There is a reason why "I will exercise" is one of the most common New Year's resolutions. As people slack off holiday workouts and eat delicious food, they pack on pounds. The hard work they did over the past eleven months can disappear in a few weeks of cakes and roasts.
That is, if you're not careful. In fact, the holidays can provide an opportunity to improve your exercise routine. Here are five simple things you can do to ensure that you won't feel disappointed when you look in the mirror on January 2.
1. Exercise early
If you are exercising early in the morning anyway, great.
If you aren't, the holidays are a perfect time to start. You may have a whole bunch of family obligations over the holidays, but they don't normally start at 5 in the morning. That's a perfect time to start early and ensure you will exercise. If you choose to wait until the afternoon, far too often some unexpected family thing interferes.
Exercising early in the morning throughout the year has a ton of benefits. It boosts your metabolism throughout the day and gets you alert and awake for the day's labors.
2. Eat your vegetables
We may eat more around Christmas than at any other point in the year. But we don't eat a lot more vegetables. Very few Christmas dishes are vegetable-based, and the few that are often ruin their nutritional value with sauces dolloped on top of them.
Instead, when your family has an array of dishes, get the vegetables on your plate first. Make them fill anywhere from one third to one half of your plate. Preferably get vegetables with a lot of fiber, such as beans, peas and broccoli. High-fiber vegetables can be filling, which will make you less inclined to fill up on everything else.
3. Don't fast
Far too often, people who are wary of gaining weight over the holidays decide to skip a few meals. The logic is that by not eating now, they will be able to indulge themselves later with a bigger meal.
As multiple sources confirm, fasting actually causes weight gain. The problem is that fasting creates an excuse for people to pig out later, which results in larger food consumption compared to regular meals. This is exacerbated by the fact that the body's metabolism slows down during fasting.
Routine is a vital point for both exercise and diet. By changing your routine by fasting, you alter your metabolism, which can have unpredictable and often negative results.
Instead of fasting, eat regular meals. In fact, it can be a good idea to eat a high-protein snack beforehand to fill you up and prevent overeating.
4. Get everyone involved in exercise
You are with your family over the holidays.
Everyone in your family should be worried about a bigger waistline afterwards. So there is a strong incentive to get everyone to participate in holiday workouts, which will improve your health and your relationships. Plan a walk in the woods or at a local park. You might be thinking, that's my old house when I lived near the woods. But you probably still have a back yard, so go play games outside, or have a snowball fight. Even early morning calisthenics is better than doing nothing at all.
Group exercise is always better than solo exercise, because it encourages everyone to stay motivated in front of others. And no group is better at motivating people than family.
5. Indulge yourself—a little
Let's be honest. No one likes folks who turn down all the delicious holiday food in the name of health. It makes them feel bad if you give them the impression that they don't care about their health, or perhaps encourages them to pig out more at your expense. And besides, you won't feel any better when you smell those wonderful scents.
Remember the 80/20 rule. If you eat healthy 80 percent of the time, it's OK to indulge yourself the other 20 percent. Even if you lower it to 70/30 for the holidays, you will still come out ahead of most Americans. Eating a slice of cake, you will enjoy yourself. You don't have to eat like a monk to improve your physique and not gain weight over the holidays.
The holiday season only lasts a few weeks. What you do during the rest of the year is far more important. By working out regularly and eating healthy throughout the year, you can ensure that you won't be too disappointed with your waistline when the holidays end.