Warning: the holidays can be hazardous to your health.

Every holiday card, store entrance, and advertisement should be required to carry the warning. The obvious is for overindulging in the season’s trappings – food, drink, parties, and to-do lists. But the real hazard is when the season’s overindulgence is mixed with its under-indulgence – exercise.

The malls are packed, parking lots are impassible much less accommodating, holiday parties and other seasonal events cause the traffic to be different, the kids are restless with break approaching, and we are restless with unfinished shopping or upcoming travel…

Life is moving at warp speed and people are everywhere! – but the gym.

You are not alone if your exercise routine seems to have fallen into the hands of some maniacal meanie whose sole intent is to mess up the good thing you had going until the clock struck midnight on October 31 signaling the start of ‘the season.’

Irregular attendance makes the gym seem foreign when you are there, not to mention you might wonder if it IS your gym since adjusted schedules mean a different crowd than usual – it’s so annoying when someone is on your machine that the regulars know is your machine!

As for overindulgence – well, it’s silly and unrealistic to pretend abstinence, but moderation isn’t a bad thing. And for under-indulgence, try the following to beat-back the seasonal hazards to exercise and create better balance between the over and the under:

—Try a new group fitness class – or the same class at a different time with a different instructor
—Add new songs to your Ipod
—Sign up for an organized event that occurs soon after January 1 – but of a kind/distance that you don’t need more than approximately 4 weeks to prepare for. If the longest you can run today is 5 miles it’s unrealistic to build to a full marathon in 4 weeks, but spot on to find a 10K event. Create a training plan that begins today.
—Use the ‘Anytime-Anywhere-Anyhow’ approach to daily activity. If a holiday party is scheduled the same time as your usual fitness class and you can’t attend another, walk at lunch, or while your child is at their sport practice. Keep suitable walking shoes readily available, whether to use at work or in-between errands, etc.
—Establish a FitBASE workout award for yourself redeemable after January 1, e.g., you get to buy new sportswear if you complete 4 FitBASE workouts a week between now and January 1.
—Complete one new FitBEST event trial each week until January 1.
—Take advantage of extended hours and shop after going to the gym

I know, easy to say, blah, blah, blah. But, ‘the season’ doesn’t have to be at the mercy of overindulgence. The more you sustain your exercise routine the more you will enjoy all it’s sights, sounds, smells and tastes; and be the bigger person in the parking lot able to calmly extend peace, joy, and good will to fellow man as you scramble for the last open spot…

Need something more concrete – hang your swimsuit where you can’t ignore it.