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Wellness / December 21, 2015

How to stay fit during the holidays

Written by: Devon Balet

This can be a really tough time of year to stay healthy. With shorter days and colder temperatures, your opportunities to get outside and exercise become seemingly nonexistent. Everywhere you look, there are temptations – treats at the office, holiday parties, and gatherings that influence more drinking and  what seems to be an endless tin of cookies, everywhere.

When you are constantly being tempted to eat more junk, what can you do to avoid gaining weight during the holiday season? There are a few very simple things to help curb the weight gains, while still allowing yourself to enjoy the holidays and all it brings.

First things first; there are some common beliefs that within the United States the average American gains seven plus pounds during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Years). Studies now show the average weight gain during the holidays is one pound. That doesn’t sound so bad. Or does it? The issue is that most people don’t ever shed that added pound once putting it on. So, the goal is to avoid it to begin with.

 

A great way to keep checks and balances during the holiday season is to start your morning with a mug of hot lemon water. Thick slice of lemon, squeezed and steeped in hot water. This does a few great things for you. First, you avoid the high calorie count of popular coffee drinks. That Starbucks drink you love having on average has 200 to 500 calories. If you enjoy this drink even just three days a week that is an average of 600 to 1500 calories!

Aside from being low in calories, hot lemon water is high in antioxidants. The warm water will help promote hydration, as well as healthy digestive juices in the gut, which are crucial to your body flushing out toxins that build up over the night. The vitamin C content in the lemon will also help give your immune system a boost.

Another way to help promote better health is to never skip breakfast. We always hear this, but sometimes breakfast is a piece of fruit or pastry from the coffee shop. Starting your day with a breakfast high in fiber and protein gives you sustained energy that will stick with you throughout the day. One of my favorites is two eggs over easy, a piece of bread and half an avocado. It is a good idea to avoid refined carbs which your body will burn through quickly sending you into a blood sugar plunge, making you tired.

 

“Another way to help promote better health is to never skip breakfast. ”

With strained schedules, working out tends to be the first to go during the holiday season. Just remember it all adds up. Just like each one of those cookies you sneak from the office break room, every bit of exercise or activity counts toward daily totals. Simple things like parking further away, taking your dog for a jog, or even going for a walk on your lunch break all adds up. A great video produced by YouTube celebrity, Casey Naistat, really helps demonstrate this idea. For me, starting the day with a short run is a great way to kick the body in gear.

Incorporating some basic strength training into your activities will be hugely beneficial – even if it is just some simple core exercises and push ups. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, which means your body must expend energy to maintain it. In other words, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn even when your body is at rest.

Another quick way to boost your fitness is to include interval training. Not only will you see an increase in fitness, but you also burn more calories, helping keep the holiday pounds off. The basic idea is to vary the intensity within your workout, instead of going at a steady pace the whole time. Do you enjoy a nice two mile run in the morning? Next time, add a 100-yard sprint several times throughout your run and watch the results unfold.

 

At the end of the day, we simply tend to not eat well over the holiday season. Family traditions and cultural norms have us consuming more and working out less. Remember not to be too harsh on yourself. Did you over-indulge at your company’s holiday party last night? Instead of beating yourself up, try eating less today. Consider replacing a meal with fresh juice or a salad. While this won’t fix extended and continuous over eating, it will help keep the scales level.

Suggesting that you avoid the holiday season all together is simply not realistic. So, take a few of these suggestions with you into the final weeks to help you stay healthy and fit, all while enjoying those holiday treats.

Editor’s Note: No less than four cookies and one chocolate bar were consumed in the making of this article.

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about the author

Devon Balet

Born and raised in Colorado and living in the outdoors with a bike between his legs and a camera in hand, Devon discovered mountain biking after he started working at a bike shop at age 14.

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