Many people find the holidays stressful. The days are chock-o-block with social gatherings, shopping, travel, and family. All of these things are wonderful, but admittedly we can all get a little worn down over the next few months. But I’ve found a great, natural stress reliever, and I am going to share it with you—EXERCISE.

I know, I know. I’ve thought the same exact thing. Exercise is just for those people who have tons of extra time or are only focused on looking better. But I’ve discovered that exercise is also a great outlet that provides natural stress relief. I’m no gym rat, but this year I’m starting my New Year Resolution early. That’s right. I’m making a Newvember Resolution to get happier and healthier this holiday season. Not only does exercise relieve stress, but it also helps you set and attain goals, makes life easier (no need to struggle to carry those packages or move those boxes), and makes you feel better, happier, and more confident. Who could say no to that?

But why during the holidays? Why at the most decadent and delicious time of the year am I setting such a goal? Simple, experts say it takes 3-4 weeks to create a new habit and 6 weeks to begin seeing the results of an exercise regimen. That means that if I start this lifestyle change in November, by the time the New Year rolls around and everyone else is just kicking off their healthy-living resolutions, I’ll already have healthy habits in place. I’ll have a jump start on the New Year!

However, starting an exercise habit in the height of the holidays can be challenging. Everywhere you look there’s delicious snacks and cookies, fantastic dinner parties, and a multitude of opportunities to over-indulge. Because of these contributing factors and what is typically a busier than normal social schedule, Americans gain on average between 1 and 10 pounds between November and New Year’s. So what’s my plan for sticking to my Newvember Resolution?

       ·      I’m going to put together an exercise plan. At the beginning of each week, I’m going to set aside time to exercise and focus on my health-oriented goals.

       ·      Break my time into short sessions and anticipate unexpected interruptions. By only setting aside short segments of time, instead of committing to extended exercise sessions, I will more easily fit them into my busy holiday schedule. Plus, I will make allowances for the occasional time when I won’t be able to follow through due to an unforeseen event.

       ·      Believe in myself. Believing in your ability to achieve a goal actually increases the likelihood that you will be successful.

       ·      Be realistic. I know that at the end of the holidays I will not suddenly be a bodybuilder or fitness expert. The trick to starting a Newvember Resolution is to be realistic with the goals I set. I just hope to be happy and healthy come the New Year.

So feel free to hop on the bandwagon (or elliptical) with me! And here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season!