The holidays are here. It’s time to let yourselves go. Holiday candies, pumpkin and pecan pie, stuffing, cookies, cakes, eggnog – you name it, it’s time to indulge.
On second thought, maybe it’s time to keep yourselves on track. There have been stats and research released that the average person gains seven to 10 pounds between November and the beginning of January, so essentially, from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. Some have reported that 85% keep the pounds on throughout the year. There are other reports that say these numbers are a fabrication. I’m not here to confirm or deny these figures, but to suggest that you can enjoy the holidays and still maintain a balanced lifestyle.
How, you ask?
Continue your fitness routine
Hopefully, you have one in place. Whatever your form of exercise, keep it consistent. While it’s not always believed, weight loss happens in the kitchen, and the sculpting and chiseling happens as a result of working out. So, food is king, but its queen is fitness. Be consistent. If you run three times a week, keep at it. If you hit the gym for three days, take a rest day, then get back to three more. Ensure that pattern remains your norm. Stay active during the holidays, even if you indulge in a treat, two or four.
Watch your party schedule.
If you have two holiday parties in a week, do your best to eat cleanly on the other five days of the week so you can enjoy yourself. Don’t go overboard, but take the time to celebrate without worry. A good way to avoid excess is to eat only what you actually like, even if the trays of sweets seem endless. People often overeat when they have more variety and options available than when those options are limited. Don’t rely on others to limit your options at holiday parties. Do it yourself by only eating the foods you really like.
Make your resolutions early.
Don’t wait until New Year’s to set a resolution. If you want to maintain a healthier lifestyle, do it now. That way, it’s not a resolution made to be broken, it’s a lifestyle change you are committing to. Start slowly, then ramp up your goals as you progress through the holiday season.
I’ll bet you’re thinking, ‘What does sleep have to do with my fitness and weight?’ Recent research from Stanford’s Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine program has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin. Sleep loss appears to stimulate appetite and cravings for inflammatory foods. Just because you have more opportunities to stay up late doesn’t mean you should. Go out and have fun at those Christmas parties, but head home early enough so that you can get plenty of sleep. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Avoid the need to create a resolution when the end of the holiday season rolls around. Check yourself now. Maintain a routine, avoid the Santa belly, but enjoy and celebrate the holidays without guilt or anxiety. Move through the holidays so the holidays don’t move through you.
*Featured/top image: Tom Trevino, MBS Fitness personal trainer, makes time for his own fitness first. Courtesy photo.