The holidays are here overflowing with parties, yummy treats, alcohol, stress, and lack of time for workouts. Heavy eating and drinking during the holidays can make you feel sluggish, interfere with the intensity of your workouts, and cause you to jump on the weight loss New Year resolution bandwagon.
You could hide under a blanket in an attempt to avoid the celebrations and delicious foods. That’s not fun. The key is balance. Here are some ways you can even out the playing field and emerge from the holiday season still fitting into your favorite pair of jeans:
· Don’t show up to holiday parties hungry. If you show up to a party low on fuel, the end result is piling your party plate sky-high with fatty, salty, albeit delicious foods. And you may go back for seconds. Before heading out to a party, have a small snack that will quiet a grumbling belly. For example, try a ¼ cup of trail mix, 2 teaspoons peanut butter on a slice of bread, or a ¼-1/2 cup low fat whipped cottage cheese mixed with 1 teaspoon jam.
· Hydrate. The abundance of alcohol can dehydrate you. While it’s great to kick back and relax a bit, going overboard can lead to dehydration, greatly impacting your damage-control workout the day after. Be sure to stay well-hydrated throughout the day, and drink water in between your holiday glasses of wine.
· Load up on healthy stuff. While at a holiday party, survey the choices. Is there a green salad? Roasted veggies? Sushi platter (not ‘tempura’, aka, fried)? A platter of grapes or fruit salad? Try to load your plate up with the healthiest choices, and save a small portion of your plate for the savory, rich foods.
· Find a goal to keep motivated. Keep unwanted pounds away by signing up for a holiday run in your neighborhood. Many towns sponsor a “Ho, Ho, Ho” or “Jingle” run. Check out a website like www.active.com to find out what races are near you. Is your gym holding a holiday challenge? Sign up! This time of year many gyms also start to offer discounts on personal training packages.
· Something is better than nothing. We are so busy this time of year, it can be too easy to ditch your workout. Search through workout magazines and websites for short, yet effective workouts you can squeeze into a 30 minute window. Many workout DVDs are focused on short, intense workouts lasting 20-30 minutes. The Runner’s World website posted the article “Three Workouts to Maintain Fitness Through the Holidays” featuring short duration, high intensity interval training workouts on the treadmill that may boost post-workout metabolism and possibly help improve speed. Whatever workout you choose, 30 minutes is always better than nothing!
Should the holidays get the best of you and leave you feeling defeated, remember, you do not need to give up. Pick yourself back up again, find a race or gym challenge that motivates you, urge friends to join you, and get back into the swing of your workouts and healthy eating. Happy Holidays!
Alison Barkman, MS, RD, CDN is an adjunct professor for nutrition undergraduates at LIU/Post in Brookville, NY. She is starting a sports nutrition practice in Garden City, NY, and is available for nutrition counseling, sports nutrition clinics for athletes, and nutrition communications consulting. She can be reached at AlisonBarkmanNutrition@gmail.com or 516-220-9320.