Fitness Magazine

6 Tips To Stay Fit Over the Holidays: Christmas Doesn’t Have To Mean Weight Gain!

By Kenin Bassart @Constantramble

Let’s be honest here, indulging during the holidays is pretty much a non-negotiable. Christmas ham. Cocktail parties with bulging cheese plates. Eggnog-fueled caroling runs. December is ripe with parties, meals and snacks that can fill you with the holiday spirit and way too many calories. But staying in shape during the holidays doesn’t mean forgoing all your favorite traditions and activities. Below are 6 tips from the 12 Minute Athlete to keeping fit and healthy to ensure you enter 2016 in your best shape.

Eat Only Your Very Favorites

One of the most important things you can do to avoid packing on unnecessary pounds around the holidays is to avoid becoming of those people that mindlessly shoves food in their mouth without thinking about the taste.

Because if you’re going to indulge in holiday food, you want make sure it’s absolutely only the best.

Like that slice of your grandmother’s homemade pie with a scoop of mouthwatering ice cream on top. Or some of those mashed potatoes that your mom makes that you know are loaded with butter but that you dream of all year long. Or a few of those cookies that you made with your family with lots of sugar, butter, and love.

That’s the kind of food that’s worth indulging in. Your absolute favorites—the ones that give you warm and happy memories and you only have once or twice a year.

Those stale store-bought cookies, on the other hand? Or the mashed potatoes made from a box? Or the completely flavorless chocolate candies? They just aren’t worth it. Stick to your favorites, and you’ll have no problem maintaining and staying fit this holiday season.

Keep Working Out

One of the most important things you can do to stay fit over the holidays is to keep working out as usual.

I know, I know, everyone is extra busy over the holidays. You’re probably traveling more than you would otherwise, and more likely than no don’t have consistent access to a gym. But that’t why, more than ever, it’s crucial to plan a few quick circuit workouts that you can do with limited time and equipment.

If you do end up traveling this time of year, I highly recommend investing in a simple jump rope because it’s one of the absolutely best workout tools and can easily be tucked into a suitcase.

Yet regardless of whether you have equipment or are doing your workouts in your parents’ basement with no equipment whatsoever, continuing to work out regularly over the next month will help your metabolism stay high and keep you from losing any muscle you’ve gained previously this year. And that means even if you do eat a few too many Christmas cookies this season, you’ll bounce back in no time once the temptations are over.

Load Up On Veggies

No matter what else you’re eating, make a point of packing your plate full of vegetables no matter what.

Eat a big salad, roast some Brussels sprouts or cauliflower with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt, or cut up some fresh veggies to munch on along with your meal.

Not only will this habit help to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function at peak performance, it will also help you get—and stay—full, since eating that many veggies will naturally result in you consuming less of the unhealthy, higher calorie foods. It’s a great way to still get to eat the more indulgent holiday foods while not going over your calorie limit too much.

Understand the Effects of Alcohol

With so many social gatherings over the holidays, many people end up drinking more alcohol than normal. And while I’m not going to tell you not to drink (you are free to make your own decisions on that one), it is a good idea to go into the holidays understanding what the effects of drinking more will do to your body.

Because yes, alcohol does contain calories, but that’s not where most people get into trouble. The real problem arises when you have a drink or two and all your willpower suddenly goes out the door. 

Whereas without alcohol you probably would have avoided the cookie plate altogether, drinking changes that, suddenly making that plate seem more appealing than ever (yes, even if they’re just crappy store-bought cookies), and essentially puts you in a “oh what the hell, it’s the holidays) type of mindset.

So what can you do about it? If you know you’re bound to have a few drinks, try and plan ahead and make sure you eat enough healthy food so that you’re not starving later, which inevitably leads to making bad decisions. If you have any control over the food (as in a potluck situation or if it’s your own gathering), make sure to have healthy snacking options around like crunchy fresh veggies and hummus, popcorn, or nuts.

Oh, and it goes without saying that those fancy holiday drinks tend to be really high in calories. Although they’re fun and festive, try not to have more than one and mostly stick to wine and spirits mixed with soda water to keep yourself from drinking too many extra calories (this will help you avoid hangovers as well since sugary drinks make hangovers way worse).

Have a Couple Go-To Healthy Meals

Even if you plan on indulging at certain special meals and parties (as you should), having a few go-to healthy meals can keep you eating healthy most of the time.

For example, I always like to make sure to start my day with a healthy filling meal (I do this year round but especially around any sort of holiday or vacation). This is usually steel cut oatmeal with flax seeds and berries and an egg scrambled with egg whites and spinach, or if I’m feeling more adventurous, protein pancakes.

For lunch, I almost always try to have something packed with veggies like a big salad or roasted veggies with quinoa and some sort of protein. I also continue to eat throughout the day, making sure I don’t get overly hungry (if I don’t do this I will eat the entire plate of cookies later).

By having simple, healthy meals decided in advance, you’ll actually end up eating mostly healthy throughout the day, even if you do have a piece of pumpkin pie later. It makes a bigger difference than you might think!

Trust Yourself

If you’re worried about gaining weight and losing all the progress you’ve made so far this year over the holidays, know that you’re not alone.The holidays used to make me anxious, too, and I worried that a few big meals and a few holiday parties would completely derail my hard earned progress, and worse, that I’d get used to eating that way and not return to my healthy habits once the new year rolled around.

Now, I trust myself enough to know that the second the fun holiday meals are over, I won’t want to see another sugar cookie for months, and my body will actually crave healthy, clean food.So even if you go a bit overboard at times this holiday season, try tweatyourself and don’t overly sweat it.

Because if you follow the advice above and remember that the goal is to stay fit and healthy for life (rather than to just look good right now), you’ll bounce back just fine—and enjoy it more as a result.

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