The holidays are in full swing! Christmas parties at work, family gatherings, and a host of other events are filled with sweet treats — I love the holidays and the spirit that they bring, but my waistline doesn’t love the sweet treats (or maybe it loves them too much).
Every year, the holidays present us with the challenge of maintaining a healthy weight or maintaining a weight-loss program. I’m going to share with you how to make workouts a priority with a busier schedule, when and when not to indulge, and staying motivated throughout the holidays.
This time of year is my favorite by far. It’s all about family from far and near getting together and spending time with one another, so managing to fit in workouts often becomes very difficult. At first, to address this I decided to schedule my workouts early in the day and late in the day. I soon realized that by the end of the day I was too exhausted to set foot in any gym. I then decided to schedule my workouts earlier in the morning.
Five am wakeup calls were difficult, but eventually they became routine (along with coffee). However, in the interest of sanity, when unable to do the 5-am workouts I will do circuits of jump squats, ab crunches, jumping jacks, and push-ups for 10 to 15 minutes to get an aerobic workout in.
Circuits quickly get your heart rate up and burn a lot of calories. I recommend them a few times a day if you can’t make it to the gym. Taking the time to make sure you feel and look your best makes the holidays more enjoyable and almost (we’ll get to that later) guilt free.
Let’s be honest: Holiday parties are about gifts, relaxation and SWEETS. Just remember, do everything in moderation! On average, a medium-sized cookie is between 40-90 calories, so have one, but grab a piece of fruit too!
Also, consider choosing dark chocolate, which is better for you than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has been proven to decrease blood pressure and includes antioxidants that help keep your body healthy and more youthful looking. Additionally, dark chocolate has fewer calories than milk chocolate (so no Häagen Dazs)!
So go ahead and feel free to indulge in a few pieces of dark chocolate — just not the whole box. If you see dried fruit like apricots or pineapple, grab a handful. They’re healthy and taste just as good as sweets.
For a delicious high-protein snack, try hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans and walnuts. Also, skip the pop and eggnog; instead, try water and fruit juice or, if you want a little kick, try clear liquors — they possess fewer calories. Your body will definitely thank you later!
One trick of the trade is to first fill up on water and dried fruits and then have a sweet or two. The fillers, especially water, give a feeling of fullness that prevents you from craving more sweets.
Maintaining healthy eating and exercising during a time that everyone else is focusing on other things can be tough. I’ve found three great ways to stay motivated while pursuing goals: 1) build a roadmap, 2) imagine your outcome, and 3) surround yourself with positive people.
When you’re building your roadmap, write down all of your goals and place them where you can view them daily. Every day imagine what your end result will be! I imagine myself in a wonderful little, strapless white dress that contrasts beautifully against my skin and healthy toned physique.
That picture motivates me when I’m doing jump squats while my daughter and son watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas; I happen to love that movie. That image also guides my every action throughout the day.
Lastly, surround yourself with positive people who have goals similar to your own. When you fall, you’re going to need a great support system to get you back on track! This functions in two ways: 1) that supportive group will constantly remind you what you should be doing, not by their words but by actions, and 2) they’ll remind you gently of how to be successful, because they’ll understand your struggles.
The average North American gains between seven and 10 pounds this season, but that’s not you! Especially if you plan out your days so you have time to work out. If you can’t make it to the gym, try circuit training at home.
Be sure to remember “everything in moderation.” You don’t have to deprive yourself of all sweet treats; just limit yourself to one or two, and enjoy your holidays. Hold yourself accountable by finding a fun and positive workout buddy.
And lastly, visualize a way to stay motivated so that you can continue to enjoy many holiday seasons to come!
Latrice Marie welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her at www.facebook.com/pages/Latrice-Ma rie/489150201109966.