Working Out Through the Holidays

By Nicole Flanagan

With the cold weather rolling in and the days getting shorter it seems like we all have less time on our hands. With an already jam-packed schedule we tend to skip out on workouts (or stop exercising entirely) and by the time we get to the New Year we all feel compelled to get back to that pre-holiday shape. This year let’s try to do things a little different. Instead of slowing down on the exercise routine and abandoning your diet completely, keep up the good work and by the time the New Year gets here you will be starting off on a positive foot.  Pay attention to what you eat at your holiday parties and keep your butt moving through the last leg of the holiday season. Here are just a few tips to keep you looking and feeling your best!

  • Keep Moving: Without realizing it we sometimes slow down on our exercise routines.  This time make a steadfast commitment to workout.  Just like you make your work schedule, take time to pencil in a workout.  If you end up missing a workout make it up as soon as possible. Remember it is easier to stick to a fitness program than it is to start one after months of inactivity.
  • Take your workout outdoors: Most people will bring their workouts inside when the weather starts to get chilly.  Instead, take advantage of what the weather has to offer.  Bundle up a bit and take a walk, you’ll have to walk a bit faster to keep yourself warm while also burning more calories.
  • Travel Smart: Don’t abandon your workout because of traveling for work or family holiday parties.  If you are on a business trip try staying at a hotel that has a gym.  You don’t need a whole room full of exercise equipment to get a workout done.  If gym access is not available get yourself moving with a light jog around the block and some abdominal crunches and push-ups.  It is always better to do something than do no exercise at all.
  • Keep yourself hydrated: You won’t drink as much water because you don’t feel as thirsty.  Remember that dry indoor air can be more dehydrating that running outside.  Make sure to keep drinking plenty of fluids during the day and especially during and after a workout.
  • Eat hot and HEALTHY: Most people throw out those diet guidelines for the winter and fill up on homemade chili and beef stews.  Start your meals off with a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup instead.  Not only is chicken soup good for you, studies have shown that people who ate it as an appetizer consumed less calories throughout the entire meal.
  • Go Nuts!  At the office holiday party instead of pigging out on the baked goods, candy and chips grab a handful of mixed nuts and munch on it slowly.  Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fat which makes you feel more full and therefore less likely to fill up on empty calorie foods.
  • Drink Better: Eggnog is a diet disaster.  Instead of consuming half your day’s calories in one drink go for a glass of red wine or a rich tasting dark beer.  Drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink.  This will keep you hydrated and reduce your calorie intake.
  • Eating Out: When eating out try to avoid that “too full” feeling that usually comes at the end of a meal. One pasta plate at a restaurant is enough to easily feed two people.  Instead of devouring everything yourself, offer to split a low fat appetizer, a salad and a meal.  By doing this you will eat less and also save a couple bucks.
  • Stay Healthy: One of the biggest set backs during the winter months is getting sick.  Catching a cold can set you back a week depending on how sick you get.  Work toward improving your immunity by keeping up on your cardio. A recent study at the University of South Carolina in Columbia found that adults who get regular moderate exercise have significantly fewer colds. If you already have a cold, moderate exercise probably won’t make it worse, but consult your doctor if you have possible flu symptoms such as fever, muscle aches or heavy coughing.
  • Go to Sleep: Missing out on sleep as stress and time demands grow can result in lower virus fighting “natural killer” cells in our bodies.  Sleep gives your body the recovery time it needs to stay healthy and to keep your immune system working at its best.
  • Eat your Vegetables! Eat plenty of carotenoid rich vegetables like winter squash, carrots and pumpkin. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, a diet high in carotenoids can raise your immune-cell count by a third, which will help ward off illness and keep your fitness level intact

Trying to stay healthy through the holidays can be tough, especially when everyone brings out their favorite pies and dessert goodies.  Remember that the holidays come around once every year so its not like you are going to miss out on something if you don’t stuff yourself like a thanksgiving turkey.  Focus on keeping your fitness a priority and you will be able to start the New Year with a lot more pep than everyone else who decided to take the last three months off of exercise.  Enjoy the rest of the holiday season by staying healthy and fit!

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