Eat, drink and be merry, they said. It'll be fun, they said. After all, 'tis the season, right? Ehhh... not so fast. This time of year can be full of so many things to do and tasks to accomplish (aka holiday stress). Add to that the fact that there are indulgences looming at every turn and holiday parties that offer eggnog, cookies and all things sugary and equally delicious. It's no wonder we cave in to those sweet temptations.
But you have worked to hard to get your butt to the gym every day and are doing so well health and fitness-wise. Why throw that all away? Good news. You don't have to let the holiday fun mess with your fitness gains and weight-losses. There are little things you can do every day that will allow you to stay healthy throughout the holiday season (and even let you give in to occasional indulgences). After all, you are in control of what you eat, your workout schedule, and your frame of mind- no matter what time of year it is. Remember, you are the only one who can control how this plays out. And guess what, we even encourage you to go for that cup of cocoa with whipped cream topping. It's all about moderation, my friends!
Eat a Big Breakfast
Work out in the A.M.Studies show that those who eat high calorie meals at breakfast have a higher drop in the hunger hormone (ghrelin) than those who eat light (or not at all) in the morning. Also, if you want something high in sugar, eat it earlier in the day so that you will have plenty of time throughout the day to burn it off and use it as energy instead of storing it as fat. Extra bonus... adding in something sweet with the high calorie breakfast helps to curb your sweet-tooth for the rest of the day, allowing for greater weight loss. Ultimately, eating a hearty breakfast will keep you satisfied throughout the day and help avoid temptations for sweet high-cal snacks later on.
One study found that a 45-minute vigorous cardio exercise bout increases metabolic rates lasting up to 14 hours, ultimately burning and additional 190 calories. Aside from those stats, getting the workout off your plate leaves for less of a chance to get really tied up toward the end of the day and make excuses for how you simply do not have the time to fit in a workout for the day. Not to mention, getting a workout in first thing in the morning is a great way to set the productivity track for your day.
Modify Your Workouts- Time/ HIIT workouts
The only bad workout is the nonexistent one. With holiday obligations you may see a shift from your typical workout routine but if that is the case, just go with the flow and try to maximize your time in the gym but doing quick circuits and supersets so you can get in and out. HIIT workouts are a saving grace during the holidays, allowing you to get in a quick, 10-minute sweat session that alternates doing interval training on a cardio machine with 30-second bursts of running and walking. If you don't have time for the gym, go for a jog to clear your head and burn some calories while you're at it.
Make time to take little breaks throughout the day to focus on your breathing- even for just 1 minute increments. My Apple Watch vibrates to remind me throughout the day and also pulses during the breathing increment so that I can set my breathing pace accordingly. It is great to have the reminder.
Drink that Cup O' Joe
We don't encourage relying on this one solely, however, if you are feeling that lull in work productivity in the late morning, take a coffee break to perk you up and boost your calories burned by 12% up to a few hours later. Be aware that the safest level of caffeine consumption is 400 milligrams a day.
Plan Ahead and Eat Smart
As discussed in our previous blog post, meal prepping and planning is a great way to stay on track with your healthy diet and is most crucial during this busy season of the year. We often use the excuse that we got to busy to prep and it is just a matter of getting more creative and finding meals that take less time. Prep, nonetheless.
When it comes to dish-making, try to seek out healthy alternatives to some of your traditional holiday favorites. With a vast array of healthy recipes out there, there's no reason you can't find one that will not only taste good but keep your diet on track! Here is a great resource for healthy food blogs to check out!
Consider What Herbs & Spices You are Using
This is a fun one! Did you know that herbs such as dill, basil and chives contain kaempferol which stimulates the production of your thyroid hormones (thus boosting the metabolism)? Also, recipes containing chili peppers or spices made of them (think chili rub and paprika) have been shown to increase your metabolism for 4+ hours. Look for recipes specifically containing these items in them!
12 Hour Time Food Frame
Be mindful of eating within a 12 hour window. If you have breakfast at 7a.m. you should not eat anything in the evening past 7p.m.
Go to Bed Early
This one is pretty straightforward but basically, when you are tired, your body craves more carbs. Also, the less sleep you get, the slower the rate at which your body processes calories from glucose. Simply put... this is not a good situation to get yourself in to. Don't even get me started on the reasons why sleep will help curb your stress levels...
Prepare Your Kitchen
Stock up on fruits and raw vegetables (cut and store in individual containers/baggies right away to make it easier to eat), longer-lasting produce, avoid buying in bulk (you will eat the food twice as fast), move smaller plates and bowls to the lower shelves, move bills or stress triggers out, store the snack foods in a place that is not visible.
Drink Lots of Water
When you are craving the cocoa, grab a glass of cold water instead and always stay hydrated throughout the day. This will curb hunger pangs, keep you functioning at your best, and will help to avoid overdoing it on the spiked rum cider. Studies have also shown that drinking around a pint of water daily boosts your metabolic rate by 30% for 60 minutes.
Make sure you are eating small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. Starving yourself in anticipation of a party later in the evening is a sure way to make sure you consume way more than you would if you were well-nourished. Eat little snacks (nuts, hummus, raw vegetables) and stay really well hydrated. Moderation is key so allow yourself to indulge a bit and try that chocolate cookie, for goodness sake!
Use Guests as Workout Buddies
When you have guests in town, don't feel obligated to forgo the gym altogether. Invite your family member(s) along or get out of the house and take a walk or do an activity that involves physical activity such as ice skating, skiing or, heck, if there's enough snow, build a snowman!
So many people just throw in the towel come December and write it off as the inevitable, vowing to pick things back up as a New Years Resolution. Follow these tips to stay on track throughout the holiday season, and avoid backtracking with your health and fitness. It is a lot easier to maintain than to start from square one.