6 Smart Ways to Stay on Track This Season

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and the couch is looking a whole lot comfier. This time of year, attendance at the gym drops and our desires to exercise and eat right fall lower on our priority list. Between back to school, tailgating, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, the year-end frenzy at work, Christmas, New Year's and everything in between, it's no wonder we need to "restart" again on January 1.
As fall morphs into the busy holiday season, let's choose to make this year different. Let's commit ourselves to just one simple goal to stay on track. You might not be able to do everything perfectly between Halloween and New Year's Eve, but you can do something.
SparkPeople has a lot of fun, simple and effective challenges that are the perfect pick-me-up for your program. I would recommend choosing ONE program listed below to focus your efforts. These are all great ways to re-commit this fall and hit the ground running this holiday season!
Train for Your Local "Turkey Trot" for Thanksgiving Day
Signing up for a race is a great way to stay motivated with your workouts. Many cities offer Thanksgiving Day races that are a variety of distances, but most are in the 5K-10K (3.1- to 6.2-mile) range. Whether you're a walker, runner, or a combination of the two, you're likely to find one near you. Want to train? Now is the perfect time to start: You can train for a 5K in as little as 5 weeks! SparkPeople's fun 5K Your Way program has options for all fitness levels (running and walking), and we offer 10K training plans, too. If you can't find a race near you, create your own virtual race at SparkPeople for free. Just sign up, train, run your own route (encourage your family to join you!), and post your time on Thanksgiving Day.
Commit to 30 Days of 'Fit Food'
If your diet needs more attention than your workouts, check out SparkPeople's 30-Day Fit Food Challenge. The whole point of this challenge is to stick to a healthy diet all day long for a whole month. We offer tons of great breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas via weekly meal plans delivered to your inbox, plus you'll get mini nutritional challenges throughout the month to complete. It's all about healthy portion sizes and eating more of the foods that are great for you!

Burn It to Earn It
Members who own a Spark Activity Tracker are eligible for special challenges (and prizes) every month—it's one of the many perks of buying and using the Spark. November's challenge, dubbed NovemBURN, will keep you moving and grooving all month long so you can earn that Thanksgiving meal! Everyone who burns 10,000 calories (according to the Spark) in the month will earn a virtual trophy and be entered into a prize drawing for a $100 gift card to Zappos.com! (See contest terms.) Fun challenges like this happen every month and are open to everyone who has a Spark Activity Tracker. It's not too late to join in the fun for November: Order your Spark Activity Tracker today for a little extra motivation to stay active this season (and beyond).

Slip into Your Skinny Jeans
My Skinny Jeans Fitness Challenge will whip your butt (and legs and abs) into shape in just 30 days—without using any equipment other than your own body! If you love following a structured fitness program and want to give a little extra attention to the zone from your belly to your toes, then this workout challenge is for you! In addition to daily workout challenges delivered to your inbox, you'll also get some simple tips to keep your diet on track for optimal results.
Get 'Fit2Feast' by Thanksgiving!
We want to help you stick to your fitness routine, so from November 1 to Thanksgiving Day, we're running a social challenge called #Fit2Feast. The idea is simple: Take part in intentional exercise (a planned workout that is outside of your daily routine of, say, housework or yard work) for at least 10 minutes every day until Thanksgiving. Get all the details here!
Create Your Own Challenge
Do your current goals fall outside of the fitness and nutrition ideas listed here? Don't fret! Consider one of our many other challenges—or set your goal. The brand-new SparkPeople Start page lets you set and track up to six custom goals each day. (How fun is that!) Or maybe you start your own daily streak by setting a simple goal and seeing how many days in a row you can achieve it. Some ideas might be: eating within your recommended calorie range, drinking your 8+ cups of water, just saying no to soda, or stretching every day. When you set a goal, post about it publicly on your SparkPage, blog or even on Facebook. Then ask your friends to help hold you accountable, and check in every so often to let people know how you are doing. Even if you feel like you're the only one working toward something, you'll be surprised how many people will be willing to cheer you on!
Which of these new challenges sparks your motivation? How do you keep your healthy habits in check during the busy holiday season?