Remaining Fit During the Holidays, Part 2
You can hardly swing a mouse around the internet this time of year without seeing a website offering tips to stay trim and fit in the face of buffets and holiday parties. The problem is, most of their suggestions aren't terribly helpful for practical purposes. If you can manage to get up an hour early to head to the out-of-town gym where you got a guest membership before you traveled and to eat just a tablespoon of your favorite menu items “just to enjoy a taste,” that's great; most of us are not going to be joining you.
I've found that, to be successful, a strategy has to be easy to use and it needs to integrate into the plans you already have without adding a bunch of stress and hassle. Last week, we looked at ways that planning ahead and tricking yourself into eating fewer calories can help hold off the weight gain. Splurges happen, though, so here are some ways I've found to keep up with burning off the gravies and cookies without burning through a lot of time and stress.
1. Plan ahead before you travel. Check if there's a fitness room at your hotel, workout equipment at your relatives' home, or hiking trails nearby, if that's your speed. Fitting in a traditional workout doesn't have to mean going to a gym or buying new equipment for the trip.
2. Be the “helpful guest.” Just a half hour of shoveling snow or raking leaves torches calories, gets you out in the fresh air, and makes a great impression on whomever is hosting. Even housework burns a lot more calories than sitting in front of the TV.
3. Hang out with the kids. You read that right. Going outside and playing games, getting in snowball fights, making snowpeople, ice skating, or even playing games indoors on the Wii or Kinect are all ways to relax, get in touch with your inner child, and best of all, burn calories without even thinking about a “real” workout.
4. Make walking part of the family plan. Get everyone together for a walk to check out the leaves (or the icicles!), or just to hang out and catch up. Get a group to go caroling and let the fun times distract you from all the walking and working out you're also doing.
5. Help out at a local charity. Spending a couple hours putting together holiday food baskets or care packages is not just good for your spirit. All that lifting and moving helps keep your heart in shape in more ways than one. There are plenty of ways to volunteer this time of year that also involve being active.
One of the most important things to remember during the holidays is that this is supposed to be a joyful time. Do what you can, when you can, but don't stress yourself out with an “all or nothing” attitude. Make sneaking a bit of fitness into your routine into a game, and it may be so enjoyable you stick with the habit beyond the holidays. Don't let little setbacks turn into complete shutdowns, though. There's always a chance to do a little more, get more results, and have more fun.