3 Hacks to Stay Strong and Lean During the Holidays

These hacks will help you stay on target to achieve your fitness goals during the holidays.

Co-authored by Kyle Neagle, a chiropractor, movement enthusiast and nutrition fanatic. Learn more about Kyle here.

Let's be honest: The holiday season is not the most popular time to start a detox or diet. Even those of us who eat healthy 80 to 90 percent of the time are guilty of kicking up our heels and going to town during the holidays, bathing in sugar with a YOLO attitude.

The best way to balance one extreme is with another extreme. To do this effectively, you have to face the truth and create a strategy, as opposed to drowning in delusion.

RELATED: Healthy Eating During the Holidays

To get you started, here are three holiday hacks that we've deliberately kept simple. All you need are

  1. Cinammon
  2. A weight of some sort: kettlebell, dumbbell or your little cousin!
  3. A journal, piece of paper or just a napkin.

Your goals are to:

  1. Write a little. (Write a little more.)
  2. Eat with a little cinnamon. (Drink with a little more cinnamon.)
  3. Move a little.

Nutrition Hack

Cinnamon

Add a little cinnamon to your carbohydrates. It has the potential to give some purpose to that aimless, lazy sugar swimming around in your body after that slice of pie. The purpose is simply to put that sugar in a position to work to fuel your workout or recovery. Incorporating cinnamon results in a better workout and a better recovery after smashing a workout or a piece or three of grandma's apple pie!

RELATED: Losing Fat: How to Stay Focused During the Holidays

Couple carbohydrate/protein with cinnamon (1-2g) for optimal absorption of proteins and carbohydrates into muscle (think post-workout shake or meal). You can use cassia—common household cinnamon. Other options include the slightly spicier Saigon variety, or the more expensive Ceylon, which contains less coumarin (a blood thinner) than the other varieties and for that reason is potentially less stressful on the liver.

To be safe, 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day is plenty, since it does contain things that may put unwanted stress on the body. People using blood thinners should consult with a medical professional before incorporating large amounts of cinnamon into their diets.

In terms of measurement, a half teaspoon equals about 1 gram of cinnamon

Movement Hack

KB Journals Cinnamon

Swing a kettlebell or dumbbell. It will wake up your muscles. Many kettlebell movements are thought of as hip-dominant, but there's much more to it than meets the eye. They effectively integrate the hips with the feet and ankles, which is incredibly important from a rehabilitation standpoint.

RELATED: Stay Strong Over the Holidays With This 10-Minute Routine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Easily transportable, the kettlebell can give you a great 10-minute (or less) workout that will elevate your heart rate, enhance your posterior chain (perfect after all the sitting while traveling), and open your muscles' sugar gates (activate GLUT4 receptors).

Guidelines

  1. Do not bend/flex at your back, especially your low back, when swinging. Hinge (bend/flex) from your hips. When you bend at the hip, you should feel a stretch in your glute, not your back.

  2. Your feet should be intimate with the floor. In other words, pretend your feet are screws and you want to attach them to the floor. Your foot muscles should feel "on" short ("short foot"); if someone were to bump you while walking by, you would not move an inch.

  3. With your feet planted, bend at the hip. Feel that stretch in your glutes like an elastic band being pulled back, and then "snap" your hips like the elastic band. At the top position, when you're standing straight and the kettlebell is in front of you, your stomach/core should be "on" to prevent you from bending backwards with your low back (i.e., going into extension).

Mental Hack

Journal

Do some journaling. Before all the "manly" men abandon ship on this last holiday hack, hear us out! There is a large and steadily growing body of evidence that supports the efficacy of journaling, not only for its mental benefits but its physical benefits as well. Journaling can help you build better habits, hold yourself accountable and recognize behavioral patterns that influence success and failure.

Think about this: as the holidays approach and you want to stay on track, having your goals written down and reminding yourself of them daily will reduce the likelihood of dropping off your fitness or dietary routine.

Daily journaling also has been proven to make you feel more gratitude and happiness—especially when you write about something that makes you happy or that you are grateful for. It can also enhance "flow state" and creativity, and often provides a feeling of freedom while reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

How you write is important. Writing about stressful events to get them out of your head can aid in reducing anxiety/stressful states. Writing about happy events (and revisiting them) when things are tough is a great way to enhance your mood. Writing about successes in business, personal life, and fitness can be a way to recognize growth, improvement, and identify positive patterns/relationships. And writing about negative events/ failures can help you recognize patterns/relationships and learn from them.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: MOTIVATION | NUTRITION | DUMBBELLS | KETTLEBELL