Nothing throws your routine into chaos quite like the holidays, which can make eating right and hitting the gym a struggle.
As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.
In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!
This week I’ll be sharing a few tips to help you enjoy the holiday season without letting your health and fitness routine fall by the wayside.
It doesn’t matter which winter holiday you celebrate or what your family and friends’ particular traditions or rituals are, it’s guaranteed that food is a big part of everything that’s happening this time of year. From an overabundance of rich and sugary baked goods to giant sit down meals to late night drinks and snacks, the holidays tend to revolve around food. That makes it difficult to not over-indulge, at least a little.
Not only will you probably be taking in a lot more calories than you normally would, but you’re also going to be a lot busier than usual. There are errands to run, parties to attend, and traveling to do. And if you happen to be the one everyone is traveling to, you’ve got a house full of people to look after for days at a time. All of that adds up to a lot less time to spend at the gym for the next few weeks.
Staying on track with your fitness routine can be a challenge at the best of times, which means a lot of people give up right about now and put that routine on hold until the new year. Same goes for their efforts to eat healthier.
That doesn’t have to be the case for you this year. However, you’ll need to start planning before the holidays are in full swing if you want to keep yourself on track where both food and exercise are concerned.
First, you’ll want to come up with a realistic workout routine you can fit into your more hectic schedule without constantly needing to change your plan. If you know your evenings are going to be busy, head to the gym before work instead of after, or come up with a quick, high-intensity workout you can squeeze in before you have to get ready to head out. Holiday fitness generally means taking advantage of whatever time you have, so high-intensity interval workouts that burn a maximum amount of calories in a minimum amount of time are perfect. And even doing sit-ups or jumping jacks while you’re waiting for cookies to bake is better than skipping your workout altogether.
If you’re in charge of – or at least have some say in – party plans, try centering your get together around a festive activity like ice skating instead of the usual cocktail hour. A fun social activity that gets everyone up and moving can be a nice change of pace.
Once you have a good idea of how you’ll be adapting your fitness routine to suit your holiday schedule, you can focus on making sure you’re keeping your diet in check. When you know you’ll be surrounded by the kinds of foods you really want to eat but know you shouldn’t, make sure you eat a healthy and filling meal ahead of time so that you’re less likely to spend the night snacking.
Try to avoid foods that are full of fats and sugars as much as possible, and limit yourself to just a few treats. It’s still the holidays, after all, so don’t deprive yourself a small indulgence or two. A little moderation goes a long way towards keeping your fitness goals on track. And when it’s time for that big family dinner, be mindful of your portions and skip the gravy.
Turkey is already a lean protein, and including lots of veggies as side dishes will give you a ton of options you can enjoy without feeling guilty. Try serving up a big tray of roasted winter vegetables instead of the usual butter-laden mashed potatoes, and opt for the whole wheat version of your favorite dinner rolls. A few small changes to the menu can make a big difference.
Don’t feel bad about needing to scale back on your fitness goals for a few weeks. Stressing yourself out over everything you’re not doing is only going to hurt your motivation when life gets back to normal, and more importantly, it’s going to make enjoying this time with your loved ones a lot more difficult.