The holidays are in full swing. There’s shopping to be done, cookies to be baked, halls to be decked, along with all your other usual daily activities. Something’s got to give, and it may just be your workout regimen.
It’s okay to give yourself a little vacation from exercising, especially at this time of year with so much else going on. But be careful. This is also the most treacherous time of year, with all kinds of treats available at work, at home, and in the stores. Not to mention, because you’re so busy, you may opt to eat out more often to save time. Even if you scale back your workouts, there are still some great holiday fitness tips you can follow to keep the pounds from creeping on over the holidays.
Make Good Choices
You’re out shopping, it’s busy, you don’t have time to go home and make a healthy meal, so you decide to eat at a restaurant. Don’t feel guilty about it, just choose the good things off the menu. It’s cold out, so have some soup as an appetizer. It will warm you up, and also help you feel full so you don’t overeat. Just choose a broth-based soup rather than a creamy one. Better yet, start your meal with a healthy salad, and go easy on the dressing.
This time of year brings out all the comfort food—casseroles, stews, pastas, and things smothered with cheese, gravies, and sauces. Save those dishes for home when you can control the ingredients and portions, and go for the healthier entrees when you’re eating out. A lot of restaurants offer healthy options on their menus, but if they don’t, ask if that chicken can be broiled or grilled instead of fried. Many places will accommodate special requests. Most importantly, skip the dessert. If you really want something sweet, grab one cookie from the kiosk in the mall rather than having that big slice of cheesecake.
It may be tempting to park as close as possible to the store or the mall when you’re out doing your holiday shopping. Besides, you may end up carrying a lot of bags, and who wants to haul them all the way across a huge parking lot? Well, here’s the thing—you don’t have to wait until you’re completely done shopping to put your things in the car.
Park a little farther out (there are probably more spaces available out there anyway), and walk briskly across the parking lot. Even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, it’ll get your heart pumping. Don’t believe it? Wear a heart rate monitor while you’re shopping to see just how all the activity is benefiting your body. When you’ve accumulated a few bags’ worth of purchases, take them out to the car, and then come back for more. Just be sure to park in a well lighted area, and to keep your shopping bags covered so as not to tempt thieves. You can get a walking workout in a little at a time while you get your shopping done. Who says multitasking is impossible?
Whether it’s an office potluck, or just someone bringing in some treats from home, there can be a lot of sweet and not-so-healthy temptations at work. Potlucks are fun, especially this time of year, and it’s really nice when someone takes the time to bake cookies or cake to share. But all that food lying around the office makes it very easy to mindlessly eat all day while you’re sitting behind a desk.
Stick to your usual eating regimen, whether it’s three meals a day, or five to six smaller meals. If you want to indulge in something someone brought from home, work it into your meal, taking the extra calories into account, rather than eating between meals and just adding to your daily caloric intake. If the temptation is very difficult for you to resist, keep healthy snacks available, carrot or celery sticks with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or have a small handful of nuts such as almonds or walnuts, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol. You’ll still get the satisfaction of snacking without all the sugar and calories. Finally, remember to take breaks, get up from your desk, and walk a little.
The most important thing to remember is not to beat yourself up if you do gain a couple of pounds over the holidays. When they’re over, get right back up on the treadmill, and get yourself back on a regular workout schedule. You’ll be back on track in no time.