Ah, December is here and the holiday season is in full swing. We just survived Thanksgiving, Hanukkah is already under way, but now the Christmas Holiday and New year’s is heading our way. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s usually means a lot of food and drinks due to family celebrations and holiday parties. A lot of people gain weight during this time accordingly, but that does not necessarily have to be the case. I have been doing pretty good on that side of things over the last few years, but that has not always been the case. Here are some easy to follow tips to stay fit during the holidays and how to avoid gaining weight as well.
Therefore staying fit during the Holidays is a big must for me. My metabolism by itself is fairly low and if I would start skipping workouts combined with eating too much I can feel the pounds around my waist increasing quickly. When your
party social calendar is full with Turkey Dinners, parties, and other holiday dinners and celebrations, the last thing you really want to do is to drop your daily workout. For one you might gain weight, but you also lose a lot of fitness if you stop working out for several weeks. I actually experienced this myself because I involuntarily had to stop working out two weeks before I ran the Las Vegas marathon. So, don’t do it 😉
Tips to Stay Fit During the Holidays
Work Out Early
Do not push your workouts into the afternoon or evenings. Get up a bit earlier and workout in the morning. Even if you have to reduce your workout to 30 minutes in the morning – 30 minutes is definitely better than nothing. I know it is hard to get up early – especially if you stayed up too long, but after just a few days getting up a bit earlier is a habit and it gets easier. You will really love the extra energy you get from a morning workout. I usually get up at shortly after 4.00 AM and work out between 5.00 AM and 6.00 AM (Kosama / Cross Fit). Then I try to go for a run in the afternoon, but if I miss my run at least I have one full hour of workout taken care of because I went working out in the morning.
Nothing beats a nice, competitive challenge – especially when it comes to working out. Make a friend or family member work out with you every day. It challenges you to get up out of bed and keep going. Or sign up for one of the many online challenges where people keep track of each other’s workout. For one you can make new friends, but even more important – the online challenge keeps you accountable. Last, but not least – set a challenging goal for your workouts. Try to reach a goal that is difficult to achieve, but one that makes you feel proud when you reach it. Currently I see people in my Facebook feed that challenge themselves to do planks every day and with every second day the time requirement increases. They started at 20 second planks per session and then it goes up in 10 second intervals every other day.
Eat in Balance
Over-eating is a big problem for me and for it is for most people. I admit, I can easily over-eat if I do not pay attention. My trick is to avoid being really hungry. I eat early enough so that I do not get extreme hunger feelings. As a result I get away with smaller portions. I also drink a lot of water and avoid artificial sweeteners to curb the feeling to eat. If I have to attend a holiday party I still have a healthy snack right before I leave for the party. It definitely cuts down on eating calorie-heavy holiday food. Allow for a treat here and there, but keep things in moderation.
Facebook or Instagram make it easy to post pictures. Get challenged to post a workout picture every day during the holiday season. Let friends and family be the judge or motivate them to do the same thing. These type of challenges keep you accountable and it actually can motivate others to follow your example.
Work Out in Intervals
If you have problems adding an hour of workout time to your busy schedule, go short. Several studies have shown that short, but intensive workouts can help as well to burn calories and to get the metabolism going. Instead of working out for 60 minutes before work, implement shorter but intense workouts 2 two (preferably three) times a day. This is also a great way to get away from all that holiday stress.
No Time for a Workout?
Then do not work out, but add more physical activity to your day. If you work in an office building use the stairs and forget about the elevator. Get up from your chair and walk every hour for at least 5 minutes. When going somewhere by car, park further away from where you need to be. The goal in general is to add several thousands of steps to your day. This will help to keep the metabolism going and walking is very healthy anyway. Of course be safe when it is dark and make sure cars can see you early by wearing clothes in brighter colors or have some reflective gear on.
I am writing a lot about running and this list would not be complete if I would not recommend some sort of running exercise to stay fit. Running is one of the best way to stay fit during the holidays. I understand that is dark and cold outside this time of the year and running outside is not necessarily appealing to you. So, give yourself a gift (or two) and buy some winter running gear. We runners dig new shoes and running clothes and if that is something that would get you motivated to go outside, then get your own Christmas present early. Get some warm running tights and some reflective gear (to be seen in the dark) and go outside. I really like the Brooks Nighlife collection, but have not purchased anything yet. I am actually hoping Santa will get me some of that. 😉 The first mile might feel a bit chilly, but I promise you it feels great when you come home from a 6 mile run totally sweaty and warm. Your spouse or partner will totally dig it, too.
I also signed up for a half marathon race here in town (well, about 45 minutes from where I live). Adding this type of challenge makes me go out and run because if I am going to pay money for a half marathon I want to half an enjoyable experience. What good would it be if I barely make it to the finish line? I also do not want to lose my money and so I am motivated to go and run. As luck has it, it will freaking cold on Saturday when the half marathon is. A cold front moved in early this week and is supposed to stay for about a week. Temperatures at start time of the race will be in the low single digits – but that’s where I am going to reward myself by buying some new winter running gear before the race. I have run in these type of temperatures before and in general it is not a big deal. I am just not sure about the waiting time right before the race. At home I head out the door and I am running – over there I might have to stand in the cold for 20-30 minutes. Of course I did not anticipate such cold temperatures when I signed up for the half marathon, but that’s how the weather in Colorado is. It was in the sixties on Monday and by the end of Tuesday we were in the single digits already.
Happy “Fit” Holidays