The six week period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is perhaps the most challenging part of the year to stay consistent with a workout plan and maintain a healthy diet. Many folks simply stop trying during this time of year and pledge they will get back to exercising and eating right “after the holidays.”
If you choose to take a break, do not underestimate the physical and mental output required to make a 180 degree turn when the season ends. It is incredibly difficult to switch from practicing minimal self-discipline to working out regularly and eating a proper diet. Every January, many people’s resolutions to exercise and eat right end up failing because of the tremendous effort required.
Slacking off on your workout routine is especially dangerous if you are new to the fitness game. It is very easy to slip out of your routine and lose the results you have worked hard for. In addition, when you decide to get back on track, you will lack the stamina and fitness level needed to exercise with the same intensity. In fact, it is estimated that after four to five weeks without exercise your fitness level may decreases by as much as fifty-percent!
However, the fact remains that the holiday season is a tough time. There are more temptations than usual with office parties, holiday dinners, and family gatherings. Holiday shopping and visits make scheduling workouts difficult. Your goal should be to take a balanced approach that allows you to keep the gains you have worked hard for and also indulge in some holiday cheer.
Here are 5 ways to find balance this holiday season:
1.) Decide In Advance. Decide in advance to exercise moderation when it comes to food and drink. Before attending holiday celebrations, make a decision to limit yourself to one slice of pumpkin pie instead of two – or two cocktails instead of three. Many holiday dishes and treats are high in calories. For example, one cup of egg nog contains nearly 350 calories and a slice of pumpkin pie has about 320 calories and 17 grams of fat!
2.) Avoid An "All Or Nothing" Approach. Even if you cannot maintain your regular workout schedule, you should still stay physically active. Remember the concept “to maintain is to gain.” If you are able to maintain your current fitness level (or a portion of it), that is an achievement in and of itself. Even small things like walking more or taking the stairs is helpful.
3.) Eat Before You Go. Consider eating a lean, high-protein meal and/or drinking plenty of water before attending a holiday event. This strategy will help curb your hunger and prevent you from completely overindulging.
4.) Observe The 70/30 Rule. During the holiday season, eat healthfully and avoid excess sugar, alcohol and fatty foods seventy percent of the time. The other thirty percent of the time, allow yourself to enjoy your holiday favorites (without going completely overboard).
5.) Get Enough Rest. Many times feeling tired or stressed is mistaken for hunger. Proper rest also helps you to deal with the stressors that often accompany a hectic holiday season.
If all else fails, be sure to get back on track as soon as possible. Try to follow a simple rule: If you eat more, exercise more.