Fitness Tips for the Holiday Season

Finding time to work out amid the busyness
By Beth Aldrich

The holidays are just around the corner—what better way to celebrate the festivities than to stay in shape and in good health throughout the season’s hustle and bustle? Starting the new year without having to go on a diet or begin a new exercise plan is the perfect gift to yourself. And if you think you’re going to be too busy to work out this holiday season, guess again. Sure, you’re thinking, “Who really has time to stop to lift weights and run a mile?” A common misconception many of us have is that if you can’t dedicate a specific amount of time to your fitness routine, it isn’t worth it. Bah humbug … it’s not true.

Check out this simple list of fit tips to stay in shape and in good health, throughout the holidays and beyond.

1. Plan Ahead

Jot down the actual times you are going to work out in your planner or a calendar, and consider each time a non-negotiable scheduled appointment. If you consider your workout part of your daily schedule—not just something you will fit in if you have time—you’re more likely to stick to it. If you’re traveling during the holidays, don’t miss a workout because you can’t find a gym close-by. Instead, check out this gym locator and you’ll be good to go: bit.ly/P9877r

2. Break It Up

It’s great to get at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, but people often think it needs to be done all at once. It’s perfectly acceptable to break up your workouts into ten-minute spurts. If you are at work, go out for a brisk walk between meetings. Take a break from answering emails and stretch for ten minutes in your office. Any sort of physical activity counts as exercise, and little bits throughout the day really add up.

3. Pack Snacks

Everyone gets hungry during the day, so plan ahead and avoid making trips to the vending machine or coffee shop for that super creamy hot chocolate. Instead, take the time to pack healthy snacks in single serving bags to take with you, wherever you go. Make sure your snacks have a good combination of fiber and healthy fats to feel satisfied. A good example would be an apple with two tablespoons of almonds; baby carrots and hummus; or a slice of whole wheat bread topped with a crunchy leaf of lettuce, lean protein, and avocado. These choices are much healthier than any vending machine snack and they’ll leave you feeling more satisfied throughout the day, and less likely to “crash and burn.”

4. Circuit Train

When you make it to the gym for your scheduled workout (see tip #1), make every minute count. Have a personal trainer or friend help you create an intense circuit training routine that will keep you moving the entire time instead of standing around between sets. Circuit training consists of several exercises that can be done one right after the other. Not only will you get a great total body workout, but all the moving around will get your heart rate up and you’ll get a great cardio workout as well.

5. Multi-Muscle Exercises

Along the same lines as circuit training, multi-muscle exercises are a great way to cut your workout time in half. It’s easy: Simply perform two exercises at once instead of one at a time. An example would be a forward lunge coupled with a bicep curl—or do a squat with an overhead press. By combining two moves into one, you’re giving yourself an intense workout in a shorter amount of time.

6. Workout on Your Lunch Break

Most of us can eat our lunch in about 10 to 20 minutes, leaving you with about 40 to 50 minutes of spare time for a nice lunchtime trip to the gym or brisk walk. Having active breaks during the day will help boost your metabolism, clear your mind, and relieve stress, all making you more productive during the day. Keep your lunches on the healthy holiday track and enjoy savory mixed raw and unsalted/roasted nuts, dried cranberries, and handy pieces of fruit. When you nosh on quality food, you’ll avoid the snack monster later in the day.

7. Take the Stairs

All the little things we do throughout the day add up one step at a time: So take the stairs! You’ll burn those extra calories just getting to your destination each day.

8. Intensify Your Daily Duties

Your daily duties—like house cleaning, wrapping and hiding holiday gifts, or shoveling snow—can really add to your daily calorie burn! Doing laundry can count as exercise, too. Try to think of ways to make your housework a little more intense: instead of bending over to throw a load of laundry in, perform a squat on your way down and up. While you are waiting for the water to boil for dinner, perform a couple sets of pushups and lunges. These simple changes will help improve your health and, by strengthening your core muscles, will make everyday movements seem that much easier. The added bursts of energy will power you through the holidays, and make you feel vibrant and ready for the festivities.

9. Walk When You Can

There are several health benefits connected to walking (especially with snowshoes) including everything from heart health and strong bones to increased circulation and flexibility. You’ll save money on gas, not to mention doing your part to help the environment and your own “bottom line.” If you live too far from your destination and must drive, simply park as far away from the building as possible and walk. It’s amazing how a fast walk across the park in snowshoes can get your heart pumping.

10. Keep a Holiday Food Journal

It’s no secret that nutrition is one of the key ingredients to a super workout and optimum health throughout the holidays and all year long. Try keeping a food journal and write down everything you consume during the holiday season to gain insight into how much you’re eating and what your eating habits are. By identifying key factors and trigger points in your diet, you will get to know your body better and be more prepared for when a craving hits and how to deal with it. That will give you clear boundaries for when you can afford to eat that pumpkin pie or peppermint stick, or when you should steer clear.

Whether or not you’re a Scrooge when it comes to exercise and healthy eating, these tips are easy enough to make your holiday happy, healthy, and bright!

 

Beth Aldrich is a certified health coach through Columbia University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her new book, Real Moms Love To Eat: How To Conduct a Love Affair with Food, Lose Weight and Feel Fabulous, won a 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Award. Beth is also a green-living expert, writer, and public speaker.