The Simple Fitness Habit Holiday Challenge

By Leo Babauta

Welcome to the Simple Fitness Habit Holiday Challenge!

What’s this challenge all about? Well, it’s a way to keep off the weight gain that typically comes from holiday overeating. We’ll make a commitment, and report daily to keep accountable for our commitment.

Let’s stay healthy and get even fitter during the holidays!

How will we do this?

Basically, you’ll set your own eating and exercise challenges, but we’ll give you a few suggestions.

Then you’ll make a big public commitment to sticking to those challenges, and check in daily or as often as you’re able, to stay accountable.

Choose an Eating Challenge

First, let’s choose an eating challenge that’s appropriate for you. Basically, you want to find something you can do 6 out of 7 days a week (and don’t go crazy on your Fun Day).

Some ideas:

  • No White Foods: Avoid eating white flour, sugar, white rice, white potatoes. What to eat instead? Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, sweet potatoes, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, lean proteins, with a focus on lots of fruits and veggies.
  • The Mindful Diet: When you eat, try to do nothing but eat (no reading, phones, TV, computers). If you’re doing social eating, talking is fine, but pay special attention to your fullness level and urges to eat more. Pause and breathe between bites. Stop before you full, and wait a few minutes before taking another bite. You can eat any foods but eat unhealthy foods slowly and in moderation, and try to choose healthier foods (like the recommended ones in the No White Foods diet above).
  • Vegan diet: Don’t eat meat, poultry, seafood, dairy or eggs. Try for beans, tofu, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds. Lots of recipes on 7-Day Vegan.

So choose one of those challenges (or make one of your own or find another that you like), and do it for 6 out of 7 days a week. One Fun Day, but try to do everything in moderation on Fun Day.

If you can stick to this challenge, you’ll do great this holiday season.

Choose an Exercise Challenge

If you do overeat during holiday parties, exercise is a must for keeping the extra pounds off and staying healthy. Not just because it burns some of the excess calories, but it cancels out a lot of the bad effects of overeating. And if you stick to one of the challenges above, exercise will help you get leaner.

What exercise challenge you choose depends on your level, but here are some recommendations:

  • Run or walk or bike or swim every day. You can do a random mix of all four, or just choose one or two. Take a break one day a week.
  • Do a pushup challenge. Follow the plan at 100pushups.com — you don’t have to try to get to 100 pushups, but just commit to sticking to the plan during the holidays at whatever level you can do. It’s 3 days a week, 5 sets of pushups on each of those days, which will take about 10 minutes per session. That’s not incredibly hard. Because it’s only 3 days a week, do some walking or running or bodyweight squats on 2-3 other days every week.

You can also make up your own exercise challenge, of course.

Make a Big Public Commitment

Whatever eating and exercise challenges you choose, take one day off the eating challenge, and have at least one day of rest from the exercise.

Now write down your challenges, and make a commitment to yourself to stick to them. Not a half-assed one, where you don’t really think you’re going to do it. Make a full promise, and believe your promise to yourself.

And finally, make a big public commitment. That means posting on Facebook or Twitter, emailing people, posting on your blog, or just telling everyone you know about your challenge. Promise to report to them weekly. Ask them to check up on you often.

Being committed will help you stick to the challenge. Be all in.

Stay Accountable

There are lots of ways to stay accountable to your commitment, but we suggest the Simple Fitness Habit forum.

Why? Because if you post daily to Facebook or Twitter, your friends/followers might get tired of the daily updates. But we have an accountability forum specifically set up for these daily reports.

Just reply to the daily thread each day. Say how you did, even if you missed a day. If you miss, promise to get back on track asap. Encourage others. Talk about what you’ve been doing, and help others with what they’re doing, if you have the time.

Sticking to this challenge won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Let’s do this.

Post your challenge on the forum here.