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Tell Me Tuesday: How to Survive December

I'm going to skip over the green bean/sweet potato/pumpkin pie extravaganza that is less than 48 hours away and jump right into the merry old month of December. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it's a tough month to stick to a sweat schedule: the days are short, the motivation levels are even shorter, and everywhere you turn, there are mounds of Hershey Kisses in red and green foil.

What I don't want you to do: not to enjoy the season. Drink some eggnog; have a dinner of just mini quiches and sugar cookies and wine; go out with friends and celebrate.

What I do want you do to: keep taking care of yourself. Don't sacrifice sleep; don't overindulge to the point of nausea or regret; remember that the cuckoo stays in the clock, for most of us, when we slice out a piece of time to sweat.

But how do you find the time between concerts and cards and stringing popcorn and not stringing your kids up to dry? Oh, glad you asked. You plan, and you give yourself a little tough love.

--Make a calendar for your workouts before December starts, so you don't get all wishy-washy and pretend that the 30 minutes of exercise you did three days ago will sustain your sanity for this week. I promise you: it won't.Β  Here's a basic one I put together for my December:

December: Thar she blows.

--What you'll note: no workout is over 60 minutes long and nothing has intervals or tempo attached to it. I may pick things up a bit, especially on the bike, so I don't die of boredom, but inΒ  my mind, December is not about training. (It's a different story, I realize, if you have a marathon in January or February.) Really, it's just about letting my pores pour so that the most important things I need to maintain during this month--my patience, my love for my family, my sense of humor--are still intact when I see Ryan Seacrest drop the ball into 2012.

--I'm keeping on the iron. Kind of. I admit: I was loathe to schedule strength training. But I don't want to start from ground zero muscle strength on January 1. I have a hard enough time doing a push-up after months of practice. If I totally jump ship, I'll be back to quaking pecs after 1 measly puuuuussshhh/grunt attempt.

--I'm trying to have variety. That said, it's pretty one-dimensional right now: swim, bike, run. I'd like some more variety, but I need to see how my hamstring plays out before I get all Zumba on you. I am going to the mountains with my family after Christmas, so am planning some cross-country skiing and snowshoe excursions. That said, I encourage you to think outside your running shoes: 11 months is plenty of time to train. A few maintenance runs a week is plenty, leaving you some time to Spin or Crossfit or pole dance or whatever intrigues you.

--Still, I have to motivate. And so do you. Lawd, it's so dark on December mornings, but here's how to get out of bed:

Excuse the PG-13 language: this was too funny not to post.
  • It's always easier for me to rise and shine when I've been sleeping for at least eight hours. I won't go turn geeky on you, but more and more studies are proving that sleep is vital for health and energy and weight control and everything else, save that cute sweater from Anthropologie, that we crave. Try not to sacrifice it for Facebook time or anything else that isn't as important as your well-being.
  • Heed your alarm. These days, when I push snooze, I end up drooling for 45 minutes--not the 5 I'd planned--and sacrifice the workout. So I set my alarm a little later, and when it goes off, I pretend it's a barfy kid that needs my help and rocket out of bed.
  • When I'm not up-and-at-em at the alarm and am debating do I really need to get up today, I promise myself if I do it today, I'll let myself sleep in tomorrow. Then I play the same trick on myself again the next day. Stupid human tricks, but they work.
  • And the same old rules apply: lay out everything, from your pre-workout banana to your music to your mittens, the night before. As much as you're dragging and don't want to do it in the p.m., I swear, it's 8,000 times harder in the a.m.

Now you tell us: what strategies and tips do you have for getting through December?





26 responses to “Tell Me Tuesday: How to Survive December

  1. LOVE the internet comment! It would be perfect for work, too πŸ™‚

    I am a post-work runner. Seems that a good sweat helps me cleanse from the work day and then I feel more equipped for being calm and conscious for my family. I teach, so I am at work by 7:30 and ready to get out for a run by 4.

    Each Sunday my family sits down and we go over the calendar for the week. That’s when I figure out my game plan-class, weight train, run, etc.- for each day. The gym we belong to has great classes and so I try to mix in one or two on the weekends or during the week. I will try to go with a coworker once or twice a week as well-having a friend on the next ‘mill makes for less tedium.

    When I feel like slugging around instead of going to the gym I ask myself, “How will you feel afterward?” If I know I need the slug time, I know I will be at peace. If I am just being lazy, I know I will feel great because I will have kicked in the endorphines!

    Happy December to all!

  2. LAst year I joined two different fitness challenges to get me through the holidays, one was a “maintain don’t gain” and the other accumulated points over the course of Dec and Jan. The points one was local too so I was seeing people face to face and that totally upped the accountability factor. Definitely kept me aware of my choices and motivated me to keep those workouts going!

    And I totally laughed right out loud at the “can’t go to bed” thing. SO funny!!

  3. I signed up for a holiday half mid-December. I find that I do my best workouts when I’ve actually paid for a race. So, that’s how I’m rolling πŸ™‚

  4. I know I’ll get in at least 2 work-outs a week because I’m signed up (and have paid for!) 2 kick-boxing classes a week. It also helps that the instructor of those classes is a co-worker, so I’m accountable if I miss a class. As for any other work-outs….unfortunately, it’s so easy to say I’ll do it the next day!

  5. Today was a dreary drizzly day. Dh was home and dog needed a walk so we went out for about 2 miles.

    Came home to chores and laundry. After eating some leftover Halloween candy, I decided to go for a quick run. Alone. Only 4.14 miles but afterwards I felt so good.

    So just do it!

  6. Loved this post!! Especially loved the internet quote. For me, I really try to focus on how AWESOME I feel after I push myself to do the workout I have on my schedule. Especially those days when I’m dragging, tired, don’t wanna, would rather lie on the sofa with hot chocolate and the fireplace and some cheesy Christmas show on TV, when I MAKE myself get out the door and do my workout I feel so good! Sometimes I just gotta kick my own butt.

  7. I am so lucky to have found a racing team, and from the team I’ve found two groups to run with. What keeps me motivated to keep going out? Remembering the feeling of coming unglued that came with missing two runs earlier this month. Won’

  8. I LOVE the internet quote!! Had me laughing when I read it. Great post, Dimity. Basically from now til New Years’ I feel like I’m in an exercise purgatory. No huge goals looming and all of the holidays lead to lots of food and excuses for me. You’ve got some great tricks and I love the idea of the calendar with scheduled workouts. I did that for November and plan to make one for December as well to keep me on track. I love to see your workout schedule since it’s fairly comparable to something mine looks like, I feel validated. I signed up for a 5:15am bootcamp class at my gym that will be 2 mornings a week…a tish nervous for that, but it will keep me motivated to stay moving. Helps to have a friend attending as well, to keep me honest about it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! (5k Turkey Trot for me!!)

  9. I am aiming for a half marathon in January – and possibly a full in March – jury is out on whether my body will cooperate – either way, I have a PLAN and I’m pretty good at sticking to plans and goals.

  10. This made me laugh at 630 this morning, before I got to making lunches and saying goodbye to the little darlings!!
    This year I have to train throughout Dec as I am running the Houston half in Jan and then they Austin marathon in Feb. Chritsmas eve calls for a 21 mile run which I will probably need as I have my whole family coming to stay for 2 wks!! At least I’ll be bale to eat Christams lunch with no guilt!!

  11. Strength. I am approaching 6 months of daily running….and I feel like a wet noodle. December is knock it into weights gear. I must keep chanting this as my mantra…..

  12. Great blog post!!!! You made me cry w/ laughter at the “don’t overindulge to the point of nausea”. I am 40 yrs old and reading this advice will make me think twice about my Black Friday Night Out’s tally of Stella.

    I’m done w/ running until I totally heal from my right leg shin splints. Sunday’s marathon really aggravated this injury to the point of tears, which is very rare for me to cry from pain. Tears flow easily to sentimental stuff but pain I typically can grit through it.

    My tip for Dec for me… Rejuvenate. I’ll be back to the gym next week to do the elliptical, weights & walking on the treadmill. I’m slowing down this next month to spend more time w/ my monkeys… Zoo visits, baking cookies, making crafts, and whatever else they want to do.

  13. Love how your plan is full of variety and some good ol’ fun in the snow! I’m going to make it through Dec. by meeting myself where I’m at –which is still with a slightly bum hip. I’m sure I could run through it but that’s just trouble. Instead, I’ll stick to pilates, spinning and yoga. When I can run a few minutes pain free- I’ll add on slowly. No more zero to 10 miles for me. Love that I’ve fallen back in love with yoga again, it keeps me present. There’s no room for a drifting mind or making mental lists or ruminating in yoga or I’ll tip right over. Ready for snow here–50 on Thanksgiving?? Ick.

  14. I am super lucky to have my gym … it is a women’s only daily bootcamp that I attend 3x/week. I have to be there at 5:20 and we sweat hard for an hour. Usually, since I’m used to getting up that early regularly it’s not too hard to get up for a treadmill run 2 other days in the week. I usually take a rest day on Saturday and there’s the long run with my girls on Sunday. It’s pretty foolproof even during December.

    Beyond that, I try very hard to do a little extra towards the Christmas rush in November (almost done with my Christmas shopping!) so I’m not so insanely crazed in December and I can enjoy the fun things like parties and ski weekends and such.

  15. I love this post! It started my morning with a smile – thank Dimity.

    Since I’m a teacher and get two weeks off in December, I usually feel less rushed and stressed during this month and tend to give myself the gift of more workout time. But, the closer it gets to Christmas and the more I have to do, I go for shorter, more intense combo workouts. Like circuits, alternating weights and cardio. I like to get it done in the morning, that way I know nothing will get in the way.

  16. December is one of the only months I am not trying to schedule around my husband’s coaching responsibilities and work. When hubby and kiddos are off, I am able to run early BY MYSELF. I push a double stroller most of the time; so the chance to run on my own is a big motivator. If I do, have a night out with friends and have a drink I make sure I drink a ton of water before bed so that I don’t feel any nasty effects in the morning. I don’t really workout for longer than an hour though; this time is very important to our family, and I want to enjoy it.

    I am with Dimity on the rocketing out of bed; if I don’t the workout will be done later in the day but I never feel as good about it. Yesterday, I had a headache and put off getting out of bed…not a good day. Gotta sick to the plan…may cut a run short or switch easy and long days to better fit our schedule but I am committed to getting it done.

  17. Love the idea of filling in my calendar now for Dec…I just hope I can stick to it. I may also sign up for a race. But for my own sanity I know I need to make time for me, and that ‘me time’ is usually a workout. πŸ™‚

    If all else fails tere is always medication! I just keep popping the pills. Ha!

  18. So I’m really all run (and workout) out right now. I completed the Marine Corps Marathon, then did the Annapolis Half this past weekend and next I have a 10k Turkey Chase on Thursday. I’m going to have to mix things up in December. I like the idea of writing out a plan on a calendar and have done it before but I find it hard to stay on target with no race or event to drive me. I’m hoping December will be different.

  19. I purposefully clear my December calendar so I’m not all crazy with too many things to do. That way, when someone says, hey, are you free on Monday for coffee, I go. Less running around=less stress and more time to enjoy family and friends…oh, and a workout here and there too.

  20. Maybe I am crazy, but I absolutely love running in December. I am hoping for snow to get my yaktrax wet. I will say I take it easy – nothing longer than 6-7 miles and no training or runs planned – but trails and scenery are a great motivater in the winter.

  21. I try to plan a race during December…running a Santa Shuffle (bread and hat come with the bib) and then a longer race a bit further off like a half in January or february so I have to train.

    I also like to run on the TM once in a while to actually see how many calories I’m burning. Seeing the number rise and figuring out what I can eat for those calories is a fun game to play to beat the boredom of the TM.

  22. Ok, this post was hilarious! So full of funny “Dimity-isms” that made me laugh out loud! Thanks for inspiring me to perhaps put together a plan for myself… After the turkey, stuffing, pie….:-)

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