Our favourite time of the year is almost here, and this means fantastic festivities, gift exchanges and of course, loads of feasting. But let’s face it – everyone wants to leave a Christmas party with a nice present and a full tummy, but not an extra ‘souvenir’ on the waistline!
Studies show that holiday weight gain is not just something to lament about after that third hearty serving.
Many people don’t realise that they can easily gain an extra pound or two during all the merrymaking, but that this stubborn extra weight remains long after the holidays are over. To top it off, holidays are always a great excuse to skip our workout routines, as we just want to take it easy and relax.
So, how do we enjoy ourselves during the holidays without feeling guilty afterwards? These tips will show you how to stay fit, confident and healthy this season, while not missing out on any fun!
Prepare for the holiday with a workout mindset, as staying committed to continued physical activities will not only keep your weight in check; staying active will also keep your energy levels up.
1. Get your game plan on
If you have an existing workout routine, but you are unsure if you can keep to it, you can tone it down during the holidays instead of completely suspending it. So, instead of working out 3 to 4 times a week, you can probably cut it down to twice a week. You can also consider cutting down the number of hours per workout, or the number of reps for a particular exercise.
But if you don’t have a routine yet, now is not the time to go all out! Start small and plan an achievable workout schedule based on your specific fitness goals. The easiest way is to engage in regular cardio activities like, jogging, cycling, or swimming (even fun activities like zumba!) to burn what you’ve eaten. Or if you’re concerned about gaining extra tummy fat this season, consider regular plank exercises and running intervals.
Choose suitable workouts based on your fitness level and how much time you plan to commit. Also, avoid being overly-ambitious and take it one step at a time.
Pro-tip: Get the ball rolling by treating yourself to brand new workout clothes from Sportslink, Adidas, Liv Activ and 2XU, or swimwear from Sun Paradise. Once you’re decked out in new sporty outfits, you’ll have no excuse to procrastinate!
2. Cultivate the habit of working out
Put those plans into action and establish a solid routine before all the partying starts. Inertia is your greatest enemy, so if you have trouble starting, a fun fitness class will get you moving! Besides keeping you in the right holiday workout mindset, you’ll meet like-minded people whom you can count on for support if you ever feel discouraged.
For an effective cardio session that does not feel like a workout, check out the super fun Bbounce Studio. Or sweat it out at Anytime Fitness or Gymboxx Silver, both open for 24 hours! For an authentic yoga practice that will keep your mind and body in tip top health, sign up for classes at Real Yoga.
Pro-tip: If you manage to squeeze in a solo workout, here’s how you can motivate yourself – make that treadmill jog extra fun by watching your favourite TV show as you run, and aim to keep at it for a full episode.
When the Parties Kick in…
Now that you’ve established a workout routine, the next thing you need to tackle are the delectable temptations in each party’s table spread!
3. Don’t arrive hungry
If you think that skipping lunch will ‘save stomach space’ for a dinner feast, think again. Unfortunately, an effective diet does not work this way. In fact, eating irregularly and only when you feel really hungry is counterproductive because when you skip meals, you start to crave more fatty and sugary foods as well as carbs. Being on an empty stomach also causes your body to store more calories, which increases belly fat and spikes cholesterol levels. And when you turn up at a party famished, overeating will be harder to control, especially when faced with platters of festive goodies. So, stick to regular meals and if you feel peckish, munch on a nutritious snack bar before setting off. This helps to regulate your appetite so that you can be more selective about what ends up on your plate.
4. Pace yourself
Research has shown that it takes about 20 minutes for your body to register that you are full. When you eat too quickly, you consume much more than what your body actually needs. Spot all your favourite desserts on the same tray? Before you swoop in on them, remember this: Space. It. out. Grab a slice of that irresistible chocolate cake, then walk away. Take some time to catch up with an old friend or play a round of cards. Once you return to the food counter, your body will have registered that a sweet craving was satisfied and you’ll be less inclined to go for another sugary helping.
5. Choose your crockery
How often do we eat just because the food looks so good? There is nothing wrong with wanting to taste everything from the buffet spread, so go for smaller portions! A simple trick to portion control your food is to eat off smaller plates and if you have the option, use red plates. A smaller plate gives the illusion that you are eating a large portion and this will stop you from piling up your plate, while studies have shown that red crockery may help to reduce one’s appetite.
6. Bring Your Own Food
The best way to be careful about what you eat is to make your own food. If you’re planning or hosting a party, suggest a home cooked pot-luck. Not only can you control how healthy (or unhealthy) the dish can be, but you can also impress with delectable dishes like this lamb chops recipe, or this refreshing Autumn Orchard Salad that will be a welcome option among meat-heavy dishes. We also love these three guilt-free pasta dishes that are easy to whip up and we guarantee these healthy homemade donuts will be a sure-hit at any party!
7. Don’t quit the exercise
No time to head to the gym because you just RSVP-ed to a class reunion? That’s no excuse to hit the pause button on your workouts! With plenty of home-fitness equipment out there, you can keep your body in shape while partying the holiday season away.
Resistance bands are some of the hottest equipment lately, and here’s why: they can be used for plenty of exercises while being light-weight, convenient and super easy to use! They are great for simple arm-sculpting exercises that can help to keep flabby arms at bay. Since they’re so easy to lug around, keep one in your office – you never know when you’ll need a quick workout to let off steam.
Another popular fitness gear is the exercise ball that’s fun to use and can help to keep your abs, thighs and bum in good shape, so you won’t have to fret about fitting into your New Year’s outfit!
Or, if you’re taking a break from regular yoga classes, stay on form with 10-minute sun salutations every morning. Be sure to have your trusty yoga mat with you! It will also come in handy for plank exercises and push-ups.
So, beat holiday weight gain with these tips! All you need is some discipline and a little nudge to stay on top of the game. Happy holidays!