As the holiday season kicks into high gear and temptation abounds, it’s time to rev up your game plan and stay one step ahead of the party. At the Anti-Aging Institute in Lexington, Kentucky, we have some practical tips for fighting the holiday bulge that are simple to follow and easy to incorporate into your busy schedule.
Tip 1: Exercise earlier
Establishing an exercise routine at the beginning of your day is a great habit any time of year, especially during the holidays. The benefits of a morning workout are plentiful. Research suggests that when you begin your day with exercise, you’re more likely to avoid overeating throughout the day. And when your metabolism gets a boost from exercise in the morning, you begin the day burning more calories -- a huge benefit to your body and your psyche.
Another bonus for getting a workout in before you head off to work is that you won’t run out of time to exercise later because of a busy schedule. During the holiday season, as your social calendar becomes filled with dinners and other late-in-the-day celebrations, getting 30-60 minutes of cardio or strength training first thing in the morning takes the time factor out of the equation for the rest of the day.
Tip 2: Plan to indulge
Plan what treats you’ll eat ahead of time. This may sound counterproductive, but it could be the difference between mindful eating and overindulging. With a little pre-planning, you can make a conscious effort about what to eat and what to avoid. For example, if you love Aunt Mary’s homemade apple crumb pie, skip the buttered roll, and plan to have a small slice of pie after dinner instead. This way, you get to taste an indulgent dessert without feeling guilty that you overdid it and tossed your healthy eating habits out the window.
Another option is to take your slice of pie to go, and eat it the next day for breakfast when you have the entire day to burn off those extra calories -- which is related to our next holiday tip.
Tip 3: Move more
You might be eating a bit more than usual this holiday season, so make the conscious effort to move more, too. Most of us eat more in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, but many times we forget to compensate for the extra calories with extra exercise. Find creative ways throughout your day to get in some extra steps: take the stairs, park far away from the store, or walk the dog before bedtime.
Tip 4: Make a healthier appetizer
Just because food is healthy, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t taste good. When you attend or host a party, make a healthier version of an appetizer. There are so many ways to turn non-healthy recipes into better-for-you dishes with just as much flavor.
Instead of ranch dip made with sour cream and mayonnaise, make a spicy guacamole with chopped onions and fresh cilantro -- the avocado contains healthier monounsaturated fats. Trade the cheese and pepperoni platter for a fresh veggie tray to go with the guacamole, or prepare a Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil. An added bonus of snacking on these raw veggies before dinner is that you’ll fill up on fiber, satisfy your need to crunch, and eat less of the main course.
Tip 5: Focus on friends and family
The reason you’re at a holiday party is to enjoy the company, right? Try to focus on socializing with friends and co-workers you don’t often get to talk to rather than hanging out by the buffet table. Fill a plate and your glass, with healthy options of course, then find a spot to socialize across the room, so you won’t be tempted to get refills.
Tip 5: Drink just one
If you want to indulge in a holiday cocktail, drink just one. Whenever possible, avoid sugary concoctions loaded with calories, and don’t refill your glass. Instead, follow up with a tall glass of water with lemon, or a seltzer with lime if you’re craving something bubbly.
Tip 6: Take a fitness class
Taking a weekly fitness class during the busy holiday season offers a variety of health benefits. The Anti-Aging Institute offers group classes in yoga, pilates, kettlebell training and more, to help you stay in shape and minimize stress. And, working out with like-minded, health-conscious people can help keep you from overindulging when you’re out and about.
Tip 7: Set realistic goals
The holidays are all about enjoying good company and good food, so remember to cut yourself a break and set realistic goals. Planning to hit the gym five times a week amidst holiday festivities might be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, choose a time that allows you to squeeze in some exercise (see Tip 1 or Tip 6) a few days a week.
Tip 8: Forgive yourself
Forgive yourself if you eat two slices of pie instead of one. Don’t throw in the towel, because every new day is another chance to get back on track! The holiday season lasts for weeks, so one day off won’t take away from all your positive efforts.
To sit down with a fitness plan specialist or get nutrition coaching, at the holidays or any time of year, call our office or book an appointment using our online scheduling tool.