MYTH: Putting Your Exercise and Diet on Hold Over the Holidays Can't Hurt
The holidays definitely have all the elements necessary to throw you off the healthy track, but they don't have to. Breaking your diet and fitness routine will only make it that much harder to reboot come January 1!
The Truth: As crazy as it sounds, you don’t have to gain five pounds this holiday season! Being mindful of what you’re eating while continuing to exercise will keep you from ruining your weight-loss efforts.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year — you get a few days off to spend time with your family and friends to celebrate. What’s not to love? Well, I for one am not a fan of the holiday-party circuit with all of that fatty food at every turn — and don’t get me started on those holiday cocktails. Throwing caution to the wind and indulging in every craving will only make facing reality on New Year’s Day a lot harder. But I’m here to tell you that you can enjoy the festivities and indulge a bit without getting out of control. Here are a few tips to live by this holiday season:
Holiday weight gain doesn’t have to be inevitable. People can gain anywhere from one to 10 pounds in the short time period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This holiday weight gain is completely avoidable if you just adjust your mind-set for the holiday season. Let’s take Thanksgiving, for example: Fill up on the healthy stuff, like roasted turkey, salad, and veggies, then enjoy those side dishes you consider “must-haves” in moderation. Or, do you just love your mom’s pumpkin cheesecake that she makes only once a year? Plan to eat a small slice for dessert, and skip some of those other fatty dishes that you can live without.
Abandoning your fitness and diet plans for even just a few weeks can be disastrous. Remember how sore you were after your first workout? Think of all the progress you’ve made since then. By taking even just two to three weeks off, you’re setting yourself back and putting yourself at risk of losing the muscle you’ve gained. Plus, once you’ve gotten set in your routine, it’s harder to get back into it after you’ve fallen off track. Some research says it takes 30 days to develop a habit! The key to tackling both your fitness and diet plans during the holiday season is to plan to stick to them as much as you can. Granted, you may not be perfect, but you should never throw in the towel. Sure, you may miss a workout because you are traveling or attending a work or family gathering. It’s okay as long as you make sure your workout happens the next day. Like I mentioned previously, you can indulge in a few of those dishes that really mean a lot to you — but not everything laid out on the table. It’s all about eating your favorite things in moderation and making sure you commit to four workouts a week — whenever you can fit them in.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As most of you know, this is one of my favorite sayings, and it rings true even more so during this time of year. The best way to avoid falling completely off track is to plan ahead of time what you’ll eat and when you’ll exercise. Take a look at your week and pencil in your "can’t-miss” events, then see where you can find some extra time for fitness. When it comes to diets, the one rule I live by during the holiday season is to avoid attending any event hungry. Always have a satisfying snack beforehand — and, if appropriate, bring along a healthy dish that you can munch on to distract yourself from the calorie-laden items.
The Bottom Line: Sticking to your healthy lifestyle during the holiday season can be difficult, but there’s no reason to abandon all the progress you’ve made this year for a few gluttonous meals. Indulge occasionally, schedule your workouts, plan for nutritious meals, and try to keep a healthy mind-set.