Everyone loves the holidays. Baked goodies, boozy work parties, maybe even an impromptu kiss under the mistletoe. However, some fitness-minded folks dread this time of year. Not because they’re grinches that can’t stand Christmas cheer, but because an endless stream of culinary temptations is just too much to bear.
You know that internal conflict in your head where you have to choose between your love of food and not getting fat?
Yeah, that’s me and it pretty much sums up life in general—especially when November/December rolls around.
For us food lovers, October 31st–January 1st marks a time of the year infamous for overindulging and larger pant sizes. Regardless of whether you’re at home, work, or a party there’s bound to be some tempting calorie-bomb calling your name.
Hate to break it but, statistically, the odds are against you. Sure, you can try to say no to everything. But if you try to avoid these items at all costs, you’re guaranteed to fail—and you’ll have a pretty crappy holiday too.
You can’t escape it. So instead of trying to rely on willpower alone—which doesn’t work for long—let’s talk about some ways you can avoid packing on the pounds, while still enjoying the season.
1. Don’t give up your carbs, enjoy them post-workout.
If you’re tempted to give up carbs, do me a favor and slap yourself in the face. I’m not even kidding.
Carbs are not the enemy. Carbs will not make you fat. Let me repeat that—carbs will not make you fat.
The devil is in the dose. Too much of anything is bad, and the same holds true here. Ever wonder why extremely low carb diets leave you cranky and in a constant state of mental fogginess?
Put quite simply, carbohydrates are the gasoline to your tank. Just as a car can’t run on an empty tank, you can’t operate efficiently with carbs. Not only do you need them to keep your central nervous system running properly, but if you’re active, they play an even bigger role.
Carbohydrates are essential for keeping your hard-earned muscle and recovering from intense training sessions. Without them your body will use muscle for fuel, which will sabotage your gym efforts.
Did you know that the perfect time for you to consume your favorite starchy (high GI) carbs is right after a workout? After an intense training session your body depletes its glycogen stores. To bump these levels back up, you need to consume carbohydrates after working out. Doing so helps your muscles recover and grow!
So why limit your post-workout meal to something boring? Get creative and put those carbs to work!
2. Drink up!
I should specify that I’m talking about water here. Unfortunately, vodka doesn’t count. So much for this being a fun article, huh?
I digress. Back to the point.
This is one of the most simple, yet effective tips on the list. You’ve heard it a million times, but you still don’t follow it.
Drinking water provides your body with the essentials needed to operate and helps combat cravings. Research has shown that often when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. So instead of reaching for an unplanned treat, give that water bottle a nice long swig.
Struggling to get in your allotted daily amount of H2O? There’s an app for that. Grab your iPhone and download one of the many apps (like Waterlogged) that act as a timer, reminding you when it’s time to drink up.
Another trick to help increase your water consumption is to “schedule” it. For example, my goal is to consume 3-4 liters of water daily. This means I have to finish my 1-liter bottle by lunch, the second by 3 pm and the last one before going to bed. Having a larger bottle also helps—you’ll spend less time refilling and more time drinking.
3. Prepare a healthy alternative to your favorite dish.
This is an easy tip to implement since there are so many delicious (and healthy) recipes available via the internet.
Whether you’re a lover of cheesecake, a chocolate chip cookie aficionado or a self-proclaimed cinnamon roll connoisseur—a healthier alternative is always available.
Baking is also a great way to get your loved ones involved, and spend more quality time together.
4. Incorporate HIIT cardio.
Too often I see ladies spending hours upon hours on the treadmill trying to get in shape. While the good intentions may be there, it’s one of the least efficient ways to shed those extra pounds.
Unless you enjoy spending half your day on the treadmill and not making much progress? Probably not. I don’t know about you, but I like my workouts quick and effective so I can get on with my day and enjoy life outside the gym.
So how do I do it?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bouts of high-intensity cardio interspersed with short recovery sessions. You can perform HIIT in a variety of ways, whether it’s intervals on the stair master, outdoor sprints, or plyometrics in your living room.
Switch it up, and watch the pounds melt away. Not only will you spend less time in the gym, but you’ll also continue to burn more calories once you’re done! This “afterburn effect” is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). While you may burn more calories during a 1-hr long treadmill session, a shorter HIIT cardio session can result in more calories burned over the course of the day. Multiple studies show that there is a direct correlation between the number of calories burned and the intensity of the exercise. (1)
5. Portion Control your treats.
Instead of having a bunch of leftovers sitting around (just waiting to be demolished), try portioning them out into single servings using plastic baggies or reusable containers like these.
Instead of mindlessly consuming large amounts in one sitting, practice moderation. Allow yourself “x” amount per day. Once you have everything portioned, you’ll be much less likely to over-indulge.
I’m a huge proponent of moderation. When you try to eliminate something such as chocolate and tell yourself that to can’t have ANY of it, what’s the first thing that will happen? All you’ll want is chocolate! You’ll continue fantasizing about it until you can’t resist it any longer. Once you’re at that point, you’re bound to binge on the entire bar/bag/container. And that folks, is no bueno.
If you had simply allowed yourself the piece of chocolate once a day that never would have happened!
So hopefully these tips will help you keep in shape during the holiday season! If you have any other helpful tips for the holiday season, please comment below and share them!
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Thanks for reading,
- Knab, AM, and RA Shanely. “A 45-minute Vigorous Exercise Bout Increases Metabolic Rate for 14 Hours.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2011. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.