by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
One of the biggest feasts of the year is upon us. And, there’s more to come as we enter the holiday season. Here are some healthy practices to tuck under your belt so it continues to buckle …
You invest energy and time throughout the year to fitness and healthy living. Day after day, you journey along the path to wellness. Of course, there are detours– inevitable setbacks from fatigue, injuries, and that new flavor ice cream you discovered. However, nothing compares to the countless temptations presented during a season filled with friends, family, and food.
T’is the season for visiting, gift and food shopping, and (let’s admit it) eating. With your time thus consumed, it is more difficult to squeeze in fitness. The time you have is spent indulging in a selection of food to which the media dedicates entire publications and shows. You can run/cycle/swim/aerobicize, but you can’t hide.
Fit in Fitness
Goodies and stress abound. Especially this time of year, you cannot afford to miss your workout with its therapeutic and calorie-burning perks. You also need the immune-boosting benefits of a good workout; cold and flu thrive in the winter wonderland with their own ferocious appetite for the stressed, weary, and sleep-deprived. Consider these tips for fitting in fitness:
Revise your fitness schedule. Plan ahead to accommodate the insurgence of social commitments, holiday traditions, and festive events. This assures you’ll have time to rejuvenate at the Center. On a particularly hectic week, you may wish to visit the Center more often but for a decreased duration, or vice-versa.
Change your exercise routine. It may not seem the ideal time to switch up your workout. However, joining a new Group Fitness class or trying a different piece of exercise equipment might be the motivation needed right now. You’ll be anxious to hit the Exercise Floor or get to class so the newly learned exercises and moves stay fresh. It’s easy to allow long intervals between a routine you’ve done all year. Try doing that after your first Zumba class. Not so easy and who would want to!
Multitask. Why make a choice between fitness and visiting with long-distance relatives? Invite them to join you as a guest at the Center. They are out of their element as well and might welcome an opportunity to enjoy a healthy workout.
After a big meal, don’t retire to the living room. Bundle up and take a refreshing walk together. Kick around some leaves or toss a ball. You’ll create fun memories that go beyond the kitchen. Besides, there’re probably one or two guests you’d rather tackle with a football than chat with one-on-one.
Power up your shopping trips. You’re probably in a rush regardless, so pick up your pace as you peruse the aisles, park at a distance for a parking-lot sprint (you won’t get a close spot anyway), and wear sneakers to minimize fatigue.
Oh-and-ah over decorations and lights during a crisp walk instead of a drive-by. Burn off as you bake with some simple strengthening and stretching exercises in between batches in the kitchen. Shop online and use saved travel time for a workout.
Make It Count
This applies to exercising and eating. Get the most from both with some smart thinking.
Focus on weight training. Build and maintain muscle mass, which helps burn calories. Strength training builds muscles that help burn fat in the long-term. Cardio exercise burns in the short-term. The next several weeks are probably filled with dieting dilemmas, so think long-term burn. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. (See “Healthy Habits Trump Metabolism” at www.fitnessandwellnessnews.com/fitness/healthy-habits-trump-metabolism/.)
Include cardio workouts as well, but make strengthening your holiday fitness goal for the best fat-burning effect. If you don’t have time for cardio, increase the intensity of your weight session to benefit from the aerobic nature. A personal trainer can share tips on how to maximize a weightlifting session for the best-rounded workout.
Fitness Manager RJ Pietrucha gives this generous advice, “Don’t worry about Thanksgiving dinner. If you exercise regularly and stay active, you can literally eat whatever you want on Thanksgiving and it won’t set you back at all!” “Except for maybe an upset tummy,” he cautions.
Don’t deny yourself dessert. Often, people stress themselves with an all-or-nothing way of eating. For them, sweets and other treats are either off limits or in abundance. Whether it’s a festive season or any other day of the year, allow yourself treats. They can be acceptable and healthy.
A little planning is helpful. If you know dinner will include Mom’s irresistible homemade stuffing, skip the store-bought pumpkin pie at your work luncheon. In other words, don’t waste calories on a splurge that isn’t worth it. Save them for something better. You’ll anticipate the little treats along the way, and feel more satisfied when you eat them. (If you absolutely must go for that pie, hit the Center later in the day for a quick calorie-burning session before piling the dinner plate.)
The mental association between holidays and food is another common downfall. Just because it’s there, you don’t have to eat it. Some feel they should stuff themselves while they can, lest they leave the holiday season somehow deprived. Pies, cookies, and candies are available year-round. Enjoy them in moderation –whether on New Year’s Eve or an average Tuesday.
Don’t sit at the dining room table with the idea of starting the New Year on a strict diet. Most such absolute resolutions fail. Your hard-earned results from this year will be jeopardized. Besides, you’ll never want to begin on that journey of deprivation you promise yourself with every forkful this season.
Focus on sharing time with family and friends. Be thankful for all that makes your unique life rich. It’s amazing how full you’ll suddenly feel, and you’ll not have eaten one bite.
Enjoy your festivities. Practice mindfulness so your senses truly come alive with each joyous occasion. Recognize the many personalities around your buffet. Embrace the positive of each while they are in your presence. Fit in your workout, perhaps a modified version before the rush of your day. Indulge in the moment, notice each breath, and savory every delicious bite. The Center (with accommodating hours) is your base to rejuvenate, and, sure, work off all those holiday stresses and splurges.
“Fitness Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Weight Gain,” by Hugo Rivera at www.about.com.
“Holiday Fitness for Families,” by Catherine Holecko at www.about.com.
“Holiday Season Fitness,” by Catherine Holecko at www.about.com.
“Stress, Depression and the Holidays: 10 tips for coping,” at www.mayoclinic.com.