The holiday season is centred around social interaction and having quality time with friends and family. It's about enjoying each others company and exchanging gifts, food, and drinks.
So how do you enjoy the offerings of the holidays without losing sight of your fitness progress?
The best way to do is is to modify existing holiday traditions to incorporate healthy lifestyle decisions. Creating too much change (not eating treats at xmas parties, or trying to start a new exercise program) will likely lead to failure, or stress. You'll want to avoid this at all costs and help make your holidays as relaxing and fun as possible, while keeping your health in mind.
Here are some tips to keep you on track of your fitness goals during the holidays.
Your work holiday party will be filled with temptations to over-indulge in: alcohol, cheese, fatty meats, and of course those beautiful, bountiful sweets. You can prepare for this by eating a small fibrous meal (like veggies) and drinking plenty of water before leaving the house. This will help you make better decisions when filling your plate. You will likely be less impulsive, prioritize what decadent treats you eat, and eat in moderation.
Why fibre? Your body has three ways to recognize that it is full:
- A pathway that detects consumed protein
- A pathway that detects consumed fats
- A pathway where the stretch receptors in the stomach feel the volume of content in your stomach, then send a signal to the brain saying “I’m full!”.
(The great part about this last pathway is, when it comes to carbohydrates, your stomach cannot tell if it was stretched because you had 10 cubic centimetres of cake, or 10 cubic centimetres of broccoli. All carbohydrates are registered by size.)
Fibre is an intelligent tool to use for controlling your appetite. Aside from its benefits in keeping you “regular”, it also is handy because your body cannot digest or break-down fibre, therefore it cannot be stored as fat! So fibre will fill your stomach up, and activate those stretch receptors before your dinner party, and help prevent you from storing excess fat in the process.
Incorporate Exercise Into Holiday Activities
Holiday activities are essential for spending quality time with your friends and family. Go out of your way to incorporate plenty of walking into these special moments! Plan a route and park a little farther from the Christmas Market so you need to walk through a festive part of town to get there. Instead of board games every night, plan a Christmas light viewing walk around your neighbourhood. Find any reason to go outside and walk with your family!
Walking has so many benefits! With the ability to strengthen involved skeletal muscles, muscles involved in breathing, and the heart health, improve your mental health, and reduce stress and depression, walking is an easy and effective way to stay active and exercise. Walking will also help burn up stored fat in your body. As an aerobic exercise, walking is ideal for using up fat storage, but only when done consistently. Make sure to bundle up and incorporate walking as an essential part of holiday traditions!
Bring a Friend to the Gym
Going to the gym on a regular basis is likely the biggest holiday challenge you'll face. With your step-parents visiting from out-of-town, and those cookies you need to make for your daughters’ school cookie exchange, the holidays are always pushing at your boundaries of time.
So how do you motivate yourself to show up at the gym when you’re struggling to find a moment to relax? Refer a friend for a free 30-day pass to your Steve Nash Fitness Club, or if you're feeling especially generous this year, buy them their own membership! This provides you with a workout buddy that will keep you going to the gym regularly and motivate you to work hard once you're there. Make relaxing plans to do some morning cardio followed by going to a health food store and chatting over a protein smoothie. Make your gym experience enjoyable and something you look forward to instead of risking it becoming a stressful chore. You will feel good about yourself for looking after your health, and your new workout buddy will love you for helping them get exercising more.
Keep the holiday fitness smart and enjoyable. Don’t risk making fitness plans that are too challenging and that will turn into stress. Make small manageable changes to your day-to-day holiday experience, which will enhance your fitness.