As the holidays are quickly approaching, many of us are pondering the impact they’ll have on our waistline. Because, let’s be honest, we all tend to overindulge this time of year. During this period we have so many opportunities to eat and drink more than we should, to sit or lie down and generally engage in activities that enhance our sedentary behavior. It can be scary.
The good news is that, no matter the temptations, you can stay fit during the holidays. With a proper planning and the right mindset you can enjoy the holidays and remain in great shape at the same time. To make your job easier, we’ve created a list of useful tips to follow for the next couple of weeks and hence avoid putting on those unwanted pounds. Here’s what you can do to survive the winter holidays and start off the New Year feeling good about yourself.
Set a Realistic Goal
First and foremost, set a realistic fitness goal for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s being active for 30 minutes each day, taking a certain number of steps or burning a certain amount of calories. The important thing is to set an achievable target. Setting bold, but difficult to reach goals won’t help. In fact, failing to achieve them may leave you feeling discouraged and can severely diminish your exercise motivation.
Create a Morning Exercise Routine
Do you remember the number of times you promised yourself you’d work out later, after work or after you’re done with your chores and ended up feeling too tired or unmotivated to do it? This has happened to all of us at a certain point.
By exercising in the morning you avoid the distractions and interruptions that inevitably appear during the day and you leave no room for other excuses. At the same time, you’ll feel energized and start off the day by feeling positive about yourself, since you’ve already accomplished something.
Walk and Track
Walking is one of the easiest and rewarding forms of exercise. As long as you do it on a constant basis, it will help you improve your health both physically and mentally. You can easily find ways to get those steps in: park further away from the building, go Christmas shopping in the mall, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take the dog for a walk, start a family competition to see who takes the most steps in a week.
In order to keep track of how much you’re walking you don’t really need to purchase an additional gadget. It’s enough to install a free pedometer app on your phone, like our own ActivityTracker, and you’re good to go. This way you’ll have instant access to all the fitness data you need, from the steps taken and distance covered to the calories burned and active time. At the same time you’ll be able to set a personal goal, watch your progress along the way and find the motivation to stay active.
Engage in Seasonal Activities
One of the best ways to stay fit for Christmas is to take advantage of the numerous winter activities. Cross-country or downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, perhaps snowshoeing? Or how about building a snowman or a snow fort in the back yard with your kids?
Winter sports are great not only because they’re fun and provide the opportunity to spend quality time as a family. They are also quite efficient when it comes to weight loss. For instance, a 165-lbs (75 kg) adult will burn 261 calories sledding for 30 minutes and 354 calories while skating for the same time.
Full Body Workouts
If it’s too cold outside and you don’t really feel like going to the gym, there’s no need to worry. You can easily work out from the comfort of your home. To really reap the benefits it’s best to focus on workouts that engage several muscles groups, not just one. These can include squat jumps, burpees, planks, push-ups and many more.
If you don’t have a clear fitness plan or don’t know exactly how to exercise in a correct manner, just download a fitness app. Many of them offer free versions that give you access to a variety of full body exercises, created by personal trainers for various goals: building muscles, weight loss and so on. The great thing about these apps is that they come with clear instructions and step-by-step videos, so you can make the most of your workout session.
Run on the Treadmill
If you’re set on working out inside, using the treadmill can be a great way to stay in shape during the holidays. Running on this machine has the power to turn into an excellent cardio workout and, at the same time, an efficient exercise for burning calories and reducing body fat thanks to the incline adjustment. To give you an example, a 165-lbs (75 kg) adult who will run at a speed of 3 mph and a 5% incline will burn almost 250 calories in half an hour.
Eat with Moderation
Nobody is saying you should deprive yourself of delicious Christmas meals. This can actually backfire on you. No, you can eat whatever you like, just don’t go overboard. Try to keep your portions small, to eat slowly for a proper digestion and to stop when you’re full even though there’s still food on your plate. Also try to eat as many veggies and fruits as possible. They’ll provide the nutrient values you need, while helping you feel full and content.
Beware of Excessive Alcohol
Just like eating, drinking should also be done with moderation. If you didn’t know it, wine, beer, punches and other alcoholic beverages contain calories. These will add up to the calories in your food and, frankly, you won’t enjoy the final result. For instance, a 150 ml (5 oz) glass of red wine contains between 106 – 132 calories.
The amount of calories consumed is not necessarily the main issue, even though it’s not completely neglectable. The main problem is that alcohol creates a fake hunger sensation which unfortunately you’ll want to satisfy with unhealthy, junk food. And if this becomes a habit, it’s quite likely that you’ll end up gaining weight over time.
Stay Properly Hydrated
Even though it may not seem like much, staying hydrated can actually make a difference. Drinking enough water is important to regulate body temperature, to make sure the nutrients reach our cells and to keep our organs functioning properly. At the same time drinking a glass of water, particularly before a meal, can help you reduce your appetite and hence eat less food rich in calories. Moreover, drinking water between cocktails, punches and other alcoholic beverages will certainly diminish the hangover effect.
Get Enough Sleep
If you didn’t know it by now, sleep is crucial. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night in order to function properly the following the day.
Sleep deprivation can lead to a series of negative effects on both your mind and body, including memory and concentration problems, high blood pressure, weight gain, poor balance and coordination. Therefore make sure you get enough rest during the night, and you’ll definitely wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle new challenges.