With the holidays coming many people are going to be worried about the extra weight that accumulates due to doing a little to few workouts and eating a little to many festive desserts. Let's face it, most people gain an average of 3-7 pounds each holiday season that is well seen when gym memberships skyrocket through the roof come January.
What's worse is many people aren't successful at taking off the holiday weight gain thus resulting in the gradual up shift in body weight. With a few modifications in attitude and the way you go about organizing yourself this season you can survive the holiday season with your current physique in tact.
Getting Exercise In
Every weekend starting in the middle of November until the first week in January there seems to be a different function to go to. Whether its work Christmas parties, friends' get-togethers or family gatherings you find your time is in short supply. Often it's very hard to say no to these requests, as we feel almost obligated to show up even if it means cutting into our workouts.
Along with that, there is the endless hours spent Christmas shopping, decorating and baking to get ready for the big day. So what can you do to ensure you get your workouts in around all these other commitments?
Realize that there is only one of you to go around and sometimes it truly is best to say no. If you spread yourself too thin you will end up just being in a bad mood and possibly even compromising your immune system, which will leave you sick and then unable to go to anything at all.
The Immune System
The system in the body that works to ward off infection and disease. Central to this system are the white blood cells. Some white blood cells produce antibodies in response to specific antigens that may invade the body; others function as scavengers to fight infection by destroying bacteria and removing dead cells.
Giving yourself permission to miss a few events in order to take care of your health, fitness and psychological well being is critical if you want to actually enjoy the holidays rather than just feeling like it is bypassing you in a whirlwind.
Often work events will be the hardest ones to get out of since it could look bad on your professional career, but for some family occasions, usually if you explain to the host your situation and offer to take them out for coffee or dinner at another time they will be more than understanding.
Or consider going, but making it a shorter appearance. This might just give you enough time to get your workout in before you go and then still allow you to catch the last few hours of the party.
Fit 'Unscheduled' Workouts In
You don't necessarily have to be in a gym in order to maintain your pre-holiday shape. Everything you do will help towards warding off the negative effects of the holidays. Try doing simple things, such as performing bodyweight activities at night during commercials while you are watching TV (assuming you still have enough free time to catch the odd show).
Take a 15 minute walking break at work instead of just going for coffee, even just trying to be more active around the house and manually performing activities you would normally not do, such as getting up to change the channel.
It sounds sort of silly but in all honesty, every activity you do burns calories, and excess calories are probably the biggest problem with the holidays.
Any way you combat this will help remedy the situation. Also, another added benefit to fitting in shorter bursts of exercise is that it will help to keep your metabolism up all day long thus keeping you burning more fat than if you just performed a single workout altogether.
Find little ways to get two things done at once so you can free up more spare time to allow yourself a chance to get to the gym. An example here might be making phone calls to all of your relatives while you are cooking supper at night. This way, by the time the conversation is done, you will have prepared a healthy meal and gotten caught up with loved ones.
Focus On Intensity
When you do manage to sneak in enough time to get in your workout, focus more on intensity than duration. You will find that as long as you are working out at the same intensity, maybe even higher since your workouts will be lower in duration than before.
You will stand a much better chance of maintaining your fitness than if you cut your workouts in half to accommodate the lack of time and missed out on some of the exercises.
For example, instead of skipping legs entirely on your full body plan, reduce each exercise to only one set and go at the same intensity, or higher if you can manage. This will ensure you are still targeting all your muscles and providing enough of a stimulus to prevent detraining.
Make Family Time Active
Since most people tend to spend more time with loved ones during the holidays, whether it's with immediate family or with your extended relatives, why spend some of your time with them in active pursuits? For instance go for an afternoon of skating instead of just playing cards at the table.
On Christmas Eve, rather than watching movies, take a walk around your neighborhood to look at all the different lights people have put up on their houses.
These options may not increase your fitness level per se, but they will help undo some of the damage those too-hard-to-resist Christmas cookies have done.
Sticking To Your Diet
This side of your health regime is probably the hardest to stick with out of the two. With all the tempting baking and oversized holiday meals it's no wonder we all wind up looking a little more robust in the New Year. Fighting against this takes some careful planning and a general knowledge of what to avoid.
Never Go To A Party Hungry
Some people, since they know they will be indulging later on that night will starve themselves all day to save up for their big feast. Not only will this lead to one big binge but it will slow your metabolism to a crawl so everything you do take in has a much great chance of winding up as fat.
Eat your regular meals as you normally would but try and make them slightly smaller than usual. Also, have a light snack of protein and fat before going to the party to curb your hunger. This will help to reduce your craving for all the party food. Great options here would be 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with 1 tbsp of peanut butter or a small serving of salmon with some steamed veggies.
Decide Before A Get-Together What You Will Eat
If you have a fairly good idea what will be served on the menu before you go, chose one or two 'Christmas treat's' that you will allow yourself to indulge in and then stick to making the rest of your meal healthy choices.
This way you won't feel like you are completely depriving yourself but will also not overdue it in ways that could take a good week's worth of workouts to get back on track.
Also, if you don't take one particular item at one party, chances are pretty good it will be served at another that season so it's not like it's your last chance to satisfy your craving.
Only Eat 'Holiday' Treats
This point sort of relates to the last one in that you should try and limit yourself to only eating treats that are typical of the season. For instance, people will likely have a bowl of nuts on the table at most events. Take into account though that you can get nuts any time of the year, so why waste calories on them when you could be eating something you only get once a year at Christmas?
Remind yourself that you can get these normal treats any time throughout the year and hopefully this will be enough to convince yourself to pass them up this time around. Instead, go for treats such as a turtle or two (although you can buy these year round, but they are more typical at Christmas), candy canes, or your mom's world famous dessert that she only bakes during the season.
Eating a few of these indulgences over the holidays won't do any significant damage to your waistline as long as you accompany them with smart choices the rest of the time.
Offer To Bring Your Own Dish To The Party
There's a good chance the host of the party would more than welcome an extra addition to their table, after all, with all the planning involved in throwing a good size party or get together this is one less thing they need to worry about. This also allows you the comfort in knowing that there will be at least one item that will be a smart choice to eat.
Be Aware Of EVERYTHING You Put In Your Mouth
It's amazing how many people claim to have strictly watched what they ate over the holidays but are still finding themselves 2 or 3 pounds higher than they were before.
A likely reason for this is that without really realizing it, they nibbled on little bits of items here and there. For instance if you are doing quite a bit of cooking and baking during the season, how many times did you sample your recipe to ensure it was up to par? Or as you walked by your co-workers desk at work, how often did you decide to just pop one little piece of chocolate or candy?
Remember that it all adds up, and often these are the worst indulgences since we aren't even aware we are eating them, which means they aren't satisfying any type of craving.
By following even a few of these tips you should do fairly well at helping ward off the holiday weight gain I'm sure you've experience on at least one occasion in your life.
Remember to cut yourself a little slack though, as holidays are a time of indulgence and no one can be absolutely perfect year round. Just try and focus more on the spirit of Christmas and all the good times with your friends and family and hopefully this will help take some of the emphasis off food and missed workouts.