Kathleen Hermann talks about ways for families to engage in fun fitness activities during the holiday season.
We all have holiday traditions, from Aunt Linda’s green bean casserole to fireside carols to the annual donning of the matching sweaters.
However, a lot of our traditions around the holidays focus on heavy, fat-laden foods. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Traditions are important, and the holidays are a good time to indulge as long as we do not indulge to excess.
Still, it is a good time to assess whether your family has any healthy holiday traditions, namely involving physical activity. If not, then why not consider starting one?
Growing up, we watched my father every Thanksgiving morning amble through a Turkey Trot 5k. A former college basketball star measuring 6’8″ in height, he was by no means a runner and it was often humorous to watch him lurching down the final stretch. Nevertheless, he loved how running that race (which was, in fact, the only race he ever ran each year) made him feel on Thanksgiving Day.
As soon as we were old enough, us kids joined him, engaging in a friendly competiton with eachother for place and time. There was something special about knowing no matter the weather — and we had our share of unseasonably warm days as well as days with a foot of snow — we knew where we would be Thanksgiving morning. After an endorphin high of running a race like a Turkey Trot in a huge crowd of like-minded runners, the rest of the day was gravy (pun intended).
There are, in fact, many different ideas for holiday traditions involving fitness, with new opportunities forming each year. It’s not important what you do as long as you do your best to mix the holiday, family and friends (or even pets) with fitness. Here are some ideas for healthy traditions you may not yet have tried:
1. Run a Holiday Race
Did you know that the first “Turkey Trot” was started in Buffalo during Thanksgiving of 1896? Back then it had only six runners, but today that same Buffalo race regularly has over 10,000 participants. Now there are Turkey Trots and Jingle Runs all over the country, of differing lengths and terrains. The feeling of having accomplished something will make the food taste that much better.
2. Backyard Touch Football
This is a fun, special tradition that many families have already incorporated into their holidays for generations. Instead of sitting on the couch in a food-induced coma, head out for your own friendly-family or neighborhood competition. Children especially will cherish watching adults take part in a fun family game with them.
3. Take a Holiday Walk
There’s no sweeter image to me on holidays than when I see entire generations of a family out walking down the road in a big pack. The sight of an elderly grandmother pushing a stroller, uncles and aunts engaging in jesting banter, and mixed-age children running ahead just seems to be one of the best ways to unite as a family. Even if it is only you and your dog celebrating this year, take a special walk -perhaps on a nature trail- and enjoy the time to reflect on the holiday and giving thanks.
4. Engage in a Seasonal Activity The holidays are a great time to let your inner child run free. Whether there are young ones with you or not, there’s no reason you can’t go tobogganing, ice skating, or build a large snowman. If you live in a warmer climate, look for indoor ice rinks that offer open skating for the public. All of these activities will have you sweating off enough calories for that pumpkin pie you ate.
Holiday traditions don’t have to be focused only on sugar cookies and stuffing. Embrace a tradition involving physical activity and your holiday will combat stress, lift your mood, and make the time richer and brighter. More importantly, you may not end the holiday season five pounds heavier and feeling like a sloth. It is never too late to start a new tradition!
Does your family have a healthy holiday tradition or story?
Too hot to run outdoors? Mark Levine, Personal Trainer from Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn, IL, takes over the blog to share some ways to turn an indoor run on the treadmill into an exciting workout.
Does this sound familiar?
You wake up early, excited for your morning run. You put on your running gear and shoes, grab your water bottle, and step outside.
And it feels like someone hit you in the face with a shovel and you can barely breathe.
Welcome to summer!
You immediately head back inside, grab your car keys, and head to the gym for an air-conditioned run on the functional, but often boring, treadmill.
Running on the treadmill, or “dreadmill,” doesn’t have to be an exercise in frustration.
All you need to do is play around with the speed and incline. Running or walking on a treadmill set with a 2% incline is equivalent to running on the street, and running without any incline makes you feel as if you’re running slightly downhill.
So, don’t be afraid to increase the incline significantly.
Here is a sample workout that will turn the dreadmill into a fun run. Feel free to adjust the intensity of this workout based on your capabilities and fitness level.
Time (In Minutes)
3.0-3.5 (Cool down)
This is only a 25-minute run, during which you’re warming up for five minutes, and cooling down for two minutes.
However, given the speed and incline adjustments, it’s a fantastic workout that will leave you feeling great once completed.
Member Blogger Kathleen Bush sits down with Certified Running Coach and Cycling Instructor Extraordinaire Missy Witte to talk about her new running program, yoga, and how she stays motivated to set and reach her fitness goals.
Randy Pausch, motivational speaker and author of “The Last Lecture,” once said, “You have to decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore.”
This quote, a favorite of Midtown Cycling Instructor and Running Coach Missy Witte, an obvious “Tigger,” has served as both her mantra and approach to life.
If Missy’s energy came in a bottle, everyone would want to drink it. As a role model for a healthy lifestyle for both her clients and her three active, young children, Missy’s genuine desire to help others achieve their fitness goals is obvious by both her work and positive demeanor.
Although perhaps best known for her invigorating cycle interval workouts, cycling is not Missy’s first workout of choice.
“Running is my true love,” she explains. “I have a good base, a good background. I have run eleven marathons to date. I’m definitely looking for more.” Missy is so passionate about running that she obtained her running coach certification. Her new running program launches this week.
Training New Runners and Seasoned Race Veterans
Missy’s putting her Certified Running Coach credentials to work in getting the club’s running program off the ground.
“There are three ways to work with me. For private or group training, you’ll run with me and/or a group of other Midtown runners of similar ability. You’ll also have one hour per week of endurance and/or strength training with me, in addition to training tips or support.”
Members who have enrolled in the running program communicate with Missy at least three times a week, and on Sunday, each person receives a personalized training plan for the upcoming week.
There is also coach-only training, with all the benefits of the private or group options, minus the hour-long training sessions.
The program is for runners at all levels, and for those who want to begin running. “Anyone can do this,” Missy explains. “It is a very open, friendly program.Whether you just want to be able to run a mile, or run your first race, or you are a veteran chasing a PR – this program can help you.”
This is Not Your Cookie-Cutter Program
“I’ve had a ton of success with one-on-one tailored programs,” Missy says. “The new running program I’ve created is not a cookie-cutter program you could find on the Internet. Following one of these doesn’t make sense. It’s like ripping a fad diet out of a magazine. It won’t work.”
Pointing out the benefits of training with a coach, she says, “I get feedback from my runners about their bodies and progress and I adapt it to meet their needs. It is very much about what works for you, and not what your friend is doing.”
Best of all? Accountability. “If I’m not hearing from you, you’re hearing from me,” says Missy.
Missy has always set goals and worked to achieve them. “I do a ton of visualizing,” she explains. “As I approach 40, I don’t want to give up doing what I love.” To those trying to stick with a fitness commitment, she offers this piece of advice: “The hardest part is making the decision to just go. Then the rest takes care of itself.”
How a Runner Became a Yogi
To help rehab a potentially debilitating muscle tear, Missy turned to yoga. “If you can find time to do one extra thing, make it yoga,” she says. “Before I started yoga, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s not for me. I need adrenaline. I need to sweat.’ But trust me, you will sweat. What a workout. I haven’t had to go back to the weight room since.” Her orthopedic doctor, also a marathon runner, was blown away by Missy’s increased flexibility and her rehabilitation after she began practicing yoga. She acknowledges, “If I can extend my running into my 70s, this is how I will be able to do it.”
What’s In Missy’s Kitchen?
Missy is quick to share her top foods. “Greek yogurt. My kids like it too – they say ‘Mom, this tastes like ice cream!’ Also I love Kashi cereal. I mix it in yogurt for texture.”
She also adds that she has a stash of dark chocolate hidden away, and a supply of fresh strawberries and blueberries are always in her fridge. She and her family also eat a lot of chicken for protein.
Some might be surprised to learn that Missy had a lucrative pharmaceutical sales job, which she left after the birth of her first son in order to obtain her certifications and pursue a fitness career. “I moved toward something that I really, really loved.”
And she never looked back.
For more information on Missy’s running program, which can help you start running, train for your first race, or PR your 50th, contact her at email@example.com or 461-2300, ext. 324.