December has arrived and the holiday season is in full swing. Some people dread this time of year as the temptation of unhealthy food, alcohol, and binge eating is everywhere. We over indulge in food and skip workouts, and the thought of gaining excess weight puts a damper on celebrating with the people we love. Fortunately, you don’t have to stress about the scale or feel bad about putting on excessive weight. You can still enjoy the parties and the holiday shopping by getting creative and flexible with your workouts.
Mentally Prepare Yourself
Many of us are emotional eaters and have certain triggers that allow us to give in to our bad habits. What we don’t realize is the whole concept of calories in equals calories out no longer exists. Research has come a long way in the past 5-10 years and we are now seeing the impact of food and the role it plays in our overall health.
Most people have the mindset that eat now and work it off later. This kind of thinking always backfires. It takes minutes to consume a 1000 calories but hours to work it off. If you know that you can’t stick with your food choices or exercise routine, then put a plan in place. Find a workout buddy or a friend who can help you stay accountable. Arrange support ahead of time if you know that you just want to sit on the couch and watch movies for days on hand and eat junk food. Have someone that makes you accountable when you can’t find the strength to do it yourself.
The holiday season seems like a perfect time to forgo the workout but this is actually a time to stay active more than ever. Exercise will not only help you deal with the stress of the holidays but keep you energized for the things you need to accomplish. I like to tell my clients to forget the rules and change up the workout during the holiday season. This is a great time to take a break from your regular routine and try something different. Even though your food will impact your weight more, exercise will help also keep your weight in check. These are things that will help you keep your body moving while still burning calories when you’re short on time.
Shorten your cardio. Even if you only have 10 or 15 minutes, it’s better than no workout at all. Work at higher intensity to maximize the caloric expenditure. It can be anything from doing intervals on the treadmill to creating your own circuit routine.
Strength training. If you’re away from your gym over the holidays, you don’t require equipment to do strength training. Your body is your weight. Maintain your muscle mass by getting back to the basics and incorporate some functional type exercises (squats, lunges, etc.) so you are getting the most out of your time.
Keep active whenever you can. Use a pedometer as you run around and do your holiday shopping. It will help you keep track of how many steps you are taking. Use every opportunity to get in more activity whether it’s taking the stairs instead of the escalator, parking further away in the parking lot, or taking that extra walk around the mall. It all adds up in the long run.
Stand instead of sitting. Sitting for long periods of time can be very unhealthy for our bodies. Try to make a habit of getting up every 10-15 minutes to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing throughout your body. Regardless if you are at your desk or at a party, try to stand as much as you can.
Get the whole family involved. A great way to burn some calories is to get active with the entire family. Before the big meal, go for a walk around the block together, shovel the snow together or have some fun and have a snowman building contest. The main thing is that you are using all the muscles in your body together.
Control Your Eating
The biggest challenge for everyone is the inevitable delights available at every party. If you attend many parties over the holiday season, it can be an invitation to indulge and the weight can be packed on very quickly. Here are a few tricks to keep your weight in check:
Eat before you go. If you don’t go grocery shopping hungry, then never attend a holiday party on an empty stomach. By eating before you go, you will be less tempted to overindulge if your belly’s full of something healthy.
Choose one treat. Choose one thing that you never get to indulge in during the year. Once at the party, choose one thing to indulge in and stick with it. A good idea is to keep one hand occupied by holding a purse or even a glass of water so it makes it a little more challenging to eat food that you really don’t need.
Don’t drink your calories. If you plan on having a few drinks, then make sure you alternate between having a mixed drink or glass of wine with a glass of water. Not only will it keep you from getting too tipsy but you can save on calories and stay hydrated. Alcohol contains a lot of calories and the more you drink, the more food you will consume. They two go hand-in-hand. Plan on being the designated driver and you’ve already save yourself thousands of unwanted calories.
Don’t Skip Meals. I see so many people do this. Skipping meals so that they can indulge later. Eat plant-based meals all day long so you are not only taking in less calories, but your body is receiving all the necessary and vital nutrients. Cutting back on calories and food during the day is giving yourself permission to indulge and consume high fat and unhealthy foods which can lead to headaches, decrease in energy, and consuming a large amount of calories.
Schedule In Time to Exercise
If you schedule in time to meet up with friends, you can certainly schedule in time to exercise. The holidays are about spending quality time with family and friends and not about the number of parties you can attend. Make time in your calendar to exercise so that you feel less stressed when with family and friends. You will enjoy your time with them more and appreciate what the holidays are truly about.
Create a Home Workout Routine
No time to drive to the gym? Create your own home workout. Grab an exercise video, go for a run, or create your own circuit. Even going outside and going for a hike for a few hours will not only make you feel better mentally but help keep the calories off. Running up and down the stairs several times and incorporating some push-ups, jumping jacks, lunges, and squats, will get the job done.
Download a Fitness App
This not only keeps you accountable but it can be a lot of fun. Many apps have pre-designed workouts to help train you and keep you motivated. You can make your workout into a game where you work out against your app. Anything from yoga to military style workouts are available. You just have to find something that will keep you moving and burning calories.
Eat Clean & Live Green!
Your Compassionate Coach,