I know what you are thinking – the holidays are a time for fun and indulgence. You don’t want to think about fitness during that time. You want to enjoy yourself. Okay, before you accuse me of being the Grinch, you should know that I completely agree. The festivities don’t have to be eliminated or avoided, because you can have a fabulous time while also maintaining your weight and your fitness regimen. I mean who doesn’t want a piece of Hamonado or Queso De Bola that you get to eat likely once every year?
The secret to achieving a holiday season that is both full of fun and also includes fitness is found in moderation. There are two typical approaches to the seasonal festivities:
- Throw all healthy habits out the window and indulge in every guilty pleasure
- Starve and binge approach (for example, you eat nothing all day long to allow yourself to overindulge in party food)
Of course, neither approach is successful at maintaining a healthy, fit lifestyle throughout the holiday season.
As I mentioned above, the key is found in moderation. With a moderate approach both to what you eat (or don’t eat) and how much exercise you do (or don’t do), you can avoid packing on extra weight AND also partake in all the fun of the season. So this season, get a head start on the upcoming new year instead of starting on January with extra pounds to lose. Here are some tips to help you:
Create a plan ahead of time. Before the holidays sneak up on you, create a plan for incorporating fitness and good nutrition into your daily routine. Evaluate your holiday and then determine how much time you will realistically have available to devote to working out and/or eating healthy meals. Need a good starting mindset? Don’t put your fitness goals on hold until the New Year.
If you can’t exercise as often during this time period as you normally do, simply adjust appropriately. Don’t use the excuse that since you don’t have time for your full workout you just won’t workout at all. Instead accept your limited availability and simply reduce the frequency and/or duration of your exercise. It’s much better to cut your fitness time in half than to completely eliminate it. Sounds good?
Then on the day of a party, be sure to eat regularly all day long. If the party is in the evening, eat breakfast, lunch and a snack before hand (just as you would on any other day). Once you are at the party, go ahead and indulge in some of the fun, delicious foods. Since you have eaten meals earlier in the day, you probably will find that you aren’t tempted to go overboard and eat everything in sight. However, if you starve all day long attempting to save up all your calories for the party, you will be so famished by the time it begins that it will be difficult not to overeat.
Schedule your workouts. Mark them on the calendar and set-aside time to complete them. Consider them as important as any other appointment or event you have marked on your calendar. When at a party, start by eating some of the healthy offerings. For example, vegetable sticks, fruit pieces, plain chicken pieces, etc. Then move on to some of the less healthy (but yummy) offerings. Chances are you will be less likely to overindulge on these foods if you have already filled-up on some of the healthier items. Yet, you will not feel deprived or unsatisfied.
On days that you really lack motivation or simply do not have time for your complete exercise routine, commit to do just 10 minutes of exercise. You’ll probably end up doing more than that once you get started. Even if you only end up completing 10 minutes, that is still a lot better than zero minutes.
When presented with a large variety of food options, it’s tempting to want to eat everything. Rather than eating one large slice of that Red Ribbon’s Black Forest Cake or a huge plate of Buko Pandan, select a sampling of smal servings of several of the desert or appetizer offerings. This way you get the enjoyment of trying many different foods without overeating.
Exercise at home. You’ll be more inclined to follow-through on your exercise commitment if you don’t have to drive somewhere to do your workout. Plus, you won’t waste any time on driving, parking, the locker room or waiting to use equipment. Working out at home requires very little equipment (even can be equipment-free) and is quite inexpensive.
Avoid wasting calories on alcoholic beverages. The average alcoholic drink contains 150-200 calories per glass. Indulge in just 2-3 drinks and you’ve drunk the equivalent calories of an entire meal. If you partake in these beverages, choose wisely. For example, instead of having a full glass of wine, try mixing half a glass of wine with sparkling water or with a diet cola. This will help cut your calories in half. When running errands or shopping, be sure to pack some healthy snacks to have on-hand. Then after you work-up a big appetite, you won’t be tempted to grab something at the mall food court or the fast food restaurant on the way home.
I hope these tips will help you find a balance between staying fit and also enjoying the fun of the season. Remember, moderation is the key. Have a fit and healthy holidays!