Exercise and the Holidays

It’s no mystery that it’s easy to gain a few pounds over the holidays. Between the family gatherings, the parties with friends the extra calories can add up quickly, not to mention the harder it can be to workout.

This holiday season, I’d like to not only challenge you to make good choices at the gatherings, but to stick with your regular workout schedule. Here’s why…

Stress Relief

I think most of us can agree that while the holidays are certainly a whole lot of fun, they put additional stress on our lives. Between preparing for parties, decorating the house, shopping in crowded stores and dealing with the challenges the weather often brings, it’s no wonder we feel more stressed. Exercise is a great way to relieve that stress. Not only will it feel good to be active, exercise releases ‘happy’ endorphins that contribute to stress relief.

It’s the ME Time you Need

Holiday schedules are crazy. Invitations from family, friends on top of school and office parties can make your social calendar seem like it’s on steroids! With all that socialization it’s so important to take time for ‘YOU.’ Don’t miss out on a workout because you don’t have time. You owe it to yourself to spend the time necessary to make yourself a better you. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, put in 30 minutes at home with some body weight exercises and simple cardio bursts.

Counter the Calories

It’s no mystery that workouts don’t burn nearly the amount of calories that many think that they do, however, regular exercise helps you to have more lean muscle mass and a healthy metabolism. Both of these things contribute to more efficiently burning calories even when you aren’t exercising. Dropping your workouts at the same time as you increase your intake of calories is the perfect equation for watching the number on the scale rise.

If you’re off on Friday stop in and see me at CustomFit at 218 E. St Charles in Lombard. I’ll be teaching PiYo at 7:00am and a Power Lunch class focused on core and stretching at 12:15pm. It will be a great time and a good break from your Black Friday shopping!

Resist the Temptation

Is it just me or have the stores had huge bags of Halloween candy for a month now? I feel like October is the beginning of the food frenzy that takes us through to the end of the year.

October is filled not only with candy but other Halloween ‘goodies’ like carmel apples, carmel corn, heavily frosted cookies, and the list goes on!

Along comes November and Thanksgiving. And just like October, even though the actual holiday is at the end of the month, treats and heavy meals are everywhere we turn. Between the caloric laden pumpkin coffee drinks to the pre-holiday parties it’s a wonder any of us are still hungry by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

By that time we’ve all gained so much momentum we head straight into December surrounded by baked good, holiday parties and let’s not forget the egg nog.

Before we know it, New Years has arrived and as we rise out of the food coma that has taken us over for the past three months we re-commit to healthy living and smart eating habits.

I’d like to challenge you to resist the temptation of mindlessly following down the path of OVERindulgence.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that we need to allow ourselves the occasional treat. It’s next to impossible to have the willpower to resist every time, however, there are some things we can do to minimize the temptations that surround us.

Look for Healthy Alternatives

I’m not one for creativity or baking so I admire the time and effort that goes into making clever holiday treats. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays with healthy snacks. For instance, check out these 64 Non-Candy Halloween Snack Ideas! They look just as festive as those made with candy but much better for you and those you love.

Evaluate Your Options

When presented with a number of options, I take the time to look over all of my choices. I decide which ones are must-haves and which ones aren’t. For instance, when it comes to Thanksgiving, I choose stuffing over potatoes. Granted, stuffing isn’t a great choice but it’s one of the only times a year that I have it – so it’s a treat for me. And I know that I really don’t need both stuffing and potatoes.

Remember That Liquid Calories Count Too

Between the rich coffee drinks covered in whip cream and the cocktail options at the get-togethers, our consumption of liquid calories tends to increase over the holidays. There are a number of flavored coffees available for both brewing and Keurig machines that are tasty and reduce the sugar and caloric value of your warm beverage. When it comes to get togethers, many people end up gathering in the kitchen area. When you are near the wine or beer it’s very easy to just grab another, whereas if you move away from the options it takes effort to leave a conversation to get a refill. Be mindful of drinking a glass of water for every beverage you consume.

These are just a few ways to be successful in resisting the temptations that surround us during the holidays. Find what works best for you by thinking through your choices and you too can avoid the food coma of the holidays.

Tough Days Are Good Reminders

The holidays are a great time to enjoy rich foods, tasty cocktails and late nights with family and friends. I did all of those things and enjoyed every moment of it…until the alarm went off this morning.

Could it be time already to get back to reality? Was I really ready to start my day with a green smoothie?

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually stayed on track with my workouts – I ran in a Turkey Trot and still attended my Boot Camp classes. And I didn’t overindulge ALL day long; I at least tried to keep myself in check for the majority of the day to hold on to the most calories possible for the festivities. 

But today was a great reality check for me.

Lack of Preparation

Even though I knew today was the day to start clean eating I hadn’t taken the time to go to the store to buy the things I needed. So after Boot Camp I was hungry and ready for a green smoothie but only had about half of what I needed so off to the store I went. By the time I got home I had no patience do deal with the washing and the measuring so I opted for turkey on a slice of Ezekiel bread. Was it still a good choice, sure, but not how I wanted to start the day.

Lack of Sleep

During the week I do my best to stick to a pretty normal sleep schedule. I’m definitely not a morning person so anything I can do to get going in the morning is a huge help. Over the past week I had stayed up late, gotten up early some days, slept in late on others and completely ruined my established schedule. The result: this morning was complete struggle. Between trying to encourage 3 kiddos to get their things together for school and trying to motivate myself for the shock of the cold weather and Boot Camp, the 8 hours of sleep I got the night before didn’t seem like nearly enough.

Lack of ‘Good Food’

As I said, I didn’t completely blow my diet but I did indulge in things I don’t normally eat. I can tell while I didn’t lack in the quantity of calories, I definitely lacked in the quality of calories. It’s a little difficult to accurately describe but in short, my mind doesn’t seem as sharp, and my energy level (and motivation) is clearly lacking. 

So was today rough? Yes. Could it have been avoided? Yes. Would I have changed my past week? Yes, well some things.

I think we all need a break from a strict routine but we need to be mindful of how all of those decisions will work against us when we are ready to get back on track.

I’m thankful for the lessons of my tough day and in the future I’ll:

  • Take a little bit of extra time to get my shopping done the day before
  • Enjoy a night or two of staying up a little late but stick to my sleep schedule as much as possible
  • Carefully consider what is worth indulging in rather than having a little bit of everything 

So I would encourage you to not be discouraged by choices of the past holiday but learn from them. I know I have.

As a side note: check out the veggie turkey I made.