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10 Tips To Eating Right and Exercising Thru the Holidays

December 08, 2013 8 min read

With the holidays already among us and New Years just around the corner, many of us find ourselves running around, overcommitting to holiday plans and parties, overindulging quite a bit and maybe not having enough time for yourself to get your workouts in. We're all human. You work hard all year and look at the holiday time as a time to hopefully relax and have a good time and you should. BUT, what you shouldn't forget is that it's also NOT the time of year to completely neglect your fitness routine and eating right, MOST of the time. The key to eating right and keeping up with your training routine during the holiday and winter months is thinking of them just as you would any other time of year. You may attend a party here and there and be a little busier, but don't let that completely throw you off track. Remember, you've made fitness and good health part of your lifestyle, it's not something you commit to once in a while. Over the years, I've found these simple tips to be helpful. With kids to take care of, family visiting, parties to attend and the colder weather outside, something always seems to come up. PLan wisely and you will make it thru past the New Year without the heavy load on your shoulders to "LOSE THOSE LAST 5-15 POUNDS" that you plan to lose EVERY year.
  1. PRIORITZE YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE.  I know, I know. You hear this all the time, because it's the God's honest truth! In order to NOT neglect yourself and your workouts, they HAVE TO BE A PRIORITY. Just as you would schedule a meeting with a client, SCHEDULE your workout. This is solid advice I give to ALL my clients. This is your health we're talking about. If this means getting up earlier do it. If this means getting into the office earlier, do it. Not everyone is a morning person, but I have found that when you push off your workouts to later in the day, something always comes up. If you can't bear getting up earlier, then schedule your workout later and make sure you attend that 'meeting' at the gym or outdoors. REMEMBER, It's not all or nothing either. Just 20-30 minutes of a HIIT workout can be just as beneficial, if not more then 60 minutes of steady state work.
  2. EAT 4-6 SMALLER MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY INSTEAD OF 'SAVING' CALORIES FOR 1 MEAL. The reasoning behind it, I understand. You think you go thru your day and NOT eat, since you're expecting to head out later for a huge meals and drinks. The REALITY is quite different. You're actually sabotaging your metabolism by NOT eating, PLUS the idea that you will be able to RESIST the temptations while you are starving is not thinking smart. Eating 4-6 SMALL meals throughout the day will rev your metabolism, plus keep you out of the 'Hunger Games'.Winter-Workout-Clothing Choose food that is NUTRIENT dense and 'heavier' than snacks like chips, crackers, cookies, popcorn etc. Instead, choose more water based foods that are heavier and more satisfying since they will fill you up, like  fruits, veges, and soups. For instance, you can eat 1 cup of chips (and let's be honest, we eat WAY MORE THAN THAT!), OR 3 oranges to equal the same amount of calories, but you're consuming all that extra fat and sodium. By eating smaller meals throughout the day, you will be less likely to consume all those extra empty calories during your '1 meal' and feel satisfied since you are NOT going into it starving and 'eating with your eyes' (something my grandmother would always say!).
  3. FIND A RACE, OUTDOOR ACTIVITY OR COMPETITION TO JOIN. Most gyms will have holiday competitions to join to lose weight, or keep you on track during the winter months. Sometimes you will even run into these at work as well. If not, you can google your area and find races/runs/walks to participate in, or even look some up on Running in the U.S.A., and go from there! There are limitless options and it will give you something to work towards in the cold winter months when all you want to do is stay in doors. Even if you are not a 'RACE' person, ask a friend to commit with you. Believe me, it's a great time and you will feel awesome once you have completed it! Maybe you'll even get bitten by the 'race' bug, and want to continue to do it in the future!
  4. DON'T FORGET TO FUEL UP AND HYDRATE PROPERLY WHEN EXERCISING OUTDOORS. It's so easy during the winter months, when it's colder out to NOT drink enough water and eat properly when exercising. In the summer, you can sweat your brains out at the gym or outdoors with the heat. But in the winter, you may not  sweat as much and therefore, not feel the need to hydrate as much. This couldn't be further from the truth. Not only will not hydrating properly hurt your performance, but when you breathe in cold air, your body warms and humidifies that air. Then you exhale, and lose significant amounts of water. Make sure you hydrate properly before leaving and after returning from your outdoor routine. Just as you would 'fuel' up before a run outdoors in the summer, do so in the winter as well. I know the last thing you want to think about before going for a 6am run or boot camp class is eating. But, your body uses a considerable amount of energy heating your body and the air you breathe during the winter months, and a drop in body temperature will increase appetite, since your body will want to 'fuel' to generate heat. Therefore, if you don't fuel up before, have something available to eat during your workout. Especially, if you know you will be outside for a while in the cold.
  5. PLAN A WORKOUT BEFORE A HOLIDAY EVENT. This is something I ALWAYS do. Plan to go on a nice hard run, or hit the weights and gym before heading out to that holiday party. 1-2 hours after intense exercise, your body is more sensitive to the hormone insulin, which helps transport sugars to our depleted muscles. The carbs found in starchy holiday dishes like mashed potatoes, or sugars found in cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie are excellent for glycogen replenishment. The protein you'll get from that holiday turkey meal will help repair damaged tissue. Our metabolism is heightened after a hard workout, meaning we're more effective at burning those little "indulgences" that may otherwise pack on the unwanted weight for upcoming training. Plus, if you do something 'healthy' for yourself during the day, chances are that you won't want to completely 'waste' that effort, by overdoing it later on.
  6. BE MINDFUL OF LIQUID CALORIES. article-2271878-1749F472000005DC-477_634x384It's very interesting to me when I hear people complaining about how they have 'no idea' why they are gaining weight, because they are not overeating, BUT don't seem to count the 1500 calories they consumed the night before on wine and beer. It's totally fine if you want to drink and have a good time, but understand that just because you're not crunching the alcohol in your mouth, that you are indeed eating liquid calories. Alcohol contains almost as many calories per gram as fat (7 vs. 9 cal.). Also, when you overindulge in the alcohol, it lowers your inhibitions to then go for those sugary and salting empty calories without a care. Try alternating a cocktail, glass or wine, etc. with a glass of water or spritzer. Not only will you be better off in the caloric intake department, but you will also hydrate yourself as well, so you won't have as bad of a dreaded hangover the day after from too much alcohol and not enough hydration.
  7. WATCH WHERE YOU HANG OUT WHILE SOCIALIZING AT HOLIDAY PARTIES. How many times do you find yourself chatting it up with a friend or co-worker at a party, literally right on top of the chips, dips, cheese and crackers? You chat, you catch up and snack while doing it and before you know it, you've consumed several hundred calories in dip, chips, cheese, nuts, plus a cookie here or there, and you haven't even sat down for dinner yet. This adds up considering, that you are probably consuming a glass or two of wine while doing this, and at that point, you have consumed almost half of the daily caloric intake needed by an average person. Instead, grab a small appetizer plate or napkin and take a few hors d'oeuvres and do yourself a favor a WALK AWAY! Mingle, chat and enjoy yourself without becoming an appetizer hound.
  8. OFFER TO BRING A DISH TO A HOLIDAY FUNCTION. If you are concerned about the food options at parties, offer to bring a dish that you can enjoy as well. Chances are, your host will appreciate it too! You can create a colorful vege spread with homemade low fat dip, salsa low fat chips, or even a dessert with modified, more healthier ingredients. But I would say if you DO plan to bake, TRY out the recipe first. There are tons of ways make a dessert lower fat and lower calorie, but that doesn't' always mean it's going to be a 'hit' at a party, if it tastes like cardboard. There are tons of recipes I have tried substituting applesauce for oil or low fat sour cream for heavy fillers and  taste great. Best part about it is, if people DO love it, you can let them know how you made it, and the guests will be happy as well!
  9. DON'T SUCCUM TO WINTER BOREDOM. tumblr_le8nyrfxdf1qfq1dpo1_500In the colder winter months, it's very easy to become a cave person. You hibernate. You eat more and exercise less. Much of this comes out of boredom. Don't fall into this trap. Get out! If it's really too cold for you to get outside and get moving, then maybe join a kickboxing class a couple times a week. Pick up a class or two at your local 'Y' or even pop in a new fitness DVD. Plan activities that are fun and exciting that get you moving, just as you would in the summer months. Got kids? Take them outside and play in the snow! I can't tell you how much fun I had last year creating an obstacle course in the snow and pushing my girls in the sled all around. I was so sore the next day and felt great getting some fresh air and getting some quality time with my family. In terms of winter eating, stock your fridge with healthy alternatives. DON'T house leftovers in your fridge for days. Instead, give them to guests to take home or throw them out. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. If you are truly hungry and not just bored, start with healthy options such as fruit and see how you feel after, before jumping right into the bag of chips.
  10. RESPECT YOUR BODY AND BE REALISTIC ABOUT YOUR LIMITS. Bottom line, we are all human. I don't believe in diets where you cut out an entire food group because they are 'bad' for you, or make you 'gain weight.' UNLESS you have an allergy or something of the sort, you can enjoy all food groups. Everything in moderation. If you truly LISTEN to your body, it will tell you what it needs. Our body NEEDS protein, carbs and fat to function. The KEY for this time of year AS WITH ANY OTHER TIME OF YEAR, is to KNOW your limit. Listen to your body and commit to NOT overeat. PORTION control is KEY to a healthy diet. You can still have your turkey, potatoes, stuffing and dessert, but do not LOAD your plate with these. Instead, make 1/2 the plate veges or salad, then add a little protein and sides of those savory and sweet dishes you love. You can get a delicious taste of them and enjoy them by savoring them. EAT SLOWLY. Chew your food. Enjoy the meal! If you have a sweet tooth and have been eyeing that dessert, plan for it. Save room so you are not completely stuffed and uncomfortable. DON'T set yourself up for failure either. If you fall off the wagon one night, IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, and NOT an excuse to completely neglect your commitment to a healthy fit lifestyle. Like I said before, it's NOT all or nothing. Wake up again the next day and start the day off right!

Most of all, DON'T FORGET TO ENJOY YOURSELF!!!! Happy holidays!


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