Updated: Nov 14
Each December, I’m torn between making the drive to Helena to spend the holidays with my family or staying in Kalispell to snowboard with my friends. As a fitness enthusiast, snowboarding days definitely call to me when pitted against unhealthy family dinners.
However, the older I get, the more important spending the holidays with my family becomes. Taking the four-hour drive to return to my hometown to renew the magic of childhood Christmases has become a mission essential to nurturing my inner child (which becomes more imperative with every passing year).
This year, the 41-year-old health coach in me is determined to have it all. I refuse to choose between having a healthy holiday and the magic that nurtures my inner child, and I know I can shoot for the stars because I am creative about finding effective strategies to maintain health.
For example, to keep from overindulging at holiday parties or family dinners, I have a healthy snack before arriving so I’m not ravenous or lacking self-control. Also, I always bring a healthy dish or relish tray to ensure there are vegetables to snack on. It certainly helps to keep my hands busy if everyone else is in the cookies and fudge. When I host a dinner, I bring cookies out only after dinner instead of having them out all day.
To stick to my exercise schedule when precious time gets stretched thin, I give myself permission to ditch the all-or-nothing mindset. For example, if a week gets too busy to carve out a full hour at the gym, instead of skipping workouts all-together, I embrace a 15-20 minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout. HIIT workouts are amazing for fat-blasting and metabolism-boosting anyway!
For fostering my inner child during the holidays, I make a point to make the holidays special even on years when I can’t make it home. For example, I am a huge fan of holiday light tours as well as spending time with people who make me laugh. And it is a perfect time of year to cultivate an attitude of gratitude by expressing appreciation to those who deserve it.
The one primary strategy I use for fostering the inner child and maintaining health and fitness simultaneously is to make fitness fun. There are many other opportunities for fun fitness activities (even in Montana in the winter)! You can hit the ski slopes or sledding hill, dance in your living room, or give my 12 days of Christmas Themed HIIT workout (included below) a whirl. The HIIT workout can be done anywhere, anytime, since no equipment is needed. Additionally, many fitness studios pride themselves on fun fitness classes.
I believe in this “fitness is fun” philosophy so much that the Levitation Nation Aerial Studio I own in Kalispell was built entirely around the concept. In fact, if you are a Montana woman interested in the playtime-as-exercise experience, you can enter the Levitation Nation holiday give-away for a chance to win a free studio membership (for yourself or a friend) at: www.levitationnation.org/giveaway.
In short, I recognize that your practice for maintaining health and nurturing your inner child may not look exactly like mine. Likewise, you may struggle with entirely different obstacles. Therefore, the best suggestion I can give you is to be proactive in identifying your own hurdles and how you will overcome them when you encounter them. I believe in you. Happy Holidays.
Authored by Mindy Cochran. Mindy is a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health & wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer and life coach. Mindy is also founder of Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catch phrase “fitness is fun” is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy.