It seems inevitable. As the holidays roll around all the parties and pastries add up to the holiday bulge that, come spring time, has to be worked off in time for swimsuit season. But it doesn't have to be this way. Follow these 10 tips to stay fit during the holiday season and have a head start on that bikini next year.
One of the biggest culprits of the holiday bulge is the constant partying. People go to parties and overindulge…they almost feel obligated to. But by eating a healthy meal before going to a party, people can avoid showing up ravenously hungry and then gorging on extra pie. Be sure to eat a meal that is balanced with plenty of protein and whole grains so that full feeling will last.
The human stomach is only so big, and as such, it has a finite volume. By drinking a glass of water or herbal tea before eating a meal, especially with all those calorie laden holiday favorites, the ability to pig out is cut down significantly. Then people can eat a small amount, which won't derail the year's diet plan.
The quickest way to diet disaster is restriction. A diet that is too restrictive, especially during the holidays, becomes impossible to live with. But by eating a small amount of something indulgent each day, such as chocolate, people don't feel so deprived. Opt for a high percentage of cacao, which will have less sugar and fat, but will have all the beneficial antioxidants that make chocolate healthy. Just be sure not to go crazy, an ounce or two is all that is needed.
No not a suitcase, but that is always fun. People often find themselves busier than ever during the holidays. All of the parties, shopping and cooking can really eat away at time spent in the gym. So if this happens, pack as much activity into the time available. Ben Greenfield, 2008 Personal Trainer of the year, recommends doing exercises that move as many body parts as possible at one time and to do those exercises as fast as possible to maximize time. Powerful, explosive movements will ensure the most calories burned in the shortest time.
Usually when people wake up in the morning they are thinking about the coffee pot or getting in the shower, but research has shown that by waking up and exercising first thing in the morning (think rolling out of bed to do crunches on the floor) that the body burns almost 20 percent more calories throughout the day. This doesn't mean to skip the regular workout during the day, but just 15 minutes in the morning will not only help get a person wake up, it will also provide an extra metabolism boost that is definitely a plus during the holidays.
This is a great idea throughout the year, but the best way to know where someone is consuming extra calories is to keep a food log. A simple notebook will work and books are available with nutritional information for nearly everything, if that info isn't on the food package (such as in the case of fresh produce). It is essential to keep track of the amount of food eaten as well, because portion size definitely matters. But in just a few days it will be easy to see where a person's diet can be improved.
This may seem a little odd, but the body needs fuel, so be sure to avoid skipping meals. Often during the holidays, people try and skimp on food throughout the day, such as skipping breakfast, because they will be pigging out at a party later that evening. The problem is that the body needs a steady supply of fuel all day long. So this will leave a person feeling sluggish all day, and then lead to overeating at the party. In fact, research has shown that those who skip breakfast are a staggering 450 percent more likely to be overweight. So eat a healthy diet throughout the day, and indulge responsibly at parties.
There are mountains of research that demonstrates that wine is good for people. But it can also be dehydrating. So to avoid becoming dehydrating and possibly having a hangover the following morning, drink two glasses of water for every glass of wine. This will help avoid dehydration, as well as avoiding intoxication because the liver will have time to process the alcohol in the wine before more is consumed.
One of the biggest contributors to weight gain is the stress hormone cortisol. But research suggests that listening to music helps to lower levels of cortisol in the body. The holidays are loaded with stress, from shopping to guests to cooking, it can all add up. So load some soothing music onto the MP3 player and listen while doing all those holiday tasks. The result is a direct effect on weight loss.
Eating spicy food has been shown to increase metabolism slightly. So find new ways of adding a kick to all those holiday recipes. Things like red pepper flakes, hot sauce and hot peppers are all great choices. Guests will appreciate the metabolism boost too.
The holiday season doesn't mean that all of the health and fitness goals a person works for all year have to go out the window. By following these 10 tips, people can stay on track and enjoy the holidays too.