(Picture Above – they don’t know it yet but these neices and nephew are gonna grow up to be pinnacles of fitness!)
Every year I find myself back in California to celebrate the holidays with my family. I look forward to this for months because it’s the only real time I get to see all my family that I’ve been missing living in NYC throughout the year. However, with all the family gatherings it’s easy to get caught up with spending all your quality time eating ridiculous amounts of fatty foods and sweets. Now, I’m not going to go into a tirade about watching your diet and eating healthy during the holidays – that would just be preposterous (I, for one, am going to stuff my face with every turkey leg and piece of ham I can find). What I am trying to suggest is rethinking the ways you can spend quality time with family and how you can get them to move more and live well. To aid in this endeavor, here are a couple ways you can enjoy your time with the family while also moving more and staying healthy (they’re ordered in level of difficulty and effort):
1) Mall Exercise 101? (difficulty: 1) – So you’re hanging out with your mom or auntie and you know they don’t like to exercise. But what if you could get them to do it without even noticing. Not a lot of people think about this, but walking around the mall can be a tiresome effort. Do a couple laps from one side of the mall to the other on floors 1, 2 and 3 and you’ll definitely get in a mile or two of walking. You might have to do some extra homework and plan the stores you’ll be visiting beforehand to make sure you’ll be visiting each corner of the mall. Some might critique the plague of consumerism that takes over during the holidays, but why not flip it and make it a good excuse to get some exercise with the parents. (Warning: Don’t get trapped into rewarding yourself after with a stop to Cinnabon or Mrs. Fields Cookies store – that would definitely result in an epic fail.)
2) Making fruit, protein or green smoothies (difficulty: 2) – You’re spending time at home setting up the Christmas tree, hanging up lights in the front yard and lighting up a log on the fireplace. What would make all these even sweeter? Answer: doing them all while drinking a nice glass of whiskey and eggnog fruit or green smoothie! Just pick up some fruits at the market, some skim milk and if you want to go green (some carrots, cucumbers, spinach or kale) and mix up a smoothie for you and the family. Save the whiskey and eggnog for Christmas Eve. Get some good nutrients in to help keep you energized and feeling good while doing some holiday party prep and chores.
3) Gym it up Gangnam Family Style (difficulty: 3) – Okay, this one requires a little more effort and if there was a way to gym it up Gangnam style then I’m all ears. The hardest part is convincing your mom or dad to go with you to the gym, but once you’re there the workout is the easiest part. This one is good if you have a sibling to tag team with. Just plan it with your brother or sister and ask your family member to join you for an early morning workout. My sister and I do this all the time when we are visiting home and if it means quality time with her son and daughter, our mom comes with us to the gym almost every time.
4) Todo Todo Line Dance (difficulty: 2-3) – So this one depends on how awesome your family is. I grew up in a Filipino household and one thing us Filipinos cannot deny during family gatherings is line dancing. What can I say it’s in our blood. So don’t think too much about it just clear the living room, garage or backyard, download some todo todo music on itunes and press play. You are guaranteed dancing, movement and laughter for at least one hour. If you’re family isn’t one for line dancing, try some other genres like reggae or salsa and see what happens. This is also a great time to work out and work on your dance moves while in the comfort of your home and family.
5) Run an Exercise Class with The Kids (difficulty: 2-4) – This last suggestion requires a little bit of planning and maybe even more patience (cause working with 5 years olds with unlimited energy is tough work). Every year I come home for the holidays and I realize that there have been one or two more additions to the extended family. It’s sad but I have so many nieces and nephews running around I have troubles remembering all their names! If you’re really motivated to give the gift of fitness, why not start while they’re young. If you are skilled in any performing arts (dancing), exercise (lifting, yoga, etc) or martial arts, try running a short class with the kids. This will help teach them that the holidays isn’t just about eating lots of food, getting presents and playing video games. They can also have fun exercises with their favorite aunt/uncle. Below is a clip of my nephew Dryston and I having a mini-boxing session – he’s gonna be a knockout
I hope these suggestions help and that you can try one or two of them out. Moving more to move the world doesn’t just mean personal wellness, but those of your friends and family too. If you’re really aiming to increase the quality of your life and health, you must focus outwardly as well as inwardly. Sharing the gift of fitness with your loved ones over the holidays is a good first step.
Let us know what you think and if you have any more creative suggestions we’d love to hear them. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below for more ideas on how to move more and move the world.