A woman carrying a gym bag walks toward a flight of stairs with a sunset in the distance

Exercise Is Not a Punishment

We all think of the holidays as a time to maybe splurge a little on the better things in life. We buy presents, make trips to see loved ones, and buy foods we don’t normally eat. I would say a strong majority of us do it, and then spend the next month or two after feeling guilty for what we did. Heck, we probably feel guilty as we are doing it, but in the moment, can easily justify it. When it comes to diabetes, this not only can cause our blood sugar and A1c to raise, but we are also more prone to weight gain from overeating or eating too many carbs. Don’t punish yourself for doing this.

Holidays and the exercise promise

We all think of the holidays as a time to eat foods we normally wouldn’t for a longer timeframe. Of course, on birthdays, random holidays, and family functions we may eat a little more than usual, but the typical November and December holiday timeframe is a time for excessive eating for many people. We see this as an excuse and always say come the new year, we will get back on track and all will be fine. I generally agree it will be fine, but what do many people do on new year’s, they get a gym membership or say they will exercise consistently to work off the holiday pounds.

Why exercise punishment doesn't work

Exercise is not a punishment for any holiday. Do not join a gym or work out because you feel you need to essentially punish yourself. You should exercise because it helps keep you healthy and makes you feel better. I have a theory on why gym memberships spike in January and those same people stop going by March. People treat the gym and exercise as a punishment. By the middle to the end of March, you forget how you were on the holidays and went back to your normal eating routine. You feel like you have done enough to get rid of the holiday pounds. The weight starts to slowly fall off and so does your motivation. You have basically punished yourself and now that you have served your time, you feel like you can stop. This places a negative image on exercising and makes it harder to keep it going or startup for the right reasons.

A healthy exercise mindset with type 2 diabetes

Exercise is meant to keep you healthy. You need to be healthy every day of the year. There is no “I’ll start being healthy when I don’t have to worry about big meals and lots of desserts.” Yes, you can have some extra food during the holiday if you wish. Be smart about it and make sure you don’t overdo it. If you were exercising the whole year, you can get away with a little extra.

However, something funny you may not know, but when you exercise all year and do it regularly, you are less likely to go crazy during the holidays because you know what progress you have made and don’t want to ruin it. This helps turn exercise from being a punishment into a reward for discipline and a good diet.

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