With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, some of you may be starting to grow a little nervous about how well you'll be able to maintain your willpower and trying to moderate the amount of food you eat, along with sticking with your planned workout sessions.
It's not uncommon to loosen the reins a little, this holiday in particular. Not only is food around every corner you turn, with winter now in full force you may be looking for some classic comfort foods you haven't seen over the summer months. Stuffing anyone?
While it's definitely okay to indulge a little, keep in mind just what "a little" qualifies as. A standard Thanksgiving meal can run you thousands of calories if you really enjoy yourself. And as you probably already know, for that one hour of gluttonous enjoyment, you'll need to spend many, many long hours doing not-so-enjoyable cardio in order to burn it off.
That said, don't completely deprive yourself, because that may backfire. You'll hold strong for the majority of the day, but then when you do cave, it becomes a backlash with all the feelings of self-denial kicking in.
If you give yourself permission to have a small amount of whatever foods are served that you enjoy, you'll be less likely to want to scarf down the whole pumpkin pie as it whisks across the table in your direction.
On the other side of the equation, paying attention to your fitness habits during this holiday becomes very important. Not only will being active help to eat away at some of those calories you'll consume, but for most people, physical activity will dull the appetite and desire to eat so you'll get the added benefit of actually wanting to eat less as well.
When You Don't Have A Gym
One problem that many face, however, is that over the holidays, they'll be forced to travel to remote locations to be with family members who decided to take up home somewhere that's miles away from the nearest gym. This then forces you to get extra creative if you hope to get in a workout that will still challenge your body.
Luckily, with some planning, this is an obstacle that's easily overcome.
The big thing to keep in mind here is that it's unlikely you're going to set any large personal records while away from the gym—and that's not the point of this.
The point is to simply get your body moving, get the blood flowing, and help to maintain your current fitness level. Besides, you'll probably only be gone for a few days anyway, and you definitely aren't going to lose everything you worked for over this time period. So, relax. A couple of days away from the gym is not going to be the end of the world—in fact, you might just benefit from it!
Some of you may have free weights available to use, depending on how into fitness your relatives are, but for most, you'll have to make due without.
If you do the right exercises, your body weight can still work effectively.
Exercise 1 Push-Ups
Push-ups are a great way to target numerous muscles in the body and can be done a variety of different ways. If standard push-ups are challenging enough, do them, but for those who are more advanced, start looking to handstand push-ups, clap push-ups, and decline push-ups.
If you would like to add weight, place something on your back (your younger niece works well), and push up from there. Trying to keep her balanced throughout the exercise will also work your core muscles more—much more than a bench press would, for example.
Exercise 2 Pull-Ups
Next, since you aren't going to have access to a barbell for rows, turn to pull-ups to target your back. If you happen to have a park nearby, you can surely find a bar to use there, or if that's not an option, look for something in your surroundings you can hang off of.
If you're still having trouble locating a bar, consider putting two chairs a few feet apart and place a broomstick or pole (preferably a metal one that won't snap) over the top of the two chairs. Then, lie underneath the pole, in between the chairs, and pull yourself up to it.
If you need more of a challenge, try one-arm pull-ups, or again, use that handy niece as added body weight.
Keep in mind too, that changing your grip will target the muscles from different angles .
Exercise 3 Jump Squats
Next comes the lower body. Squats are the king of lower-body movements, so you still need to find a way to do them. Since you don't have weight to squat, add to the intensity by performing jump squats. This will help to work on your explosive power, which may be something you've neglected for quite some time. Additionally, if you perform ten of these in a row, you'll also be getting a bit of cardiovascular work out of it as well.
Exercise 4 Pistol Squat
Another terrific way to challenge your lower body without the use of weights is full, ass-to-the-ground squats. Start by standing on one leg, with the other leg elevated slightly in front of you. From there, squat down, while keeping that leg extended, until you are all the way to the floor—but don't touch the floor, because you'll be coming right back up again. If you can do ten of these in a row on each leg, you are doing great. If not, then rest assured you're definitely getting a good challenge.
You might just be amazed by how hard these can be, even if you regularly squat quite a large amount of weight in the gym. No cheating though; you must come all the way down in order to get the full effects.
Next comes ab work, since your biggest worry is probably that the festivities at the dinner table are going to leave you with a little more around the waistline.
Your best bet when it comes to abs is to try to find a way to reduce your supportive base. Any type of movement you can do where you aren't stable is going to work your abs and entire core a lot more than an exercise where you are stable.
If you happen to have an exercise ball around, definitely make use of that. If not, consider doing V-sits while balancing on the end of a couch (ensure it is a study couch—you don't want to go damaging your grandma's antiques). By placing yourself of this ledge, you will definitely create more of a challenge than doing the same exercise on the floor.
Another good exercise to utilize is the plank, and you can increase the difficulty of this one by either placing the arms or legs on an unstable surface (a ball of any kind would work well), or lifting one arm and the opposing leg off the floor so you have a decreased base of support.
Try to hold this position for one full minute, rest, and repeat.
Factoring In Cardio
So, now that you've got your upper body, lower body, and core taken care of, it's time to consider cardio. Doing some cardio work is beneficial because ,minute for minute, it will burn the most calories if you do it at a high enough intensity.
If you happen to live in a climate where there's snow, running in the snow is a great way to torch calories fast and also challenge the leg muscles a great deal more than normal.
Or, if running isn't quite your thing, help out and shovel some snow. That's a terrific cardiovascular activity that will definitely work your upper body as well.
Alternative To The Workout
Finally, if you'd prefer not to do a standard-type of workout, and would rather take full advantage of your time away from the gym, consider some active games or activities that you can do with your family or friends.
These are going to be much better than just sitting around watching TV, particularly if done before the big meal since, again, exercise tends to blunt the appetite.
If it's snowing, consider going out snowboarding or, if you're really adventurous, snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing. Both of these activities are terrific lower-body workouts and will burn up a great deal of calories.
If you'd rather do something else, bring back your childhood years and have a snowball fight. Running in the snow, diving to avoid being hit, chucking the snowballs you create as hard as you can... all of these things will work the muscles and get your heart rate up.
If you don't have snow, try dodgeball. This is a great game to play and will really get you moving, or have a game of ultimate Frisbee.
So, as the day approaches, don't get too overly concerned about what it means for your training. Even if you just take it easy, you really aren't going to create that much damage to your progress—particularly if you do happen to have good self-control when it comes to food intake (this is probably most important, as those calories do add up quickly).
If you can incorporate some of these suggestions though, even if it's just for a half-hour workout, you can definitely help to put a dent in that Thanksgiving meal.