It’s the most wonderful time of the year ! The holiday season is fast approaching and your schedule will likely be filled from now until New Years with family obligations, traveling and festive outings with all sorts of tempting treats.
It’s no surprise that many of us see our waistlines get bigger this time of year and even the most disciplined people can find it difficult to stick to their health and fitness routines, that is unless we make a few efforts to stay on track. Sound impossible? It’s not, here are a few top ideas to lead the way from experts in health, sports medicine, behavioral psychology, fitness and nutrition – for some much-needed advice.
Get Creative – Get Rid of ‘all or nothing’ mindsets
This is a really important point because in a nutshell it means when you screw up on your diet or exercise regime for a day, don’t throw in the towel on the whole week! Pick up where you left off and get back on your health track. The holidays are hectic, but do your best to avoid the ‘all or nothing’ mentality when it comes to healthful eating and physical activity. In reality, there is more than just one way to live healthfully and be active.
Also get a bit creative with exercise and opt for fun ways that make physical activity a family affair. From exploring new group fitness classes to building physical activity into holiday traditions – like taking a family walk around the neighborhood before opening Christmas presents – think outside the box when it comes to ways to have quality time with family and friends while also prioritizing your health.
Keep on Moving
Try to keep moving around, avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as when watching football games or eating. Research shows that getting up for just five minutes every 30 to 60 minutes and performing light activity (say, pacing around the house or performing simple squat exercises) reduces the risk of diabetes and other heart disease risk factors.
Have a Plan and Stay Hydrated
The holidays can be a real land mine in terms of disrupting your best exercise and weight-control intentions. Start each day with a game plan, just like a great coach going into a big game. First, track your food intake and activity level. Doing so makes you aware of the amount of calories in certain foods. Even if you decide to eat higher-calorie options, you will probably eat smaller portions and make other adjustments to stay within your daily caloric goals.
Also, stay hydrated. Your brain can sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. A large glass of water before a meal (and especially before considering seconds) can help lessen the amount of food you consume. Drink six to eight glasses of water per day, and be sure to have two big glasses of water before the big, calorie-rich meals.”
Exercise early and Sleep
Getting your exercise in early on in the day ensures it gets done before other holiday events, so why not make it a priority? Getting plenty of rest not only burns calories but also keeps you energetic for things during the day, so why not get to bed in good time and make the most of the season!
Plan for a Workout
No matter how big or small. Remember that some exercise is better than none. Rather than skipping the gym altogether, make time for a quick workout. If you schedule keeps you from the gym, do something else. Go for a family walk, make a snowman, you get the idea. It may not be your normal workout but you will burn some calories and feel good that you made the effort (plus it may even be fun)!
Indulge for a night, not a season
It’s easy to overindulge when the season of parties and leftovers – so many leftovers – is upon us. Avoid allowing ‘treats’ to become staples by not letting them linger in the house after the celebration has ended. When the party is over, why not make sure guests can have some take away? Another great way to avoid over eating is to put left overs in the freezer right away making them less accessible.
Remember it’s a Single Day
Enjoy the holiday. If you worry about eating too much on this single day, the reality is that one day won’t make or break your health plan. Unfortunately, most people start a pattern of daily ‘treats’ in some form or another or skip exercise due to visiting relatives. That routine then somehow continues from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. Enjoy the holiday, but don’t let it go from a day of indulgence to a month of indulgence that leads to unwanted habits that continue beyond the holiday season.
Bottom Line: Enjoy, try some moderation and be open to switching up your routine a bit this season!
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