Nathaniel Melendez, ACSM
During the holidays, your fitness routine is going to be tested. Your TV will be filled with images of roasts, ham, mashed potatoes and pies at every commercial break. At work, your colleagues will show up with platters of holiday pastries and homemade sweets they want you to try. And, of course, there will be holiday parties, sometimes more than one on the same evening, and it would be rude not go, right?
That doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon your commitment to fitness, although you may have to make a few adjustments. Try these six tips to help stay fit during the holidays.
1. Move, Move, Move
Staying active and moving around is going to be key because it burns calories. And while exercises that get your heart rate up are great, less strenuous activity also is good.Do the little things to stay active. Take the stairs, park farther away, walk around the mall and go shopping. You can even set a reminder on your phone to move around for 10 minutes after every hour you sit.
2. Keep a (Nearly) Normal Routine
This might be the only time you get to spend with many of your family and friends, so relish it. If you plan to travel, it may be hard to stick to your routine, but stay as close to it as you can. If you normally work out five days a week, work out three. If you are staying in a hotel, check to see if they have a fitness center or look into the local gyms and ask if they offer free passes. The best time to work out is in the afternoon. This is when your body temperature, protein synthesis and reaction time peaks. So enjoy the holidays, sleep in a little and then get moving.
3. Be Realistic
Understand that it’s the holidays and you should enjoy them. This is a time for family and friends. Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to eating. The more you restrict your food cravings, the more you want to eat. Recognize it’s only one night and enjoy yourself, but be smart. Eat plenty of the healthy items being served and enjoy smaller portions of the not-so-healthy treats.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Not only does water lubricate and cushion your joints, but it keeps your stomach full.
Do the little things to stay active. Take the stairs, park farther away, walk around the mall and go shopping.
5. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep plays a big role in fitness, and a lot of people don’t get enough of it. For a restful night’s sleep, make sure your bed is comfortable, shut off all electronics 1.5 to 2 hours before bed, keep your room dark and limit your water intake at least 45 minutes to an hour before you go to bed. You can even play some relaxing music, such as YouTube’s delta waves, if you are having trouble falling asleep. Sleep eight to nine hours.
6. Limit TV Time and Partner Up
Now is the time to spend with family and friends and catch up. If you are visiting another city, make it a point to go sight-seeing, walking as much as you can. Get out of the house or hotel and away from the TV so you can explore. Partner up with someone for a walk or go work out together.
If, despite your best efforts, you weigh yourself in early January and you’ve gained a few pounds, don’t get down on yourself. Simply get back into your exercise routine, cut back to a normal diet and keep a positive attitude. And remember how much fun you had during the holiday season!