It is that time of the year again. Food and booze abound. Most people have a love/hate relationship with the holidays, because while this time of the year is a whole lot of fun, you might also start the new year with having to squeeze into the pair of jeans you had just gifted yourself with. Here are so practical tips from the fitness pros for staying fit throughout the holidays:
Fitness essentially comes down to careful organization of calories in versus calories out and following the necessary nutritional guidelines humans need for optimal functioning. In layman’s terms, we need to eat and move healthily. But we also need to tackle our daily lives. So, during the holidays, when time seems to speed up and bad options are everywhere in sight – eggnog, anyone?- your fitness goals need to be slightly more pronounced.
Know what you are doing and when. Plan you meals ahead of time for when you are on the road or busy and need something decent to eat. On the same token, if you are having a big meal at the end of the day, try rearranging or “staggering” your calories throughout the remainder of the day so you have some “in the bank” so to speak.
Make workouts a special time for yourself during the holidays. Pencil in that “me” time and do not abandon it. Not even for taking the kids to go sit on Santa’s lap. In fact, if you know a get-together is coming up, why not get in a workout before that? That way, you can eat to replenish your body without having to worry about burning off those cookies in the morning.
2. Do stuff
Ever notice throughout the holidays that people tend to get lazy? We are so busy getting stressed out over making family plans, wrapping presents, and attending events that when all is said and done, we have not actually done much of anything… not actively anyway.
You will feel better if you put all that nervousness and anxiousness to good use. Have a snow day? Do not only shovel snow. Play in it. Have a house to decorate? Put on some music and dance around while you get festive.
Furthermore, get groups together. Go for walks at night to see Christmas lights. Take tours around farms. Pick apples and pumpkins. Make snowmen or igloos. Do not just sit and watch 24 hours of The Christmas Story.
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People can come up with some pretty intense workouts when they are bored or have little tools to use. For example, if you are stuck in a hotel room throughout the holidays, deadlift the hotel mattress, do wall-sits, or run up and down the emergency exit stairs a few times.
If a bunch of snow dumps on your doorstep, have a race with a friend to see who can shovel faster. See how many stacked presents you can stack up and hold while in a squat position. My favorite playing dodgeball with wads of wrapping paper.
The point is, working out during the holidays does not always have to be hitting the gym, which will be busy anyway. You can get a decent, intense workout just by doing what you would usually be doing and have fun while you are at it.
4. Be smart
This does not solely mean making smart decisions when eating out at a restaurant or drinking responsibly. Although it is always good to remind yourself of that during the holidays. What I mean is that you can’t forget everything about fitness because of the holiday season. Always be aware of the following:
- Skipping meals is a no-no, because you will be sure to binge later;
- Everything in moderation, especially alcohol;
- Eat before going to parties so you do not make bad decisions;
- Be mindful of what you are eating (savor every bite);
- Stay hydrated with water;
- Get up and move.
5. Prioritize strength training
Since you are going to moving around a lot, you will be working the cardio end well enough. However, with access to proper weights or skimping on your strength training regimen, you might not see much growth over the holidays (if that is your goal). In fact, you might lose some muscle mass.
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The bonus about strength training is that, unlike cardio workouts, the caloric burn is more lasting throughout the day, because all that muscle needs to rebuild. Meanwhile, cardio burns a lot of calories while you are doing it. So by incorporating some extra strengthening exercises into your routine, you will be fighting fat formation and shedding more calories throughout the day.
All in all, have fun during the holidays. The most important part is not getting too stressed out about staying fit. Enjoy every special moment – smartly, mindfully, and actively.