While the holidays are likely going to go down a little different this year, some things will stay the same. Namely, you’ll probably still be relaxing and eating lots of rich food, the kind of treats that you wouldn’t think about touching any other time of year.
But as every person should know: it’s easier to stay in shape than to get back into shape. If you have a fitness routine and some kind of diet, you don’t want to lose all your progress while enjoying yourself this holiday season. And if you are looking to start on a new page after New Year’s, you want to go in on the best possible footing.
So, we’ve assembled a list of tips and strategies for keeping yourself healthy through the festivities. You can still enjoy yourself and eat well, but by the time New Year’s has come and gone, you won’t feel like a sleepy, bloated version of yourself.
Keep the Weight Off
There will be cookies. There will be candy. There will be eggnog. There will be champagne. There will be pies and gravy and wonderful pastries smothered in icing. You will want to eat and drink all of it. Chances are, no matter how dedicated you feel right now, at some point you will indulge.
That’s okay! The point this holiday season is not to be a calorie Scrooge. Instead, it’s about:
- portion control
- nutritional balance
You know what’s worse than eating one cookie? Eating an entire baking sheet worth of cookies. The first and best defense against letting yourself go this holiday season is managing the amount you eat, even when you’re eating rich foods.
You aren’t forbidden from eating what you want. It’s the holidays. You should enjoy yourself! But before you dive in, set a limit and stick to it.
You’ll find yourself feeling better already.
To keep pounds away while still enjoying all the good food and treats, it isn’t enough to simply eat less. Actually, you need to make sure you are still eating certain foods.
Before Christmas dinner, make sure to have a healthy snack — celery, carrots, or a small protein shake. This will limit your appetite when you’re around high calorie food. Plus, it will ensure that you’re still getting the fiber, high quality protein, vitamins, and minerals that you need to feel good.
The best part of this approach is how it avoids the dreaded self-control aspect of dieting.
How to Workout While on Vacation
It can be hard to keep yourself fit while taking a break from all the other responsibilities in life. Plus, who wants to workout after eating ham and pecan pie?
The problem comes when the holidays are over. You return to your routine but your body isn’t used to being active. You manage to get to work, play with the dog, and take care of the kids, but that pesky little workout keeps getting pushed into tomorrow. Pretty soon, it’s May and you haven’t exercised since Thanksgiving. You don’t want to be that guy.
The only way to avoid becoming that person is by keeping your appointment with yourself. Now you might be on vacation, you might want to focus on your family and friends, and you might not have your normal equipment around you. Nevertheless, you still need to carve out some time to get your heart rate up and your muscles pumping.
Try to keep the same number of workouts per week at around the same time. The sessions can be a lot lighter, but they need to keep you in your routine. If you used to bench press on Mondays and Thursdays, try push ups on Mondays and Thursdays. For squats, try plyometric jumps.
The point isn’t to go as hard or as long as you normally would. The point is to keep your commitment. And, as we mentioned above, make sure to still hit your protein goals — or, at least, don’t fall too far from your regular protein intake.
What you might find, especially if you go hard in the gym, is that you’ll return after the holidays a little stronger than before. You’ll have had the chance to recover nagging little pains and fully repair muscle tissue, but your body will still be in the groove of showing up for hard work.
- Do some kind of workout when you normally would
- Don’t slack on your protein
Enjoy Yourself (Without Feeling Guilty)
All this talk about fitness and staying healthy shouldn’t encourage anybody to beat themselves up about enjoying the holiday season.
Health isn’t just about those washboard abs, those massive deadlift personal records, or completing the marathon. It’s about wellbeing, and wellbeing encompasses the mind, body, and soul. The holidays are one of those few points in the year where you get to take a load off and really focus on the most important things in life.
Part of that is eating delicious food and vegging out with the people you love most. Don’t miss out on that! But while you’re making the most of your time, keep up with the above strategies, and you’ll come out of the holidays in great shape.