Staying fit over the Christmas festive season is tough for everyone. Amazing food, the social catch ups with excessive drinking and of course the it's holidays so who wants to work out - right? Wrong! Here is my tips on how to keep the inches of the waist line over the silly season and keep relatively in shape with this very simple, but effective three part summer fitness strategy. The best part is you can still enjoy all the festive activities.
Christmas time in Australia is a little different to my friends in the north. It's summer, so we have our annual holidays and festive holidays so everyone pretty much the whole month off. It's beach time, beer time and loads of BBQs. It's too hot to run and too nice to exercise. So what's the solution?
My solution is pretty simple, but it has been working for me since I was 20 years old, over 23 years and counting. But before we get to that, a brief history of how this all came about. I wasn't always fit and trim, in fact my nick name in primary school was 'tubby' (thanks Mick!). Man I loved those lollies. In high school I was pretty active so kept the weight off, but as soon as school finished and I bought my first car - boom! Suddenly Mc Donald's was in easy reach, I could go to pubs because I was over 18 and I had no one to tell me what to do. I ballooned.
I specifically remember the day when I had my ah ha moment. My girlfriend of four whole weeks broke up with me and I had a long hard look at myself. I was 19, over weight, not working and not many prospects. I realised that I could keep going like this or change. So change I did.
My first action was to go back to my family company to work and get some stability and less time to party. Then I started running, martial arts and my Christmas challenge - this is the bit to keep attention too.
I can thank my mate Paul for introducing me to my annual Christmas challenge. It took the form of an ocean swim race called the Pier to Pub which is held in the beautiful Lorne on the Great Ocean Road each year. The reason this race has special qualities for me, is that it is held one week after New Years Eve. Right in the middle of the party season! Its also a beautiful beach location and finishing at the pub is a massive benefit for blokes like me. And that's tip number one, do something in an environment you will enjoy.
Tip 1) Do an activity in an environment you will enjoy
That said the massive drawcard for me to sign up each year is that I get a day or two at the beach. Plus after the race everyone goes to the pub for a few celebratory beers and tells our swim stories. The trade off for all the training and the swim itself is that I get to hang out with mates drinking beer - sounds pretty good to me!
Tip 2) Make it something that scares you a bit
I think it's important to do an event that makes you feel a bit panicked over. That scares you just a bit so if you don't feel like training one day, you can think of that fear and it motivates you.
At the time I did my first race, didn't really enjoy swimming. I had never completed an ocean race or even really swam that far before. It was all new and pretty scary. I can tell you I trained hard! The race is 1.2 kilometres or about a mile long, so not ridiculously hard, but that's the point. It's accessible to most people, but still challenging with the sharks, cold and waves. Not to mention the other 5,000 people trying to swim over you to the shore (and beer).
After awhile the race isn't scary and the beautiful location becomes normal, so how to keep it going? I have just finished my 16th race over 22 years and there is one thing that keeps me coming back. Competition.
Tip 3) Get your mates to compete for honour
Every year when the event opens, I talk to my mates and we revive the old competition. Whose going to come out on top this year, no one wants to come last. We re-tell the stories of years past when someone piped someone at the post (I'm talking about you King!), and we get energised to do it all again.
Having these mates motivate me each year is the reason I do it. It's fun and every year after I have gone through this whole process, I remember how much I enjoy the day. I have kept fit over the summer, achieved another milestone in my amateur sporting career and had an awesome day.
There you have it, my three tips to keep you motivated in your training over the holiday period. Hopefully this will inspire one or two of you to take your own summer challenge. Something that gives you that little extra motivation to keep exercising and in shape. I tell you as I get older this becomes more important!
I'm grateful to my friends that keep me going each year. I still remember when I roped Bardy (the guy on the left) into his first race. He had never swam that far either. Now he has competed 11 races in 12 years. He keeps me going and we train once a week all year to prepare. That's motivation! What events can you think of to motivate you and your mates?
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