Steer into the skid

Way back in Driver’s Ed class I remember a two point lesson we were taught if our car ever got into a skidding situation.

First, look where you want to go.

Second, turn your wheels so you steer into the skid.

The first tip is important because it’s easy to fixate on the object that you are careening toward as it grows closer and larger and moves faster at you. We instinctively move toward what our eyes focus on. Good for targeting, not good for brick walls.

The second tip is to get control back as best you can. You want to align your tires in the direction the car is sliding so they can roll with the inertia rather than skidding against it.

As Christmas approaches, so do gatherings, feasts and treats. It can also feel like fitness could skid out of control over these couple months. Is it hyperbole to see one holi-DAY causing two months of lifestyle chaos?

How can these Drivers’ Ed lessons help us here?

As the days accelerate into many directions, we can feel our traction starting to slip and that pucker-factor starts to kick in. If I pause my fitness I can get through this, but how much will I be set back afterward – and can I get back on track again?!

Where do you want to go? What do you want to be able to say for yourself at the end of the season?

I want to be able to enjoy the social connections and meals (and some desserts!) that take place while still keeping my health goals as a priority.
I want to make sure that I keep up with a few essential actions that are within my control that will help the most. As the “driver” of my body I have the responsibility and ownership of that priority. No one else can do it, or should take the blame for my lack of ownership.

Obsessing over how I am going to screw up all the hard work I put into the past months or year, how I don’t have time to work out or how I can’t eat healthy is the same as locking eyes onto that brick wall. Instead of focusing on all that can go wrong I set my eyes on where I want to go.

How can I turn into the skid that is the holidays?

During the holidays, people tend to move less and eat more (and more of things they likely wouldn’t at other times of year). So if our skid affects our eating and activity levels then our “turning into the skid” needs to address that too.

Looking at enjoying the season while still keeping my health goals as a priority, I intend to prioritize getting in the activity I know will preserve muscle and keep my fitness momentum, and focus on TWO secret weapons for eating on track.

Here is how I “turn into the skid”:

Getting to the gym becomes even more important. Missing days of activity has a compounding effect so double down on not having back-to-back days of skipping training. I guarantee you will feel better mentally and physically by doing whatever it takes to follow through on this. Committing to showing up at the gym holds you accountable to your priority. Need to do more? Throw on a weighted pack and get in a 20-30 minute ruck walk on the other days. Getting some resistance training twice each week along with doing physical effort that gets you somewhat breathless on more days of the week rather than less becomes the minimum. This way you know you are looking after the physical side.

The two simple eating strategies I make effort to keep during tough or busy times are
1 – Prioritize getting good protein at each main meal (usually 3).
2 – Prioritize getting a daily target of vegetables/fiber. (I aim for 6-8 servings of veggies)

These two priorities fall under my control and do take intention, but it’s not unreasonable. A bit of planning and some prepping makes them available even when in a time crunch. The big benefit is how they help me feel fuller and more nourished. Notice how off-track food is harder to resist when you are really hungry? It’s ok to have some off-track food for the joy of it, it is also ok to enjoy a reasonable amount that doesn’t throw you off track. And these two strategies are serious heavy-hitters when staying on track. You can make extra protein portions and chop veggies yourself, or you can buy precooked and prechopped favorites.

If you tend to feel that this time of year sets you back and you are at the mercy of the seasonal demands, that you end up skidding out of control of all your best intentions, try these tips to help you out. Simplify what is within your control. Start with your focus and where you want to go. Then take direct action to get you realigned as best you can so you can get back your steering control and with some practice and grace you can find your way successfully through without getting stuck in the ditch.

If you need more help, our experienced coaches can act as your holiday “driving instructor” and guide you through some of the slips and slides. Click HERE to see about meeting with a coach and making a custom strategy for you.

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