Hang on tight. The holidays are nearly here, and despite filling the air with joy and good will, this time of year can also spell disaster for your workout routine. With parties and get-togethers both in and out of work, it’s hard to keep your fitness goals under control. In fact, studies show that from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, most people are going to see that needle on the bathroom scale head a bit further north than they’d wanted.
Although overeating will take the bulk of the blame, let’s face it: Many of us just find it hard to cram our regular exercise routine into our hectic holiday schedules. If you feel this way about your workouts, you’re not alone. It’s one of the major reasons that fitness centers across the country see a sudden growth in membership every January.
Here’s the good news. It is possible to enjoy your holiday season and stay in shape at the same time. Here are some tricks to help you do just that.
Keep a Close Eye on the Pumpkin Pie
Although every holiday party might seem like just another excuse to binge, it’s not so hard to overcome the temptation. To keep yourself on the straight and narrow:
- Never leave home hungry. Just a small amount of protein before heading out the door will help curb overeating once you get to where you’re going.
- Don’t skip meals. It’s only natural to think that denying yourself in the morning will free you to indulge as much as you wish at a friend’s house later on. Sadly, what you’ll really wind up doing is eating far more at that evening party than you might have otherwise.
- Let yourself graze. Several small meals throughout the day will keep you satisfied. Eat well, but eat small.
- Be selective. Don’t waste your calorie allotment on foods that are available any time of year. Instead, stick to the treats you’re only likely to find on a holiday table.
- Plan for a few low-calorie days just before you splurge. After a time of caloric deficit, a single day of eating well can jump-start your metabolism. Just be sure to limit the fling to that day only, then eat like a pauper for a few days after that.
Go Easy on the Beverages
At every gathering you attend, someone is bound to offer you some liquid refreshment. When they do, remember:
- Juice, soda, and alcoholic drinks have more calories than you might think. If you just must have that eggnog, cut back on something else.
- Drink water. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, it’s thirst that’s calling the shots. Filling your stomach with H2O is a great way to kill your appetite and keep yourself on the straight and narrow. It can even lessen a hangover, so do drink up and drink often.
Don’t Let Exercise Take a Vacation
At holiday time, it’s easy to let a long to-do list push your workout routine to the back burner. To stay in shape through all the excitement, give yourself a bit of a reprimand and make it a point to: – Keep moving. Although you may find it especially hard right now to squeeze in your fitness routine, don’t let go of it entirely. Do your workout whenever you can, and when you can’t, find an excuse to walk where you’re going or forego the escalator in favor of the stairs.
- Spend some time outside. We know, we know: This time of year, the weather may not always be the best. But bundle up and do it anyway. Winter sports and games can be a lot of fun, and the cold can rev up your metabolism.
- Try some strength training. Muscle does burn fat quite well, and a bit of weight-lifting can build you up or at least help you keep what you’ve got already.
- Be realistic. You know that time is limited now, so don’t force yourself into a series of long workouts when you know you won’t be able to keep them up. Instead, try to fit in a few 10-minute sessions here and there throughout the day. There’ll be plenty of time after New Year’s to return to your longer routines.
The holidays may try their best to wreak havoc with your fitness plans, but nobody said you have to let them. Just stay sensible and keep your body moving whenever you can. Have a happy, as the saying goes, and enjoy the good times you will spend with the people you love. Not a member? Get a free passnow.