snowmanMy personal training appointment book always has a few gaps in it this time of year.

No matter how many encouraging texts and messages I send to some of my clients, a few go missing during the span between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Over the years,  I’ve grown to view this extra “off” time as a gift that allows me to set the groundwork for a great new year. And I know those clients will be back full-throttle after January.

But it still makes me feel kinda bad for those clients whom I know will be frustrated come January when they feel as if they are starting over.

The holiday season has a few strikes against it when it comes to sticking with any kind of routine: it gets busy; we tend to eat more treats; there are parties to throw and attend; there is shopping to do; and, emotionally, this time of year can be stressful for some people.

Also, importantly, I think sometimes people believe they blow it so bad on Thanksgiving with the stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie that they feel like they failed on the diet front and they decide: “I’m just going to start over again after the New Year.”

Please don’t do that to yourself. Even if you don’t come to the gym, you’ll feel so much better if you keep moving. Here are some tips to keep that happening:

Be reasonable. Maybe you won’t be able to work out as often as you normally do. Three times a week is better than no times a week. Scale back a little. It’s OK. Something is always better than nothing.

Make it convenient. You don’t have to go to the gym to get a workout. There are numerous videos available online via on your satellite and cable services. If you want an actual DVD, they still make those, too! Or go for a walk outside, hop on the treadmill or elliptical in the basement, or go old-school with the calisthenics.

Do a few mini workouts. If you don’t have a half-hour or 45 minutes to devote to exercising, break up the movement over the course of the day. Set a timer and do lunges/squats/pushups/crunches for 10 minutes. Walk around the office for 10 minutes. Pick up the pace while walking the dog for 10 minutes.

Get up earlier. At my gym, some of the most consistent exercisers get their workouts in during the morning. It’s rare that they miss a day. They get their fitness fix in before their schedules go awry and mess up their plans.

Switch it up. Try something new! You don’t have to do do the same-old, same-old. Go ice skating. Stressed? Try yoga. Maybe take a visiting friend or relative to the gym with you (or go with them, if you’re the traveler). Try a class you’ve never tried before. As I mentioned above, generally speaking, gym attendance is down this month so if you’re shy, now’s the time to check it out!

Schedule the workouts. I’ve had a more than a couple clients tell me they wouldn’t work out if they didn’t have an appointment with me. Make a non-negotiable appointment with yourself!

Change your mindset. Sometimes we can look at exercise as a punishment. If you think you need to hit the gym because you’re afraid those sugar cookies you ate are going to land on your middle, that’s not a positive motivator. Instead, think about the benefits of exercise (beyond stemming the tide of any dietary damage you believe you have incurred): energy, better sleep, better health, more vitality and reducing stress. It’s not only about making what’s in the mirror fit some random standard, it’s about feeling and moving better.

Be easy on yourself, but not too easy. This is a tactic I use when I’m busy or tired. I tend to set high standards for my workouts. It’s hard to get psyched up for them when I’m feeling distracted or stressed. I give myself permission to do a little less. Sometimes I end up feeling better during the middle of the workout and crush it at the end. Other times, I cruise through. But I always feel a little more accomplished afterward.

Drink more water. It’ll keep you hydrated (key if you’re enjoying more wine than normal) and less apt to dip into the chip bowl.

Keep moving and enjoy the season. In January, you’ll be ahead of the game.