Let’s just start off with: you’re right. You do deserve a break. Well, you will, depending on whether you’ve finished your finals yet or not. You might have believed that you were all caught up, but then you found out that your physics final is graded on a curve, so now you’re freaking out… Or maybe you knew these couple weeks would suck all along. Either way, this is a particularly stressful period.
Unfortunately, you’re probably responding to that stress in a not-so-healthy way. The cycle of staying up late and struggling to get out of bed for class, let alone the gym, has a way of perpetuating itself all the way until Holiday Break. And while exercise is a great way to relieve stress and work off those study break snacks, let’s be honest: you’ve probably skipped a couple days at the gym. Which isn’t so bad, but when coupled with the fact that lack of sleep makes you eat more and the upcoming holidays, December can be tough on your fitness goals. It’s okay, you’ll pick it up again next semester, right?
That’s certainly possible, but you don’t want to a part of the New Year’s Resolution crowd that works out intermittently for a month and then are never seen at the rec center again. It can be all too easy to put off starting a fitness regimen or to let it fall by the wayside. So, while yes, you do deserve a break, you should also be prepared to start a new routine come next semester and stick to it.
What Do You Want to Improve?
The best workouts will involve your entire body, including flexibility, coordination, and strength. By practicing a variety of skills, you’ll lower your risk of injury and maximize performance. However, you can still focus on something specific that you’d like to improve. If you don’t like your arms, can’t touch your toes, or would like to lose some weight after the holidays, you should cater to your fitness goals. Just don’t neglect every other muscle group.
Write it Down!
It’s no secret anymore that writing down goals makes achieving them more likely. It might feel stupid or childish, but it really does work. Even if you’re self-conscious, you can write them down in a private place– just make sure that it’s somewhere you see frequently (a planner, a note taped in your closet, in your phone, etc.) That way, it will remind you of your goal and solidify your commitment.
Additionally, writing down your goals will force you to be specific. You might think, “I want to gain muscle,” but when you start writing it down you realize that there are a lot of specifics to consider. By when? How much? Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reach your goal in time? And, most importantly, is your goal realistic and healthy?
Account for Real Life
Realize that you’re not going to be perfect. There’s going to be friends’ birthdays, emergency assignments, and other things that you can’t control. You might miss a couple of workouts. The important thing is that you don’t let that derail you overall. You can also minimize the impact of these distractions by planning ahead.
Know the exact routine that you’re going to do at the gym so you don’t waste time in between machines.
If you have an early morning class, set out your clothes and backpack the night before, so you can minimize excuses to miss your morning workout.
Plan out your meals so that you can hold yourself accountable for your nutrition goals. No more easy hamburgers in the dining hall when you’re rushing between classes or meetings, because you planned ahead!
Encourage your friends to join you. That way, you don’t have to choose between socializing and working out!
There’s going to be obstacles blocking every goal. That’s why you haven’t completed it yet! But with some careful planning and motivation, your New Year’s resolution can become an All-Year resolution. For now, focus on your finals, enjoy the holidays, and come back next semester ready to achieve.