Every year, millions kick off the holiday season with a stomach full of turkey on Thanksgiving, followed by several days of leftover pies and cakes and numerous booze-filled holiday gatherings. This can easily result in a weight gain of 5-7 pounds, enough to damper anyone’s holiday cheer.
So how do you stay fit and avoid temptation during the holidays, while also enjoying one of the most festive times of year?
Here to the rescue is fitness and nutrition guru John Rowley who is the Director of Fitness and Wellness at American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness. Rowley, who is also a best-selling author and motivational speaker, provides the below tips to keep people on track without taking the fun out of the season!
His unusual spin and unique tips are:
You Have to EAT! – You don’t have to starve yourself, that will only damage your metabolism! Have a light protein based snack before any holiday gathering, this will keep you satisfied and help you to resist over-eating and indulging in every appetizer, main course dish, and dessert that is offered. Keep a protein bar in your pocket, chew gum, or keep yourself occupied with conversation instead of hovering near the buffet.
The NO Exception Rule – Some people stop working out and start eating during the holidays and can’t stop until spring! Know what you can and can’t eat. Be sure not to skip your workouts because once you do skip Monday it is easy to skip Tuesday, then the rest of the week and before you know it spring is here. Even ten minutes of physical activity is infinitely better than none at all. Walk around the block a few times or do crunches before a party and this will help keep you in gear.
Drink water and alternate alcoholic beverages with a glass of water - Water is going to naturally help you avoid eating as much if you drink a large glass 20-30 minutes prior to having a large dinner. Plus, water will keep you hydrated and help you burn fat more efficiently. Some people confuse hunger & cravings for sweets with dehydration. If you just drink a glass of water, that will often take care of the food yearning.
Strategic Indulgence – The holidays are a time to indulge and you know you are going to anyway so the key is to decide in advance when you are going to do it so it works with your metabolism to burn fat. In other words plan your indulgence sessions and get leaner, more muscular, fit, vibrant and healthy.
Indulge and burn fat - If you know you are going to really indulge on certain days during the holidays have it work for you. On the days leading to your planned indulgance day, Go low on your carbohydrates for 3 to 5 days prior and this will actually cause your body to burn fat on the day you are eating a lot, simply because your body was not ready for it, it will ignite up your metabolism to protect itself.
Lean But Not Mean – Have some fun with your fitness! You don't’ have to walk around like Scrooge go get fit. Walk your dog and if you don’t have one get one for the holidays. Do a group class at your local gym with a fun group, take up an active hobby like martial arts or just find a group of friends who like to chat and get them to chat on the bike or while walking, instead of over coffee cake. Simply incorporate activities into your lifestyle to enhance your fitness.
The 10,080 Minute Rule - You can’t manage time, so stop trying! You can organize your day the evening before, prioritizing your tasks and make sure you schedule time to work out. In fact schedule your workouts as if they are the most important meeting of the week. Don’t forget that everyone has the same 10,080 minutes in the week and some people have time to change the world and others don’t have time to change their socks. Time is seldom the issue, having the energy to use your time properly is. Get in shape... get more time!
If you do slip up--don’t worry about it we all do. Your life is a marathon not a sprint and remember it isn’t what you do once in a while that matters it is what you do most of the time. Also the holiday season is a great time for forgiveness so give yourself a break. Doing so will help you to move on quickly, avoiding any further damage to your program. Remember that perfection simply isn't a requirement for being fit and staying healthy.