While the holiday season brings times of joy and celebration, it is often tainted with juggling holiday parties, kids events, family gatherings, and travel. While all fun activities, they can contribute to a stressful experience. As athletes, we all know that there is only an infinite amount of stress the body can handle. Holiday stresses of staying up too late, eating tempting treats, and overall training fatigue can create a loss of training motivation or just plain not riding. Not fun, given exercise can aid in reducing stress. So, what is the balance during the holidays to reduce stress, maintain fitness, and still hit all the holiday parties and complete those endless shopping lists?
Manage Expectations! Are your expectations for the holidays realistic? Asking yourself this question is the first step to managing holiday stress. Make a list of what you expect from yourself and your family during the holidays. Hidden within these expectations you might find your potential holiday stressors — the things specific to you that can cause stress. Once identified, you can then write down what changes you can make to prevent or defuse stress. At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado, we get a lot of input from our customers as to common holiday stressors. Here’s what we’ve got to say to beat the stress and still maintain your fitness.
Stress #1 – Weight gain. Obviously, increased caloric intake combined with less exercise is going to add a little weight. A little gain in the off season isn’t so bad; however, you don’t want a little weight gain to grow into a lot. So, focus on eating well. The holidays offer irresistible food temptations adding extra pounds to our waste lines and robbing us of precious energy. Instead of reaching for the holiday goodies, opt for nutritious snacks. Eating poorly during the holidays can affect mood and motivation towards training. Focus on good nutrition and choose your bike nutrition when you need it most- on the bike. Being mindful of your food choices can positively affect your energy levels and help maintain your ability to ride and perform better. It will help you feel better about yourself too!
Stress #2 – Too Many Things to Do. The holidays can make anyone feel scattered and worn out. Yet, the flurry of holiday activities makes time precious. Take the time you need to prioritize your ride schedule. You may not have time for a lengthy ride, so make the most of the time you do have. Employ the strategy of focus and control. Increase your focus on what you can control. Let go of things beyond your control. Think about it and write it down. What can you control? Set priorities and let go of impossible goals. Regarding your cycling training, you can certainly focus the intensity, duration, and consistencies of your workouts. Using a heart rate monitor or power meter can help. You can also control the elements surrounding your training, as in, your bike parts, bike functioning, and being well prepared nutritionally to get the best out of your workouts.
Stress #3 – Guilt. Yep, there it is. As a cyclist, you want to ride. You know you should ride. And yet, you don’t. And, you beat yourself up for not riding. We’ve all been there. The strategy for dealing with guilt is just to accept it and move on. Give yourself a break mentally and physically knowing the holiday season doesn’t last forever. If you just can’t find the time or motivation to ride during the holiday season, at least feed your velo passion with pictures of new road bikes , new mountain bikes, and cool bike parts. This will feed your spirit and breathe life into next year’s bike season. In fact, the post, Missing training – Adjusting the plan, reminds us, “ It’s easy to beat yourself up over missed training, but if you have been steady with training, give yourself a break. Gaining fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days and losing fitness doesn’t happen in one or two days. It takes months of steady training to gain good fitness. A few days missed or logging a fewer less hours than planned for a week is a small blip on the radar.”
While the holiday season can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be. It’s all in your approach. Try your best to make good food choices, exercise, and relax to restore energy. Balance is key and you’re in control Happy Holidays!