fitness-friendly holiday tips

The holiday season takes us from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year's Day.   It’s full of fun times with family and friends.  But it doesn’t stop there, for fun food and tasty treats are usually in abundance for a five week stretch.  Now, I’ll be the first to say, “Go ahead and sensibly enjoy the holiday feasting.”  But, I’ll also be the first to suggest to make your strength and cardio training a top priority this holiday season.  You’ll feel better, manage the stresses from hectic  schedules, and prevent the common holiday weight gain that can creep up on you.

Strategies For Smart Holiday Fitness

1. Make your training routine a top priority in your schedule.   Cranking out a meaningful strength or cardio session doesn’t have to be a big ordeal.  Set out your exercise clothes and shoes and get your mp3 player ready to pump you up. You can listen to eight of your favorite songs in the time it takes to give your body a deserving workout.

2. On your cardio days, whether you swim; bike; run; or do group exercise, a 30-minute session of varying intensities can bring a higher metabolic impact versus a 60-minute session.  When time is precious, keep your cardio routine fast and effective.

3. Strength training also revs up your metabolism.   Similar to a cardio routine, 30-40 minutes of smart muscle training is more than adequate.  Perform compound (multi-joint) exercises that offer more work effort than isolated (single-joint) exercises.  If you can’t make it to your local gym, step outside for a plethora of bodyweight exercises, e.g., squats, lunges, pushups, planks.  Just about any exercise can be safely adjusted to your specific fitness level – no matter where the holidays take you.

4. Train a little harder on days of feasting.  After a challenging training session, your metabolism is revved up and your muscles are starving for nutrients to stimulate recovery.  When you have a holiday party or a family feast coming up, schedule a strong workout session in the morning to prime your body to take advantage of those extra calories coming in later that day.

Strategies For Smart Holiday Nutrition

1. Don't skip regular meals in hopes of balancing out your holiday eating.  This can negatively impact your metabolism and encourage over-eating when that holiday meal presents itself.  Stay true to your normal meals and keep them clean, and chances are that you won’t overdo it when feasting commences.

2. Include salads and cooked veggies in your holiday meals.   These low-calorie choices offer satiety while off-setting the indulgence in high-calorie foods.

3. Consume a healthy snack before heading over to an office party or family dinner.  This can help minimize the “ravenous appetite” that gets us in trouble at the serving table.  A shot of protein powder in cold water/milk or maybe some almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc. can do the trick.

4. Don’t be afraid to cut the dessert portions.  Many times the portion size of cakes, pastries, and pies are monstrous.  Take a stand and split your portion.  Sometimes we just want a taste of this or a taste of that, so take only what you want.

5. Always have a glass of water by your side in addition to your holiday beverage.  Alcohol, sodas, and punch can be high-caloric, so water can minimize the impact of high-calorie liquids.

With these friendly holiday tips, you can eat well and train hard.  And when the new year comes around, your strong fitness routine will help you take on new goals for 2013!

Stay primal!