How to Stay Fit and Healthy During the Holidays

December 16, 2013

healthy holidaysThe holiday season is summed up with friends, family, parties, peppermint, and food, lots of food. The latter isn’t the best for your medical weight loss plan, but you can get through the holiday season unscathed and ready to tackle the new year on weight loss track.

Stick to an exercise routine. Just because your schedule may be tighter with the addition of holiday parties doesn’t mean you should abandon your exercise routine completely. A one-hour workout takes up just 4 percent of your day. If you really can’t squeeze it in, add short bursts of physical activity throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, intentionally park in the back of the parking lot, or take a short walk during your lunch break. A study published by the American College of Sports Medicine found you can get an effective workout in about 20 minutes through circuit training, alternating short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by recovery. Consult your physician to see if this type of exercise program would be effective for your needs.

Don’t go overboard at parties. Between chips and dip, the main course, and endless amounts of baked goods, you can consume well over your recommended daily caloric needs in one sitting at a holiday party. Choose one appetizer and one dessert and call it day. Try to bring the conversation away from the food. Standing next to a bowl of chips during conversation spells trouble for your waistline and promotes mindless eating.

Limit the alcohol. Warm holiday drinks like hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps are tempting to keep you warm and relaxed on frigid winter nights, but they can send your calorie and fat consumption through the roof to the tune of 380 calories. Opt for Bailey’s Irish Cream and hot coffee to keep it skinny at 120 calories. Sip it slowly so you won’t be tempted to go back for another. Not only will you save calories, but you’ll also savor the delicious winter flavors.

Stay hydrated. Always have a glass of water in hand during meals or at holiday parties. Not only will you stay hydrated, which is important for your body to function, but you likely won’t eat as much. Just because the temperatures drop doesn’t mean your body needs less water. Stop between bites for a sip. You’ll eat more slowly and feel fuller! At home, put a big pitcher of cool water on your dinner table so you can easily refill your glass.

Enjoy it! Accept that you’re going to eat more than you normally would during the holiday season. You won’t get anywhere by beating yourself up and feeling depressed, and depriving yourself of the holiday traditions you love, like baking cookies, may ultimately lead to a binge down the road. Instead, focus on everything in moderation. If you do overindulge, forgive yourself, and get back on track.

Remember what the holidays are about. Of course, the food, gifts, and decorations are festive, but the holidays are really about spending time with the people who mean most to you. Keep the meaning at the forefront of your mind, and you won’t be as tempted to overindulge throughout the season.

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