It’s not surprising that most of us end up adding a little extra weight as the New Year begins, what with all the indulgences of the holidays. Add to that the heavy feeling of being unmotivated when it comes to reaching our fitness goals.
As we get into the thick of the Christmas season, our schedules get crazy and we often feel overwhelmed by all the “extras” going on around us. We’re pre-wired to think that this season means to just give up on everything healthy until after the holidays are over. But your New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to start next year. This year, for a change, adjust your mindset to achieve this goal: feel the best you’ve ever felt after this season is over.
Here are the top 10 secrets to staying fit during the holiday season.
Believe you cannot not achieve the goal.
Before you start any type of new program, you need to adjust your mindset so that you are mentally focused and ready to make the right changes. Remember, your mindset impacts everything. If you start thinking this will be stressful and you might not achieve your goals, then you probably won’t. It’s like that famous quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” This is so true. So before you even take any more advice from me or anyone for that matter, make sure you start thinking positive. You can do this!
Always have a backup exercise or backup meal.
I always say that organization and consistency are the key to your success. When you plan out your schedule, workouts and your meals ahead of time, you have no excuses to miss workouts or eat the wrong things. Also having a back-up plan in place will help you stay moving when you can’t make it to the gym or you’re stuck traveling with no way to eat a prepared meal. I usually have a few workouts that I can do if I miss the gym or I’m stuck in a hotel. These are body weight exercise routines that incorporate exercises like push-ups, squats and planks (to name a few) that can be done anywhere—and they only take 20-30 minutes. Then I’ll keep a few extra protein/meal replacement shakes on hand with a shaker bottle so all I have to do is add water and I’m not missing a meal or slowing my metabolism down.
Keep your workouts 30-45 minutes max.
Your schedule is packed and realistically it makes even more sense to spend the least amount of time training so you have more time shopping and attending holiday events. So when you’re training, make sure you keep your workouts to 30-45 minutes max. Cut your rest time down in-between sets which will keep your heart rate elevated while recruiting more muscle fibers into play. This will help you build lean muscle while burning fat.
Do not cut out the carbs.
Usually during this season, people try to cut things out like “carbs” which is not a good idea. Remember, carbs are where your body gets its energy. The key is to take in the right carbs so that your body keeps a sustained energy throughout your busy day. Eating balanced means lean proteins, “complex” carbohydrates and good fats. Proteins like chicken breast, fish, lean beef, egg whites and whey protein powder (if you’re not a Vegan). If you are a Vegan, you can simply replace the protein sources with seitan, tofu, tempeh and different types of beans like chickpeas. Your carbs should be complex carbohydrates, for example, sweet potato, brown rice, yams, and oatmeal with vegetables of course. Fats should come from essential fatty acids or Omegas (3, 6, and 9) and CLA, which you can find in a supplement form. Also avocados, coconut oil and canola oil are great for your body’s fat intake as well.
Make sure you’re getting quality supplements.
Nutritional supplements make things so much easier especially during a busy work schedule or holiday season. Supplements do exactly that, they “supplement” nutrients that we don’t readily get in our everyday diets. But all supplements are not created equal, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting quality brands. Here’s a list of supplements I would recommend to help you get all the nutrients you need while you’re rushing around this season. (Please note that you should take these supplements all year round as well):
a. A Quality Multivitamin
c. Digestive enzymes
d. Protein Powder (whey or plant based if you’re vegan)
e. Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
f. Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3, 6, 9)
Change your routine.
The body has an amazing ability to adapt to things, good or bad. So it’s always important to change up your routines and keep things interesting. This is also good for the mindset so you don’t get bored and you’ll have a higher chance of being successful. I usually change up my workout routines weekly. Changing the combinations of my exercises, working the same muscles in different ways and always doing my cardio on different machines. If you’re traveling, cardio can be done by jumping rope or even going for a run. As long as you keep things fresh, you’ll stay consistent.
Remember that sleeping controls your diet.
A lot of people have poor sleeping habits and it usually gets worse during the holiday season. With all the extra stress, you might end up thinking about everything that needs to be done which will keep you up later. However, sleep is very important. Your body needs rest in order to lose fat and build muscle. Sleeping controls your diet. In fact, research has shown that within just four days of sleep deprivation, your body’s ability to properly use insulin (the master storage hormone) becomes completely disrupted. In fact, the University of Chicago researchers found that insulin sensitivity dropped by more than 30 percent. So try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This will keep you moving stress-free and ready to take on the challenges of each day.
Get family and friends involved.
Getting together with family and friends doesn’t have to mean sitting around eating all day and night—get them motivated and involved with your new healthy holiday routine. Show them how organized you are and ask them to team up with you. Having a workout partner is always beneficial—you can keep each other accountable and set goals together.
Be realistic: set small goal.
Always set small goals for yourself and be realistic. Don’t forget this is the holiday season and we’re not training for a competition. Our main goal is to maintain and set ourselves up for a great new year to come. Setting up small goals gives you a sense of accomplishment when you complete them. This in return will give you a boost of confidence to keep pushing forward. Write your goals down, make a checklist of all the exercises you need to do in your routine and keep a journal of everything you’re eating, good or bad. This will keep you conscious of what you need to be doing.
Reward yourself and have fun.
Don’t cut out everything you love to eat. This is the holiday season and just because you’re trying to not gain weight, doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and enjoy some of the foods you love. Everything in moderation is the secret to maintaining a fit body during the holidays. The reason why we keep organized, set goals, complete workouts, prepare meals and follow a regimen, is to allow us to reward ourselves with some of our favorite foods without feeling guilty afterwards. Our bodies are now running like a machine. We are burning up more calories and our bodies can handle reasonable amounts of rich holiday food without them storing as fat and slowing us down.
Ben Munger is a Health and Fitness practitioner and entrepreneur. As a former health club owner, personal trainer and nutrition specialist, Ben spent nearly two decades consulting a wide range of clientele, including professional athletes on how to achieve their ultimate fitness goals. Ben is a true believer that fitness is a lifestyle. " In order to reach and maintain your goals, you need to incorporate health and fitness into your lifestyle."