course race, 5K, or even a marathon, now is the time to sign up! Aim for a spring or summer race. This will allow you to capitalize on that resolution motivation, while also giving you adequate time to train. For inspiration, check out the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k and Spartan Race. Signing up for a race can be scary; however, a great deal and the New Year’s spirit will give you the courage to click that registration button!
The spirit of giving doesn’t have to end with the holidays. Extend good cheer throughout the year by volunteering for a local nonprofit organization. Search for hands-on projects such as soup kitchens, meal packing, or charity race volunteers. Most organizations are fairly accommodating if you ask for a specific task (avoid sedentary roles such as sitting at the registration table). If you reside near Los Angeles or Little Rock, AR, check out Burrito Project. You’ll be on your feet for hours making nutritious, vegan burritos and serving them to those in need!
Tanya Flink is a vegan, foodie, and certified Master Personal Trainer based in Orange County, CA.