25 Days of Wellness

  1. Try a new group exercise class
  2. Treat a friend to a UVAC guest pass
  3. Purchase and wear a holiday swim cap
  4. Be an early bird and get a sunrise workout in
  5. Explore a new trail
  6. Learn to use an unfamiliar piece of gym equipment
  7. Cook a delicious, healthy new recipe for friends
  8. Get fitted for a new pair of running shoes
  9. Be a night owl and work out until the clock hits “Closed”
  10. Discover a new wellness blog to follow
  11. Try a session with a personal trainer
  12. Gather friends for a pickup football game
  13. Rock a festive sparkly headband to the gym
  14. Achieve “weekend warrior” status with back-to-back Saturday and Sunday workouts
  15. Research a new winter sport to try
  16. Get a wellness screening
  17. Host a fitness goal-setting party for friends
  18. Register for a 2017 road race
  19. Try fitting in a lunch break workout
  20. Build a holiday workout playlist
  21. Sign up for a nutrition consult
  22. Plan for a ski weekend with friends
  23. Gift new gear to a loved one
  24. Make an ambitious training plan for January
  25. Gather friends for a fun day at UVAC’s Splash Park


As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, there’s no denying that the holiday season is here. For many of us, that means all kinds of nice things — family time, twinkle lights, sweet treats, festive tunes, and parties galore — but it can also mean busy days with fewer workouts. The holiday season is undeniably challenging for even the most dedicated fitness buff, and for the average exerciser, it can feel downright impossible. How do we fit in time at the gym in a schedule packed with holiday gatherings? How do we stick to our healthy eating habits with cookies around every corner? Although I’ve struggled with these questions for years, I think I may finally have a solution, and it’s tied to one of the best aspects of the holiday season: anticipation.


Many of the holidays we observe at this time of year are built around anticipation: the 25 days of Christmas, the seven days of Kwanzaa, the eight days of Hanukkah, the countdown to the new year. We mark the passage of time with small festivities as we grow closer and closer to the culminating celebration. In my family, one of the most important ways that we anticipate Christmas Day is the Advent calendar. We’ve had different versions over the years, but they all adhere to the same basic principle: Beginning on December 1 and continuing right up until Christmas, we open the compartment marked with that day’s number and discover a treat inside. We’ve had paper calendars that reveal illustrations of the Christmas story, magnetic calendars that provide decorations for a magnetic tree, candy calendars that gift us with chocolate, and quilted calendars that provide handmade toys. The goal of each calendar is always the same: to build anticipation as we look forward to Christmas Day.


As I reflected on the challenges of staying fit during the holiday season, my family’s tradition sprang to mind. What if, taking the Advent calendar as my inspiration, I created a “25 Days of Wellness” calendar for myself? With a new wellness “treat” to look forward to each day, would I be more motivated to stick to my healthy routines? I’ve decided it can’t hurt to try, and in the spirit of holiday giving, I’m sharing it with you! Below you’ll find my 25 wellness ideas, each intended to be fun, festive, new, or all three. My plan is to jumble them together and draw at random each morning in December. If the concept piques your interest, I’d encourage you to make your own list, borrowing from mine as much or as little as you like. Tailor it to the holidays you celebrate and the wellness style that makes sense for you. Enjoy, and may your holidays be happy and healthy!

By Caitlin Birch — UVAC member; Canaan, NH resident; Digital Collections and Oral History Archivist at Dartmouth College

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