Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Holiday tips and tricks!

This time of year, I get a lot of questions and general concern from students and friends regarding the holidays and their weight and/or workout schedules.  Here's what I think:

It's important to keep at your workouts during the holidays for a couple reasons.  First, obviously, is to help keep your weight in check.  Exercise helps to keep you centered and focused on your priorities and goals. Knowing that you have taken time for yourself and your body helps feelings of guilt around food (although this isn't a free pass to eat everything!) and also helps keep you calm if there is that one certain family member that always drives you crazy. 

You'll be surprised how much even a little bit of exercise helps.  If you have an event or series of events, plan your day to include 15-20 minutes to work out.  Even if you don't have your workout clothes/shoes/etc., you can do a series of jumping jacks, running in place, pushups, situps, burpees wherever you are.  Before you go, make yourself a playlist of workout music (make a new one so that you are excited about it) for the amount of time you want to commit each day and run yourself through some cardio and toning exercises each day. You might also want to find the other fitness person/people in the family and do a run together or simply walk around the block one afternoon with your brother.  PS: Snowball fights count as cardio!

I have recently found that I love keeping a workout calendar. Some of my students are finding success in this as well.  I write down what I do each day after I do it.  Note that this isn't a calendar of goals, but of accomplishments.  If I set out for a 9 mile run but only make it 7 miles, I write down 7.  When I look at the calendar, I'll see that I did 7 awesome miles rather than remembering that I had planned to do 9.  The other great thing about this is that it holds you accountable to yourself.  You know when you look at it if you have been slacking.

Oh, the food!  I am not going to tell you it's OK to go nuts just because you ran a couple miles.  If you are concerned about gaining weight, you have to pay attention to what you are eating.  Snacking throughout the day and having a big meal will add up very quickly.  If you are the cook, don't eat a whole meal in bites before everything is ready.  Think about putting everything that you eat on a plate rather than directly into your mouth.  This means that you will have to look at it and acknowledge that you are choosing to eat it rather than just grabbing it as you walk by.  Remember that dinner plates are bigger than stomachs.  Think about that as you dish out your servings.  Eat the things that you like.  Just because you are watching your weight doesn't mean that you can only eat veggies.  If you love those butter drenched sweet potatoes, eat some of them!  You don't have to deny yourself the things that you want, you just have to be smart about it.  Don't fill up your plate with things you don't like and then end up eating them out of guilt.  I feel dessert is a time where it is OK to legitimately be full and pass.  However if you want a piece of pie, have it!  You don't have to take the biggest piece.  Lastly, be realistic.  If you want to have a day where you eat anything you want, do it.  One day will not ruin everything and send you into a sinking spiral.  Simply acknowledge what you are doing and get back on your diet and fitness plan the next day.

I'll go ahead right now and say that this is the one that gets me.  I love winter drinks: pumpkin spice lattes, hot chocolate, mochas...  I also like non-holiday drinks like wine and beer.  I probably won't turn down a glass of champagne.  On Thanksgiving, I always find myself thankful for Spanish Coffees.  I can easily drink my holiday calories and I know I'm not alone in this.  But if you want to drink, you need to eat.  There are far too many potential backfires if you employ the reasoning of drinking calories over food calories.  Be mindful of when you start drinking.  If you start your day with mimosas, know that there are a lot of hours to go and you don't want to be drunk before the party even starts (in most cases :)).  Speaking of getting drunk, know whether or not that is going to be acceptable in your crowd if you choose to do it.  Know how you are getting home (please don't drink and drive) and whether or not you are risking having to write Aunt Edna an apology if you do get drunk and tell her that her eyebrows are crooked.  There are also a lot of sugary drinks around, boozy and non-boozy alike.  You can end up overdoing it on sugar very quickly (especially if a lot of sugar isn't in your regular daily diet).  A good rule of thumb for any holiday festivity is to drink a glass of water every hour and/or alternate water with your other beverages (1 drink/1 water or 1 drink/2 water). 

Mental State:
This is actually the most important. The holidays can be stressful and hard on emotions, waistlines and fitness goals.  Know which things will be your biggest challenges.  This can be as simple as food or not wanting to run outside when the weather is bad.  It can be the stress of knowing the pesky aunt will inevitably ask about why you are still single/don't have kids/have gained weight.  It might be the financial strain of the holiday.  Acknowledge what bothers you and make a plan around it.  If you are afraid of overeating, pick a couple things that you know you will like and enjoy them.  When Aunt Edna asks you about why you are single, have a confident response ready and then maybe go grab 15 minutes for a walk around the block and let it go. If holiday spending stresses you out, make a budget.  You also don't have to go to everything that you are invited to.  If you have friends that like to go to expensive dinners and you can't do it, you can say no.  Going into the season with a plan that you can commit to can help avoid compensating for it in other areas (drinking/eating too much, not working out, making choices you wouldn't normally make).   The only person who can control what you do is you.  Don't forget about the progress you've made, be confident that you will continue to focus and work toward your goals, and be proud of yourself.

Lastly, if this all goes to shit and you eat too much and don't workout, resolution time is right around the corner.  I can help with that too :)

Hit me up if you need workout ideas. 

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