Let’s normalize a few things to make it easier to get through the holiday season.
Exercise and expending our energy for “health” is still a new thing for the human body. We didn’t evolve to move unless there was pleasure or necessity (getting food) involved.
You also might be thinking, “Exercise is good for us. You should be doing it though, and doing it often.”
Sure. BUT…exercise isn’t natural. It’s a work-around to help humans survive in the labor-saving world we created for ourselves.
We didn’t evolve to be so inactive. But walking, light chores, and the occasional burst of energy through dance is more than enough to keep a healthy body.
Rest is also critical to our natural healing and repair mechanisms for the body. It’s natural to conserve energy, rest, and seek comfort – especially in the fall/winter.
But you might also be thinking – “I don’t want to get fat and out of shape either. I need to keep on it.”
That’s the Fitness Industrial Complex’s messaging working perfectly:
GUILT and SHAME.
Guilty for having a perfectly natural body condition: having stored energy underneath your skin in case you need it for later (having fat).
Shame for not meeting a specific body type outlined in the media, American culture, etc. (not being lean), without regard for how you feel in that lean body.
And one thing people feel guilty about is wanting to rest, and not feeling motivated to exercise during the holidays.
It’s okay to exercise just to feel good about ourselves and not just look a certain way.
Even fitness-lovers are unmotivated, want to sleep early, and eat all the food during holidays. They just have people, systems, and practices that hold them accountable that you don’t see.
You’re perfectly normal.
There is so much conflicting information about what we SHOULD be doing.
But there isn’t any actual consensus on the “best types of exercise” for us.
How much and when varies according to a person’s lifestyle, energy, and skill-level.
It’s okay to rest.
My job as an expert is to actually help you curate information so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and especially ashamed about natural things.
You can read an informative and vindicating book about this predicament called: Exercised by Daniel Lieberman
Here’s a few helpful guidelines for your holiday:
- Stop trying to earn your meals by burning calories beforehand – your body doesn’t understand what you’re doing. It will not balance out like a machine equation.
- Stop quantifying how much exercise you did. Instead, measure it subjectively by if it made your daily tasks feel easier, lessen aches and pains, or helped brighten your mood.
- Remember that groups, cultures, and events make it much easier for people to do fitness activities – that will definitely be disrupted by holiday travel.
So this holiday season, what I want you to remember are a few things about real fitness: that even just a few minutes here and there counts. It also adds up.
- There is no perfect amount of exercise across the board.
- It’s okay to rest.
You can do 5-minutes of weight training in the morning, and maybe in the evening. Combine that with a little stretching and walking. You’re more than prepared for the holidays.
Many of you will be traveling. You’ll have to eat fast food, be on the airline’s stressful schedules, or driving with your kids and pets with luggage in tow.
Or maybe you’re staying in town to avoid all that stress. You don’t have to spend all your extra time in the gym.
You’re still a mammal after all. The cold, early sunset, and lack of motivation is really the urge to rest.
Give yourself leeway this holiday season to just punch the clock. Don’t take on any new skills that will require effort to learn.
And for fuck’s sake – don’t start any 30-day squat/burpee/sugar-free challenges.
So here’s what I tell my gym-rats who love to exercise, and the people who know they need to move but have a hard time doing it:
1. Use weights to bend your knees, hips, and shoulders just to keep your ability to move. Don’t worry about building muscle or burning fat.
2. Walking is going to be enough sometimes.
3. You’re not going to lose all your gains and your energy will return once you’ve rested.