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This holiday season, take the six-week challenge to stay healthy

Unbelievably, the calendar for 2020 has almost reached the holiday season.

This time of year is wonderful with beautiful decorations, incredible food and, of course, extra time with our families. But this time of year also holds a sense of dread for many people, as they know they may lose sight of their healthy eating and fitness habits.

The days are shorter and the weather is colder, and typically we get a little lazier. We get tied up with holiday commitments, company and all that. What can we do to stick with our plan of staying active and not completely blowing it and gaining 10 pounds?

At the YMCA, we recently did our very first six-week virtual challenge. We called it the Spirit, Mind and Body Challenge. We had to complete tasks related to fitness and non-fitness, such as doing 300 pushups or volunteering in the community, and lots more.

The challenge really helped me to do things I wouldn’t normally do in a week, such as yoga or reading a book. That got me thinking! I am motivated to try something like that again for the 2020 holidays.

Personally, I propose to start the Monday of Thanksgiving week and do a six-week activity challenge that will carry me to the end of the year. The idea is to do something active six out of seven days each week, with one day off a week.

The internet is an endless source of ideas for any type of six-week challenges you could dream up. Or make up your own. It really depends on your goals. 

While I am very active already, I will be enjoying some traveling and time off at the end of the year, and my goal is to keep moving and stay strong.

But your goal may be diet-related, such as no sugar or fewer carbs. Or you may just want to break 10,000 steps a day, every single day for 6 weeks, or drink 100 ounces of water daily, or even make your bed daily for six weeks.

Your calendar of goals can be easy or multi-leveled. I suggest you don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting too much or trying to do too much.

I also suggest you make an actual printed calendar and type or write down the goals for each day, then cross off each day when you complete them. That way you have a daily visual to remind you.

If your focus is activity, you can make each week a different focus, such as strength, flexibility or cardio (or all three in one week, each week). If it is not, it can be closet cleaning one week, healthy eating one week, meditation the next.

You decide on a challenge to complete that would help you reach your goals for the 2020 holiday season.

Each day, you can commit a certain amount of time, like 15 minutes or 45 minutes, or whatever it will take to boost your goals to the next level.

Having a distinct deadline of the last week of the year to complete will help push you through to success.

If you challenge a friend to do it with you, then you are accountable to someone besides yourself. That is a huge motivator.

You will never regret checking exercise off your list each day, but you may have regrets if you just lose all motivation and backslide to the end of this crazy year.

Your very own six-week challenge will be the positive jump start you will need to hit 2021 head on with happy thoughts and confidence in a better new year!

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer. She is fitness director for the YMCA of Calhoun county. Her “Fitness over 50” column appears the third weekend of each month.