Whether you like it or not, I think we can all agree that the holidays are the hardest time of year to maintain our fitness goals.
Keeping up with our busy holiday schedules filled with shopping, planning, traveling and attending parties with an endless supply of tempting baked goods can easily throw a wrench in our normal eating and workout routines.
It’s the perfect recipe for packing on the pounds and reversing some of your gains at the gym. Take it from someone who ate an obscene amount of leftover Christmas cookies last year and not-so mysteriously found herself with a few more pounds than what she started with.
If you’re like me and love to eat, the holidays are probably not the best time to start making aggressive weight loss goals. But there’s no reason you can’t enjoy yourself armed with a few healthy strategies to get you through the season.
Holiday Fitness Tips
Here are some tricks and tips that can help you stay fit, active, and healthy through the holidays!
1. Think About Maintaining Your Weight Instead of Losing
Reigning in our bad eating habits early can put us in a much better position to get started on those healthy New Year resolutions. And for me last year, it was actually after Christmas when I gained most of my weight and found it hard to lay off the sweets I became accustomed to eating.
Instead of eating like every meal is your last, aim to maintain your weight by choosing more protein and veggies whenever possible and less healthy holiday treats in moderation. If weight loss is one of your goals, get back to a stricter eating plan after the New Year.
2. Eat Before You Leave The House For Parties
Most holiday parties, as wonderful as they are, don’t always have the healthiest food options. Try eating some healthier whole foods at home before you leave the house. Even a protein bar can curb cravings and help you to feel full, which can help you from overindulging.
3. Don’t Skip Meals Or Try To Bank Calories
Skipping meals earlier in the day so you can eat more cheesecake at your next holiday party might look good on paper. But “banking” your calories usually leads to us binging later on. It can also cause blood sugar crashes that can leave us feeling sluggish and anxious. For some of us, it can even trigger headaches and migraines.
Skipping meals in the long run can trigger the body to lower its metabolism as a way to conserve the energy it needs to function. This can lead to weight gain even if we’re eating the same amount of food.
To keep your blood sugar balanced, eat higher protein meals and snacks regularly throughout the day. You can also aim to limit your sugar and carb consumption. Then when you want to indulge in a holiday treat like grandma’s sugar cookies later on, you won’t be inclined to eat the entire tray. And If you know you’re going to be out holiday shopping for a while, bring along some healthy snacks to keep you fueled.
4. Keep Track Of What You Eat So You Don’t Overindulge
Guesstimating the nutritional value of your holiday favorite indulges is a recipe for failure. Especially if you’re not the one cooking. And ignorance is bliss until your pants don’t fit.
Getting a general idea of the nutritional info of your favorite meals and snacks can empower you to make better food choices and control your portions.
A simple and effective way to do this is by downloading a nutrition app. They allow you to keep a running total of the nutritional info of what you’re eating each day. They can also help you monitor your choices based on if you want to maintain or lose weight. What’s most important though is that they can show you how quickly unhealthy food choices can add up.
For example, pecan pie is about 500 calories per slice of and cheesecake is 400 calories. They’re some of my holiday favorites that I’m definitely not going to pass up. But knowing their nutritional value
really puts things into perspective and encourages me to keep my portions under control. Instead of taking a big slice, a sliver can satisfy me. Sometimes just a few bites is all you need.
5. Drink Alcohol In Moderation
The holidays are a time to drink and be merry. But aside from the usual glass of wine or pint of beer, all those extra fancy and dazzling holiday cocktails are usually full of sugar and really pack some serious calories while causing bloat and weight gain. For example if you love your eggnog, 1 cup of non-alcoholic eggnog will set you back about 343 calories, 19 g fat per cup and 23 g of sugar. Take it up a notch and add a shot of brandy or rum and you’re over 400 calories for just one drink. The holidays only come once a year, so you should enjoy yourself. But be mindful of how much you’re drinking.
6. Don’t Forget To Stay Hydrated
Health experts recommend drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. And a 2010 study in the Journal of Obesity, found that drinking water before eating can be an effective tool to help you maintain and even lose weight. And this time of year we can use all the help we can get.
Plus if you’re drinking alcohol it’s important to match it with a glass of water for every cocktail to stay hydrated and prevent hangover symptoms.
7. Set Workout Goals, Make A Schedule, And Stick To The Plan
There’s no point in waiting until the new year to start crushing your fitness goals. Even if staying away from all the holiday treats might prove difficult, sticking with your fitness routine can help you burn extra calories while you build strength and endurance. It can also help relieve some stress. But traveling and added obligations can make it easy to blow off exercising if we don’t commit to a schedule. And the reduced hours of daylight don’t make it easy either.
Research has shown that the cognitive process of writing goals down effectively sears them into your brain. What starts out as little ideas then gets perceived as priorities by your brain. This means you’ll be more determined to stick to your workouts and achieve your fitness goals if you write them down.
My favorite way to achieve this and stay on track is with the Future fitness app. Future is based on the science of what motivates us as humans to stay on track with our fitness goals and provides you with an elite personal fitness coach. Your Future coach will create weekly, custom workout plans just for you! They’ll also motivate you by messaging you with daily check-ins, tips, and feedback before and after your workouts. And I’m proof it works.
8. Try Fun Seasonal Activities Like Ice-Skating
Staying active, even in the winter, doesn’t always mean hitting the gym.
From large cities to small towns there are plenty of opportunities to help you stay active in celebration of the holidays. To put you in the spirit of the season, try ice-skating, which can burn up to 500 calories per hour. One of the most iconic ice-skating rinks is New York’s own Rockefeller Center where you can skate while enjoying the splendor of their stunning Christmas tree and surrounding lights. Similarly you can skate in Philadelphia’s Dilworth Park with their stunning decked out City Hall as a backdrop. Check your local city’s listings for options.
9. Switch Up The Time Of Day You Work Out
Additional obligations and chores around the holidays can cut into our normal routine making it harder to get that exercise in. If you tend to workout later in the day, try switching your exercise routine to mornings so you get it done and out of the way first. You may have to wake up a bit earlier, but you might discover that you prefer it instead. Having your exercise clothes and sneakers prepped next to the bed can help put you in an exercise frame of mind for the morning.
10. Take A Walk Outside And Enjoy The Holiday Splendor
11. Wear A Fitness Tracker
Wearing a fitness tracker can help motivate you to get moving and learn how much activity you’re actually getting each day. By tracking things like calories, steps, heart-rate, sleep, and more, fitness trackers are a wonderful tool to help you reach your fitness goals. The “smart” ones can also be integrated with other health tracking apps on your smartphone and sync activity with Bluetooth.
I love using my Apple Watch. It integrates perfectly with my iPhone and Future fitness app. Plus, I got it for free when I signed up with Future. Score!
12. Participate In A Holiday-Themed Run Or Walk
Signing up for a running event like a 5k can keep you motivated to keep training while also doing good for charity. If you’re not in shape enough to do a race by the holidays, consider starting with a Couch To 5k Training plan. This can help keep your body active while setting you up for fitness success in the new year. If you’re not into running there are many holiday walk events as well.
13. Get A Fitness Coach To Help Keep You On Track. It’s A Game-Changer
All the fitness tools, tips, and tricks in the world aren’t effective if you don’t use them. To truly stay fit and keep active takes goals and motivation. For me, sticking with a workout routine has always been a challenge. That’s why getting an online fitness coach with the fitness app has been a game-changer. Especially for someone like me who isn’t too keen on going to the gym.
Having a Future fitness coach for the last 8 months has helped me kick excuses to the curb, drop weight, get stronger, and boost energy. I’ve also reached fitness goals and challenged myself in ways I would never do on my own.
14. Use Future Personal Training
Not just an app, not just a personal trainer. Future combines the best of personal training with the flexibility to work out anytime at home, in the gym, outside or on the road. Available in the Apple Store, here are just a few of the benefits of using Future.