Staying Fit During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is nearly here and for many, this is a challenging time of the year. We are exposed to countless stories of holiday weight gain and just trying to recover lost ground after the New Year. Forget this model and choose a different, proactive path this year. Here are some tips to help make this holiday season one about family, friends, and the true meaning of the season.

  1. Thanksgiving Day + Christmas Day + New Year’s Day ≠ ruined fitness plan…it’s all the days between that matter! Enjoying richer foods a couple of days over the coming five weeks is not going to break the bank, just like exercising for one or two days a month won’t suddenly make you fit. Instead, think about all of the other times you may be eating differently than normal – extra holiday parties, homemade cookies and candies at work, holiday baking…so now that you’re thinking about this, it’s time to…

  1. Plan, plan, plan! Take out a calendar (seriously, this is the being proactive part!) and write down all the for-sure holiday events coming up and the meals involved (e.g., Thanksgiving: my house, Sunday after Thanksgiving: 2nd Thanksgiving with in-laws, Saturday before Christmas: work Christmas party, Christmas Day: dinner at sister’s house, New Year’s Eve: holiday party). You can do this on your regular calendar, your workout calendar, or on your food log (this is definitely a good month to keep your food and exercise logs going!).

  1. Plan to eat lighter these days! Don’t skip meals, but plan to eat lighter and definitely pass up anything rich earlier in the day. Remember, save up for the beautiful meal you’ll get to enjoy later in the day. Don’t spoil it with unnecessary extras that aren’t even that good. Your special meal will taste better if you’re actually hungry for it later! (Disclaimer: do NOT go to special occasion starving, either – you will inevitably eat without restraint!)

  1. Plan to exercise these days! Just like you wrote down your special meals for the month, write down your plans for exercise. Look to get an hour of a good, sweaty, calorie-burning workout. If working out on your own, pick movements you are comfortable with and good at, string them together back to back, and stay moving the whole time! (Disclaimer: If you honestly can’t spare the full hour, anything is better than nothing – just go hard and make it count!).

  1. Prioritize your time! You may be thinking, I have so much to do this time of year, exercise is the last thing on my mind! If at all possible (meaning it will fit in before work), get your workout done before you do anything else. A) You will feel awesome and be much more productive, B) You will be less likely to succumb to temptations if you know you already worked your butt off that day, and C) You can focus your evenings on family and friends without worrying that you didn’t get a workout done. If morning workouts are not a possibility, bring your workout gear in the car and stop before going home.

  1. Explore fun ways to get moving! If you’re looking to get your loved ones more active this time of year, try some fun winter fitness ideas: Try an open ice skating session with your kids or significant other, throw a football around in the backyard, take your dog for a walk (dogs need exercise this time of year, too!), or take the family out for a post-dinner walk instead of feeling that dreaded lethargy that often accompanies a large meal.

  1. Focus on your favorites. There are a million tempting treats this time of year, so focus on the ones you love. Maybe it’s someone’s special recipe or going out for a fancy latte with a girlfriend who is only in town this time of year…whatever it is, include these special meals on your calendar and stick to them to avoid “accidentally” eating junk.

  1. Learn to politely decline food pushers (and please don’t be one!). Have you ever encountered this scenario: “Okay, who would like some seconds?” (silence) “Oh come on, Jack, I know you’d like some more. There’s so much food left in there…how about I bring a few dishes in to pass around?” Hence, more turkey + more mashed potatoes + more pie = wishing you’d worn elastic-waist pants and feeling like you want to sleep for the next month. When this happens, politely decline: “Thank you so much, Patty, everything was absolutely splendid! But I don’t think I could possibly fit another morsel in here. I can definitely help you pack up those leftovers, though!” If you are hosting, consider getting some of those inexpensive Gladware containers to send leftovers home with family and friends instead of pushing more food on everyone.

  1. Consider serving less or bringing a healthier dish to pass. Families often serve an overabundance of food on the holidays. Instead of having three to five side dishes, most of which are heavy, butter-laden starches, consider serving fewer really great dishes and/or serving lighter dishes of classic favorites (a great resource for this is www.cookinglight.com).

  1. And most importantly, remember the real meaning of the season is family, friends, and whatever higher meaning you give to this time of year. The media would have you think this was the season of eating, drinking, and spending, but take time to revel in the beauty of the season and the joy of being surrounded by the people you love – there is nothing that tastes better!

And if you're looking for some awesome workouts, check out these three special events I have going on...

1. Turkey Day Boot Camp at Fitness 19

2. Black Friday Boot Camp at Fitness 19

3. 12 Days of Christmas Workout Challenge at Fitness 19 (personal training SALE!)

Please visit the CONTACT page if you would like more information about these special events!

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