As summer quickly comes to an end, the days start getting shorter, the temperatures start dropping, clothes start getting warmer and we are all once again faced with the reality that the holidays will soon be upon us. While the holidays can be a fun and eventful time filled with family and friends, they can also be a time when we over-indulge, lose sight of our waistline and inevitably toss our fitness goals to the side with the intent to revive them in the new year.
These simple tips will guarantee that you enjoy all your holiday festivities and indulgences without having to sacrifice your healthy lifestyle and not make "getting back into shape" your New Year's resolution, again.
Managing Holiday Parties
Always attend parties and events on a full stomach. Have you ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach? It can end up in disaster. The same principle applies to social gatherings, holiday parties and get-togethers. Inevitably holiday parties are going to be filled with unhealthy snacks and treats that are filled with sugar, bad fats and simple carbohydrates. If you show up to the party starving, you are almost guaranteed to start shoveling excessive calories down your throat all night long. Instead, have a healthy and nutritious meal or snack before arriving to the party.
If you're going directly from work, pack a healthy snack ahead of time or grab something as easy as a protein shake. When you get to the event, scan the food items, select a few indulgences to try, place them on a small plate or napkin and then proceed to socialize away from the food tables. A satiated stomach is much more inclined to make more sensible and selective food choices. Keeping yourself occupied with your friends instead of food will ensure you leave the party without a caloric binge.
Managing Holiday Drinks
Keep your liquor-intake to a minimum. Let's be honest, alcohol is part of almost any social event. Alcohol also comes with a lot of calories that contain no nutritive value, are often mixed with high calorie and sugary mixers, and can induce hunger – remember that last time you were drunk and ended up at the Taco/Burrito place at 4 am? Having a few drinks in moderation isn't going to derail you from having a good time or your healthy lifestyle, just make sure you make smart choices.
When drinking, always make sure to choose a low calorie mixer. Steer clear of sugary filled sodas, juices or tonics. Fruity drinks like margaritas, chocolate martinis and egg nog contain alcohol and lots of empty calories from sugar, as well. Stick to drinks like wine, champagne and hard liquor on the rocks or mixed with seltzer water. Remember to pace yourself. I always rotate between alcoholic drinks and water throughout the night, which allows me to still feel social but also in control. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means you'll need the extra water to stay hydrated anyway.
The pressure is usually on during get-togethers to drink as much as possible, but you can usually avoid this by having a simple glass of seltzer or a sparkling water in a cocktail glass with a twist of lime. No one will be the wiser. You'll still be in control. You'll feel better the next day and you'll make better food choices. You may even make it to the gym instead of nursing a hangover the next morning.
Managing Holiday Workouts
Make you workouts fast and effective in order to prioritize your social calendar for the holiday season. Many of us waste time at the gym. We spend time doing long bouts of cardio. We socialize. We lift weights and then check our phone between sets. Workouts don't have to be long and drawn out to be effective. In fact, research has shown that higher intensity, lower duration workouts are more effective at burning calories and keeping you metabolic throughout the day. That means that you'll be burning more calories once you leave the gym and hit up that social event later.
To get the most bang for your buck during a socially demanding time of year, stick to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Try supers-setting exercises with little to no rest in between sets to keep your heart rate up. Incorporate more total body movements and compound exercises that work multiple muscles into your routine to expand your caloric expenditure and get you sweating. You can also incorporate short bursts of high intensity cardio intervals like jumping rope, plyometrics, boxing or burpees in between your resistance training to kill two birds with one stone.
If you want to mix things up, try taking a group fitness class or a boot camp class. Group classes tend to center the programming around total body workouts that are fun, motivating and on a strict schedule that keeps you on your schedule.
Many of us worry about the upcoming holidays and add more stress to an already stressful and busy time of year. The holidays are just a time when we need to be more conscious of our choices while celebrating with loved ones, friends and family.
These simple tools can help you get out and enjoy the holiday festivities while still maintaining your waistline and accommodating your healthy lifestyle. Remember, living a healthy lifestyle is about maintaining a healthy balance and understanding moderation while still enjoying life to its fullest. Here's to you and yours for a fit and fun holiday season this year.
Aaron Guy is an Elite Personal Trainer based in Hollywood CA. Aaron has been involved with personal fitness for 20 years. He holds the highest level of achievement presented by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as one of their Master Trainers (MT), a rigorous program limited to the most elite trainers in the industry. Aaron's contributions can be found in Men's Journal, Men's Fitness and Queerty. Follow Aaron on Facebook, Twitter Instagram and AaronGuy.com.