Toward the end of last year, I was feeling pretty good about my health and fitness routine. I got a new bike and happily biked everywhere. I kept a fairly consistent yoga practice. But as the weather started to get cold, I knew it would be harder to keep it up.

I especially wanted to keep active between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Because: parties! eating! drinking!) Plus, winter in the Midwest is hard and I wanted to roll into January with some momentum.

The gym was running a workout challenge, offering prizes such as a free water bottle or guest passes. I liked this idea, but I wanted better prizes. So, I made my own Holiday Workout Challenge. Set some fitness goals. Made a plan. Drew a calendar. And bought stickers.

This was the plan: I set three levels of goals. One was the totally easy, no-way-I-could-fail goal  of 1-2 workouts per week. (I really wanted this to be a positive thing so there was a prize even for this minimal accomplishment.) The next goal was a very respectable 3-4 times per week. And then I had a stretch goal of 5-6 times per week. The goal was monthly, so there was some flexibility in case I had a bad week; I could make up for it with extra workouts the following week. My prize was a gift card to a favorite local businesses. The amount of the gift card would be determined by which level I achieved.

And, friends, this plan totally worked. There were days that I absolutely would have skipped class if it wasn’t for the sticker. I wanted to meet my damn goal! And I did. I even met the stretch goal. By the end of it, I didn’t care about the gift card. It was satisfying to get a lot of exercise and stay motivated.

So, that was a year ago. I’ve kept up the calendar/sticker system all year and it’s been great.

As a Thanksgiving gift to you, I made a printable calendar that you can use for your own Holiday Workout Challenge.


There is space to write your three levels of goals and a box to write down your activity plan. I found that it’s better to have specific rules for what gets you a sticker so you’re not wondering if that extra-long walk with the dog counts. Make a list of all the activities that merit a sticker (with time or distance requirements, if applicable).

Stickers are, of course, optional. You can mark the calendar with a smiley face or a star. But it is fun to use stickers, especially if you find some that you really like.

Well, I hope you find this helpful. If you do the Holiday Workout Challenge, I’d love to hear how it goes.

Happy Thanksgiving!