Healthy Holidays: Fitting Fitness In and Healthier Holiday Eating

Published:  11/21/2015

What would the holidays be without friends and family, lots of laughter, and plenty of festive food and drink? But did you know you can have all this and still be healthy?

Here are tips that will help you successfully sail through the holidays without sacrificing your healthy lifestyle.

  How to Fit In Exercise When You Don't Have Time

 If at all possible, get moving for an hour a day, four to five days a week during the holidays to help compensate for the extra calories you'll be consuming. A brisk walk, run, or bike ride will burn calories, relieve stress and elevate your endorphins and mood. If you have to miss a workout, simply increase your daily activities (shopping, cleaning, gardening, etc.). If you're unable to do a full workout here are some tips:

20 minute interval: To begin, warm up for two minutes, then pick up the pace, doing 15 seconds at a very high intensity level and then slowing down for 30-second intervals. Do this for approximately sixteen minutes and then slow it down for good, using the last two minutes to cool down.

Workday Workouts
Take a 10 minute break (in fact, take a lot of breaks!) during the day and give these a try:

1. Take a brisk walk: Change into a pair of sneakers and take a swift walk around the block can invigorate your muscles and get your heart rate up.

2. Take the stairs: This is a fantastic way to improve your cardio fitness, not to mention build up your legs and glutes. So skip the elevator, and walk up those stairs. Try this several times a day, so it adds up to 10 minutes.

3. When you're on the phone, try these exercises:
-Stand up and walk around as much as possible.
-Calf raises by lifting your heels off the floor 15-25 times, pausing momentarily at the top.
-1/2 squats or lunges while holding onto your chair for balance (works your thighs, glutes and helps to increase circulation).

Weight training techniques to shorten yet maximize your workout
Do Supersets. Training two different muscle groups (most commonly, antagonistic body parts) with little or no rest between sets is called supersetting. You train one body part - say, biceps - and as soon as you're done with a set, you jump right into an exercise for triceps. You alternate back and forth, resting one body part while blasting the other. This technique both fatigues the muscles faster and moves you through your workout at a pretty good clip.

Rest minimally. This also steps up intensity. Since the goal is to reduce your overall time in the gym, down time shouldn't exceed 30 seconds, or the time it takes to set up your next exercise.

Multijoint movements. These exercises require motion in two joints and recruit more than one muscle group at a time, although one group is considered the primary focus. Two examples include the bench press (both the shoulder and elbow joints move) and the leg press (hips and knees flex and extend). By doing primarily compound exercises, you work more than one muscle group at a time which, brings your muscles to fatigue faster and reduces time spent in the gym.

Plyometrics in your living room: You don't even have to leave your house for this workout (only more advanced level fitness buffs should try this, however). This combines cardio and strength training and can still be done in less than 10 minutes. You'll work up a big sweat and burn maximum calories.

1. two minutes of jogging in place

2. two minutes of regular jumping jacks

3. two minutes of jump squats (jump up into the air from the squat position, land in the squat position and repeat)

4. two minutes of jumping knee tucks (stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, jump up, and bring your knees up to chest level, return to starting position and repeat).

5. two minutes of jogging in place.

Take the whole family outside for some fun and games in the evening before the sun goes down and you'll burn 100 calories in just 17 minutes. Plus, the kids will enjoy the quality time with you and may persuade you to play twice that long!

Take a 20-minute walk with your dog (or borrow a neighbor's) in the morning. The dog could probably use the exercise, and it's a great way to wake up and get your blood pumping!

Plant some flower bulbs, so they bloom just in time for warm weather. Just 20 minutes of weeding and planting is all you need to burn 100 calories.

Wash the car. It's warm enough to skip the drive-through car wash and scrub down your vehicle. It's also a great way to catch some rays and breathe in fresh air!

Turn up the music and tune out the TV! This is a wonderful time of year to celebrate with friends and family. Put on some hot dance music or holiday music and have a singing and dancing session. By turning off the television for just one week you'll be amazed by how much more active you and your children become!

Healthier Holiday Eating

Ask friends not to give you food gifts, and you do the same. Instead, try making special pampering gifts like samplers of luxurious bath crystals rather than fudge.

Eat protein and high fiber meals throughout the entire day. These meals will help sustain your energy, eliminate unwanted cravings while improving your overall eating habits throughout the day.

Don't skip meals in the day to compensate for evening indulgence. By eating fruit or protein in advance, you'll help calm your appetite before blowing it on junk food.

Eat before an event. Don't go to a party starving. Before you leave home, eat something light or drink a meal-replacement shake. Also drink extra water before and during the party to help control your appetite.

Eat what you like. Don't pass up favorite foods or deprive yourself completely. Moderate consumption is the key. Choose one holiday feast where you want to eat what you like. As long as you get right back on track and add some activity, one big meal can be a part of your healthy-holidays plan.

If you don't buy it, you can't eat it. Don't tempt yourself by keeping trigger or comfort foods around the house. If you have them around, the likelihood that you will overeat increases dramatically.

Plan ahead. Make and stick to a daily meal and exercise plan, keeping in mind the challenges you'll face every day. If you tend to overeat during family gatherings, plan and visualize what and how much you will eat before you go. Also plan additional physical activities before or after big events.

When attending holiday festivities, don't station yourself near the buffet table. Make a clear-cut decision to distance yourself from all goodies.

Drink responsibly. Alcoholic beverages pack on empty calories. So if you're drinking alcohol, stick to light beer or a champagne spritzer—watch out for egg nog which is high in calories and fat.

Snack before you shop. Be sure to eat before a long day of shopping so you can avoid the food court at your local mall. You may want to bring along a snack.

Set limits for your sweet tooth. Decide how many treats you can afford each week and stick to your plan. Be sure to add some extra exercise into to your week to compensate for the extra calories.

Watch the BLTs. (Bites, Licks and Tastes). Just because it is the holidays doesn't mean you should give yourself the license to eat everything that passes by. Be sure to factor the BLTs into your daily intake.

Become a healthy chef. When bringing food or hosting your own party, search out healthy options to traditional holiday favorites. Wild rice stuffing, baked sweet potatoes, whole-grain rolls and angel-food cake with fruit are all figure-friendly holiday options.

Bring your own rations. If staying with family or friends, ask them to clear a small space in the refrigerator for your favorite healthy snack foods such as lean deli meats, cottage cheese, nonfat cheese sticks and fruit.

Wear your skinny jeans. If you want to really keep yourself honest and the same size during the holiday season, wear your most form-fitting blue jeans. Another trick is to tie a string or ribbon that won't budge with the bulge around your waist and under your shirt.

Make careful food choices. If you are at the mercy of the dinner host, eat modest amounts of the foods offered and fill up on foods with more fiber and volume and fewer calories. Make a small plate and skip the seconds.

Resist the urge to order takeout food and spend just 30 minutes preparing a delicious, low-fat meal. The added bonus is that you'll be eating fewer calories!

Breathe! Take a meditative moment at least once a day to breathe deeply and clear your mind of all the clutter.

Enjoy the season, friends and family....not just the food!

 Happy Holidays!



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