It's almost Christmas, which means you're most likely trying to keep your healthy habits in check and hopefully achieve your goal of staying fit this holiday season. After all, you've been working hard in the gym (and probably even harder in the kitchen) all year, and you don't want to have anything to do with going haywire this year.
However, as the Christmas parties roll on and Christmas cookies fill the office break room, it can get a little harder to stick to your regular fitness schedule.
If this sounds familiar, let the stress roll off your shoulders as Harry Barnes, Lead Coach and Quality Manager for Legion Athletics, lays the groundwork for a stress-free, easy-to-use approach to getting the course fit for the holiday season keep.
You have 35 days to maintain your Fit holiday routine
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First, a healthy perspective: With Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve, "it's easy to see the holiday season as a succession of gluttony and excess," says Barnes.
However, if you're feeling overwhelmed by the fear of screwing it up, remember: "In the United States, there are 39 days from Thanksgiving to January 1st. And if we exclude the four public holidays listed above, we're left with 35 days to stay active, eat healthy, and maintain a healthy routine," Barnes says, putting into perspective how much time there is to maintain healthy habits while practicing the celebrations and eating a fit Christmas.
Stick to your routine without major breaks
Good news! During that time, and when Christmas dinner is ready, no hill sprints are required (unless you want to, of course), according to Barnes. Instead, "he looks at how we can keep a client's routine going without too many disruptions," says Barnes, as he sets his clients up for a successful vacation, providing them with a list of tools to choose from, if you want to implement any.
After all, vacation is for relaxing, recharging and unwinding. If all you do is count calories and fret over how you missed your Christmas workout, your holidays will be in the box. The key here is to stay consistent with a few small adjustments. "Consistency, especially over the long term, is key," says Barnes.
For example, to take it a little easier but still be consistent: "Turn the dial down a little — take a long walk instead of a jog, do a bodyweight routine instead of your usual weight circuit, and hit the gym three times a week instead." the usual five – but just don't let it reach zero,” says Barnes.
Small adjustments make a big difference when it comes to continuing your health habits. “Ultimately, we want to think of these adjustments as mild “damage control”; You don't punish yourself for having a good time and for enjoying certain foods," says Barnes. You just have to keep moving and eating in a way that makes you happy and nourishes your body.
Simply acknowledging that you'll probably eat a little more and exercise a little less, "So doing the opposite on these occasions—without demanding expectations or rigid programming—is a natural and gentle nudge back in a leaner direction. says Barnes.
Our bodies are primed to use excess calories
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"We actually don't gain as much weight as we think we do based on single bouts of overeating," says Barnes. In a study conducted at the University of Colorado, researchers put participants in a daily surplus of 1,400 calories. The result? After two weeks of overeating, they only gained three pounds. That's it.
“Of course, this is just one example and circumstances vary — food choices, activity levels, and stress all affect how much weight you gain or lose — but our bodies are equipped with tools to control our food intake gently down-regulating after bouts of overeating,” says Barnes. He explains that you're fidgeting more, you're less hungry, and you're generally exercising a little more intensely. In other words, you will put that extra energy to good use.
So the end of the calendar year isn't necessarily a runway of inevitable flat tires. "Instead, it's a time to see loved ones, take some time to relax, and just acknowledge that there can be some slight speeds at worst along the way toward your body composition goals," Barnes explains.
Avoid an all-or-nothing approach to a healthy Christmas
Worrying about holiday food can lead to an all-or-nothing approach, but that actually does more harm than good. During the holidays, many worry about excess calories, alcohol consumption, and missed workout days.
"As a result, we drastically reduced calories between celebrations, hoping to do as much of the 'damage' as possible," says Barnes.
Barnes explains that this type of behavior only promotes an unfavorable yo-yo effect. "We falsely add guilt to the holiday excess (we're likely to eat more as a result) and wear ourselves down to compensate for the inevitable indulgence," says Barnes. Simply put, you don't have to "earn" food or "catch up" time with friends and family.
As a corollary, Barnes suggests a gentle ebb and flow, which means if you overeat by a few thousand calories at Christmas, "don't cut your calories and crank up the HIIT for a few days," he says.
Rather, Barnes encourages you to use those calories for a productive cause. "Add a few more sets to your next workout, add another five pounds to the bar, or take a relaxing walk with your partner after dinner," suggests Barnes.
Simply put, Barnes encourages you to get back to your usual routine, with only a few minor adjustments at most. “That way, you avoid irrational eating habits, enjoy your holidays the right way, and let those extra calories work for you without extreme adjustments. After all, balance is essential.” He says, offering a much-needed perspective on combining fitness and holiday fun.
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And finally, "Remember, you're in the driver's seat," says Barnes.
"One trap many people fall into is that of dieting: never quite consistently slimming down for the holidays and then really going overboard during the holiday season, only to end up in the same position 12 months later," he explains.
However, by incorporating some of the key strategies Barnes recommends, such as: gained a few pounds at most.
For example, enjoy your loved ones, move your body in ways you enjoy, eat nutritious foods during the thirty-five days of the holiday season, and build memories that will last a lifetime.