The holiday season tests our temptations with the inevitable feasting and drinking that come with the social gatherings.
But you can indulge in some your favorite treats during gorging season without completely derailing your diet and workout goals.
Joe Masiello, director of Focused Personal Training Institute in New York City, told Daily Mail Online that you should set goals for January in order to keep your exercising on track during the winter months.
The number one rule Amy Shapiro, nutritionist and owner of Real Nutrition NYC, tells clients is to put away the stretchy pants during holiday functions to avoid overeating.
If you are going to drink, Irina Popa, owner of NYC Health & Nutrition, recommends to stay away from the sugary drinks because they will give you a massive hangover and pack on the calories.
Health and fitness experts recommend for people to indulge in some treats but still keep their diets in mind during the holidays. By signing up for a workout even in January, that can keep you following your fitness goals through the winter months (file photo)
How to schedule fitness into your winter
When November rolls around, the weather gets colder and you lose track of your fitness goals in favor of staying indoors.
‘The holidays start getting nearer and people tend to let themselves go,’ Masiello said.
But you can still stay on track with your fitness by following some of these tips.
1. Set a mid-winter goal
Masiello recommends booking an event such as running a 5K, bike race or group fitness class for January that will keep you motivated throughout the holiday season.
‘It tends to keep them focused and less likely to let it all go before the holidays,’ Masiello.
With a specific goal in mind, it will be easier to get up and head to the gym.
2. Month-to-month plan
A good way to motivate your fitness is to focus on a different end-game each month.
November is the last month of relatively mild weather before the cold sets in until spring. Take advantage of that: any day that it’s warm, try cycling or walking to work, go for a run outside, or plan to have a nice coffee in the park after your gym session as motivation. Knowing that you have just a few weeks left of this weather is great motivation to do some outdoor activities.
Once December rolls around, that active commute may not be so simple. But you can look forward to something else: December is secretly the best time of year to buy a gym membership. Gyms all have annual fiscal goals to meet, so negotiating a deal on your contract is easier as we near the end of the year. Buy the gym pass now so that the financial commitment will encourage you to head in for a workout instead of sitting on the couch.
With January comes the infectious panic to ‘kick the bad habits’ and get fit. Embrace it.
3. Get into the habit of short break workouts
A lot of people think they need to reserve at least an hour each day for a proper workout, but Masiello said that isn’t always necessary.
‘Consistency is more important than time,’ Masiello said.
It is OK to use busier days to only get in a quick ten-minute workout as long as it gets the blood flowing.
This is can be as simple as walking around the block, climbing up and down the stairs, or alternating body-weight squats and push-ups.
‘Walking stairs is one of the best things you can do because you’re using larger muscle groups,’ Masiello.
The short burst of exercise will help burn calories and get the blood pumping through the body.
4. Do this seven-minute workout designed by scientists every day
A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness combined aerobic and resistance exercises to create a seven-minute workout.
Researchers had 29 people aged 18 to 30 do the workout every day for six weeks.
They found that participants had a lower body mass index and decreased waistline after the study.
- 30 seconds per exercise
- 10-second break between
- Repeat until you reach seven minutes
The 12 exercises:
Consistency is more important than time
Joe Masiello, director of Focused Personal Training Institute, New York
- jumping jacks
- wall sits
- push ups
- step ups into chair
- triceps dips
- high knees running in place
- side planks
Avoid losing control of your diet
The holidays shouldn’t mean you completely break your healthy diet, but you can indulge in some of your favorite sweets with these helpful tips.
1. Plan your portion sizes
When you’re loading up your plate during a holiday feast, try to select a smaller size so you grab less food.
‘If they put too much on the plate then they will eat it all,’ Popa said.
Don’t give that space up for something you can have every day like a dinner roll. Treat yourself to something seasonal
Amy Shapiro, nutritionist and owner of Real Nutrition NYC
Shapiro recommends loading half the plate with vegetables, a quarter of the plate with protein and the other quarter with some indulgences.
‘Don’t give that space up for something you can have every day like a dinner roll,’ Shapiro said. ‘Treat yourself to something seasonal.’
She also recommends scoping out the food table before picking anything up. This keeps you from making snap decisions and indulging in something unnecessary.
2. What to drink
Sugary drinks such as sodas and mixed cocktails can add calories fast to the body.
‘It’s more calories we’re adding than a small pastry or a square of chocolate,’ Popa said.
Both Popa and Shapiro recommend to opt for a glass of wine, a lighter beer or a clean cocktail.
‘You can still drink,’ Shapiro said. ‘But don’t add any mixers.’
Avoiding sugary drinks will also curb the potential headache and hangover.
3. Eat a protein snack before a party or event
‘Have a protein snack by 5pm because then you won’t feel the need to eat,’ Popa said.
Protein makes the body feel fuller for longer because it takes longer for the body to digest it.
We eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths
Irina Popa, owner of NYC Health & Nutrition
Grabbing a Greek yogurt with fruit or hummus and vegetables can line the stomach so you don’t show up to a party hungry.
Popa said if you take time to prepare this snack in an appealing way, it will help you feel more satisfied while eating it.
‘We eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths,’ Popa said. ‘We feel like we are indulging when we arrange our snacks.’
Shapiro tells clients to never avoid multiple meals before a party in preparation of eating during the event.
‘That strategy always backfires,’ Shapiro said. ‘You show up too hungry and you can’t make appropriate choices.’
4. Avoid putting on the stretchy pants
Yoga pants and clothing items with an elastic waistline are tempting to wear when you know you’re about to eat a big meal.
But Shapiro said that can actually influence you to eat a lot more than you actually would if you were wearing something more constricting.
She recommends for people to wear jeans, pants or a skirt instead.
‘You’re going to stop when you feel full,’ Shapiro said.
Survive the holiday hangover
Grabbing another glass of eggnog at a holiday party might seem like a great idea in the moment, but you might regret it the next day while nursing a pounding headache.
But you can curb the hangover before it hits.
Before you go to sleep
Fiber cleans out the digestive tract and can absorb all the drinks you consumed that night.
This can help your stomach feel more like normal when you wake up the next day.
Snack on some pumpkin seeds or a high-fiber granola bar before bed to help with digestion.
Drinking a glass of water with lemon before bed helps hydrate the body after a night of booze.
Alcohol dehydrates you, so making sure to drink at least one glass of water before bed can help start the rehydration process.
- Take vitamin B supplements
Alcohol diminishes the store of vitamin B in the body, which is essential to mental and physical well-being.
A vitamin supplement before bed can add these nutrients back into the body while you’re sleeping.
After you wake up
- Sip on water for one hour
Keeping the body hydrated after a night of drinking is key to avoiding a pounding headache.
Let the body get used to how its feeling by only consuming water for the first hour.
‘People might think they need a greasy breakfast, but really your blood sugar is just low,’ Shapiro said.
A slice of toast with avocado and egg on top will give you the same benefits of that greasy breakfast without the added calories.
While a workout might not seem like a fun idea after a night of drinking, it can help the body recover.
Exercising can counteract the negative side effects people feel the next day.
Getting the blood pumping and sweat glands working can lessen the effects of the hangover.