Staying fit and festive during the holidays has often seemed an impossible challenge. Don’t we save fitness for the new year anyways? ‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry! Holiday treats, decadent feasts, and glasses filled with cheer are everywhere you look. It’s easy to overindulge without realizing it. Before you know it, Santa has an easier time squeezing down the chimney than you do squeezing into your favorite pair of jeans. Ho-Ho-Ho-NO!
As a fitness instructor and trainer, I am a firm believer that the holidays should be enjoyed. The key is to be mindful of what you are doing. Have a plan, and put strategies in place for staying on track with your exercise and your nutrition. The good news is, if you maintain a healthy lifestyle all year long, you aren’t going to completely derail all your hard work in such a short time. Go ahead, live a little! Just don’t throw all your healthy habits out the window. Staying fit and festive during the holidays is possible! Below are some of my go-to tips for happy, healthy holidays.
It’s easy to fall into the all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to exercise. If that company holiday party is going to make you miss your evening cycle class, then you may as well chalk the day up to an exercise fail, right? Wrong! If you know you are going to miss your regular class, have a backup plan. Go for a 30-minute walk around your office parking lot. Walk up and down the stairs in your building. Do some squats while brushing your teeth. Aim for 30 minutes of movement per day.
Remember, something is ALWAYS better than nothing. If ten minutes is all you’ve got, do a quick HIIT workout. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It offers a lot of bang for your buck! Don’t let the fact that you missed class or that you don’t have a full hour to spend in the gym become your excuse for not moving your body.
Okay, I get it. It can be challenging (and sometimes downright rude) to sneak away to the closest gym when you are staying with family and friends. Again, a little planning goes a long way. Pack your walking or running shoes and hit the road. Invite the family to join you.
Cold and snowy? Stay inside, and use a set of resistance mini-bands. These light, portable, packable items can be tossed in your purse and whipped out in the smallest of spaces. Inexpensive and easy to use, they come in varying levels of resistance to provide an effective strength workout for the entire body. Use them anytime, anywhere.
P.S. They make great stocking stuffers for the fitness fanatics in your life!
If you know that you are going to be tempted by a holiday buffet laden with treats, make sure you fill up on some healthy snacks before you go. My favorites are a protein-packed smoothie made with almond milk, blueberries, protein powder, and a little peanut butter. A high-protein yogurt topped with fruit and low-sugar granola is another solid option. Hummus and veggies can also do the trick. The less hungry you are, the less likely you are to overindulge.
Even Superman has his Kryptonite. If you have been dreaming all year long about your grandmother’s decadent, delicious homemade fudge, then have a piece and savor every single bite. Just consider skipping the high-calorie, sugar-heavy glass of wine, and stick to sparkling water instead. If you’d rather stay home than skip the bar, then order a drink, enjoy each sip, and skip the dessert bar. It’s all about balance, so choose what you want the most, and have a small helping. Remember, we’re talking about staying fit AND festive during the holidays. Deprivation only leads to a downhill spiral.
…track of what you eat. You also lose track of how many you’ve had. Not to be a buzzkill, but the fact is that alcohol impairs your judgment whether you like it or not. That can lead to less than healthy choices in several areas, including food. Then, there’s the next day. A hangover inevitably leads to all kinds of food choices you might not normally make, like greasy burgers or a little “hair of the dog.” Finally, a night of drinking affects your sleep. When you are tired, you are more likely to hit snooze than hit your scheduled morning workout. Bottom line? Be responsible, and remember that alcohol calories are still calories. Not only do they count, but they also add up!
You should never show up to a party empty-handed! Offer to bring a veggie tray, fruit salad, or hearty grain dish. Show up with a non-alcoholic beverage or the ingredients for a fabulous mocktail. Not only will this help you stay on course throughout the event, but it may also inspire others to do the same. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.
Water, water, and more water. Sometimes when you think you are hungry, you are just dehydrated. Treat yourself to a cute water bottle. Keep it handy throughout the day, and sip on it often. Have a glass of water when you arrive at a party before hitting the bar or the buffet. Bonus? Your skin will look fabulous!
In a sugar coma from too many holiday sweets? Under the weather from raising a few too many holiday spirits? Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself grace, and remember that one slip-up is not a reason to give up. Simply get back on track as quickly as possible. Every new day is a chance to make a new decision.
As you go into the holiday season, remember that it is just that—a season. A few weeks at most. With a few mindful choices and a little daily movement, you can not only survive, but you can also thrive and step into the new year with your healthiest foot forward.