Here we are again in the midst of the holiday season. This joyful time of year often brings a feeling of comfort and gladness to our hearts. But for those of us who desire to follow a healthy lifestyle, it can also bring frustration and anxiety. Holiday dinners and parties revolve around calorie laden food and drinks. A schedule filled with family, friends, and festivities, exercise often gets pushed aside. Many of us simply decide to eat what we want and return to our healthy regimens in the New Year. But why should we wait until January 1st to start a new year?
Any day of the year can be the start of a new year. You don’t have to wait until you’ve gained five or more pounds from the holidays. Making the effort to exercise and eat well throughout the holiday season can not only prevent weight gain, but can also help reduce the stress which often accompanies this time of year. Exercise and stress don’t tolerate each other very well. Therefore, exercising regularly nips stress in the bud and will lead to a much more relaxed state of mind throughout the holiday season.
However, exercise and healthy eating are best friends. If you exercise, you will most likely eat healthy. If you eat healthy, you will feel better and most likely exercise. Together they work hand in hand to help keep you on a healthy track.
Despite the mouth-watering temptations, there is no reason to swear off holiday parties all together. Even with indulging in some holiday goodies, regular exercise will greatly reduce the likelihood that you’ll gain weight. That’s because not only do you burn off many of the calories you take in during your workout, but you also boost your metabolism for several more hours after exercise. Exercise builds lean muscle mass, which uses fat as its main source of fuel. Therefore, the more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn at rest.
Still overwhelmed? Check out these tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy regimen:
- Exercise in the morning. Work up a sweat before being tempted by all the goodies. The longer you wait, the greater the chances your motivation to exercise will dwindle.
- Choose food wisely. Chances are many of the foods you eat are more of a tradition than an actual desire to eat them. For each food item, ask yourself if you truly want it. Think about what really makes the holiday for you. If stuffing is the first thing that comes to mind, then skip the mashed potatoes. Or if you can’t resist a slice of pumpkin pie, skip the cookies. Don’t feel the need to cram everything onto your plate just because it’s there.
- Use a smaller plate. Many dinner plates these days are oversized. Use a smaller plate to avoid taking too much food. If you are truly still hungry after your first helping, then go for seconds.
- Don’t forget about dessert. Dessert is part of the holidays and it’s okay to enjoy your favorites. Just remember to save room if you plan on having it to avoid eating too much.
- Get out and play. Invite everyone to go outside to play catch with the football or take walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Not only does this burn calories, it also helps your body digest the full meal you just consumed.
- Don’t go to a party hungry. Have a small, healthy snack such as a handful of almonds or a cup of broth-based soup prior to the party and you won’t feel the need to overindulge during social hour.
- Get back on track. If you do overeat on a particular day (we all do!), get back on track as soon as possible. Try to get a small workout in to help your body burn calories. Drink plenty of water to help cleanse your system. In the grand scheme of things, one bad day won’t make or break your health efforts, but several bad days can.
By implementing the little tricks that work best for you into your daily regimen, you will be more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, if you think about how much weight you won’t gain over the holidays, how you won’t have to start a new program come January, and how much better you’ll feel about yourself as the holiday season goes by, you’ll be more motivated to stay on track.