Are you already strategizing your plan of attack to stay fit this holiday season? If you’re like us, you’re probably planning to save your calories for holiday parties, negate what you eat and drink by adding more workouts to your calendar, and blast those sugar cookie calories by spending even more time on the treadmill.
On the flip side, you may be planning to eliminate any speck of holiday cheer by sipping on water while your friends drink rum eggnog, going to spin class instead of your bestie’s festive soiree, and preparing steamed veggies and brown rice for your Thanksgiving dinner.
Or, if you want to lose weight but haven’t started a fitness program yet, you’re probably planning to say eff it until New Year’s Day—except for the part where you hate on yourself after every drink or bite.
Well, we think your plan sucks!
There are much more simple, realistic and enjoyable ways to stay fit or kick off your weight loss plan during the holiday season. Here are three:
Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy the Holidays
Rather than compensating for what you eat by adding more workouts to your calendar, starving yourself before every party and then beating yourself up over everything you put in your mouth this holiday season, we recommend giving yourself a gift: permission to enjoy everything the season has to offer (in moderation, of course).
The most realistic holiday fitness strategy includes planning to attend holiday parties, enjoying your fave festive treats, and making the most of time spent with your friends and family. Just try to make good choices. Here’s why: Depriving yourself of holiday treats and sips now will only result in a hate-filled-sugar-cookie-dough-fueled binge later, and overscheduling yourself at the gym to negate what you ate will only add to rather than reduce stress—you know, the very thing that causes you to overeat or indulge in poor food choices in the first place and also one of the main reasons our bodies retain calories as fat regardless of how much, or little, we eat! There are only so many minutes in the day, so give yourself permission to miss a few workouts or do shorter workouts to attend parties and family get-togethers. Just make sure you are working out smarter rather than harder.
Spend More Time With Friends and Family and Less Time in the Gym
Instead of doing extra cardio or more workouts, we recommend mixing shorter but more intense workouts (30-minute high-intensity intervals followed by 30-minute fat-burning cardio or an hour of full-body circuit training) into your schedule.
It’s also important to get your exercise out of the way as early in the day as possible so you can participate in impromptu holiday activities with friends, family and co-workers without sacrificing your workout.
Savor Holiday Food and Drinks
You should definitely enjoy the pumpkin cheesecake, cornbread stuffing, hot toddies or whatever’s on your holiday indulgence list. The trick is to be selective: Eat mindfully and stay hydrated so you can enjoy the occasional indulgence without wrecking your fitness plan. Always eat real, unprocessed foods first. Don’t try to reserve calories for a party because you’ll only binge on higher calorie foods once you’re there. Besides, your body needs the right fuel to properly deal with (i.e. process) your indulgences.
Enjoy this holiday season by making good choices, practicing moderation and sticking with a lighter exercise program. The fact that you are being conscious of what you eat and drink puts you ahead of most people already. Think about how sweet that’ll be when New Year’s Day rolls around and you’re already acting on your fitness resolution!