Editor’s note: The following was written by USANA Fitness Ambassador Erin Oprea.
The holidays can be a crazy time of year. From huge family gatherings to office parties and even colder weather, there are a lot of excuses floating around that can ruin your diet and fitness plans. But these aren’t reasons to lose hope and fall into lasting bad habits.
With the right plan in place, you can absolutely enjoy yourself while sticking to your healthy lifestyle.
Here are a few tips to help limit the impact the holiday season may have on your fitness.
Keep Fitness Fun and Family Oriented
The holidays are a great time to get your family involved in fun fitness activities. Grab your family and find a local 5K to get everyone out, moving, and enjoying the season together. My family and I run a 5K every holiday. It’s good bonding and it’s a great way to burn some calories before we eat a bunch of food. And holiday runs are just a fun environment.
Obviously not all family members are going to be at the same level of fitness—it’s just a matter of going out there together and enjoying the festivities. Some people are going to walk and some are going to run, and some might not finish. But the important thing is knowing you all got out there, got fresh air, and enjoyed it together.
If running isn’t your thing, nothing beats a good old-fashioned jump rope. When there’s no snow or ice on the ground, that’s my go-to favorite thing to do outside because it’s such a versatile piece of equipment. It’s something you can do anywhere. And you can easily do it in short bursts in a Tabata workout to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.
I love Tabata so much that I gave it an entire section in my book, The 4 x 4 Diet. Tabata is 20 seconds of high-intensity moves followed by 10 seconds of rest, done for eight rounds—a total of four minutes. There are lots of free Tabate time apps. Take a few minutes to look around and pick the one that works best for you.
After you have your timer, grab your friends and family, bundle up, head outside for some fresh air, hit start, and get some work done. Make a game out of it.
It’s OK to Enjoy Holiday Treats, Just Plan Ahead
Eating well during the holidays can be hard, but it’s possible. It’s all about planning ahead and picking and choosing.
Here are my favorite tricks.
- Take something healthy to share at holiday parties.
This means you’ll have at least one healthier option. And then just have little bits of all the other goodies. Enjoy a little bit in moderation, but have something you feel good about eating.
- Don’t stand next to the food table.
I have to repeat this one: Don’t park yourself right next to the food table. Those temptations are endless and you’re doomed for failure.
- Eat before you go to parties.
Never go to a party hungry. This isn’t just for the holiday season; this is a rule I live by. If you’re not starving when you go out, you can have enough to satisfy you and not feel like you have to eat everything. Food always looks better when you’re hungry.
- If you drink, drink in moderation.
Alcohol is not our friend, especially sugary, high-caloric drinks. Drink in moderation. Have a cocktail and then have a full glass of water before you go on to your next one. That will slow you down quite a bit.
Make Fitness Goals, Not Resolutions
Instead of making New Year’s resolutions this year, set small, attainable goals.
If you make a goal to lose 50 pounds but only see two pounds come off the first week—even though that is healthy weight loss—you’re going to think 50 pounds is forever away and that there’s no way you’re going to get there. That kind of negativity will just lead to failure.
But if you make small, attainable goals, such as focusing on drinking more water and less soda, you have something to build on the next week. Over time, those small, accomplished goals add up to huge results. And then when you attain those goals, you reward yourself. But not with food.
To me, the best reward is new workout clothes. But I’m not most people. I have clients who set weekly goals and put $5 in a jar when they hit them. And when they hit a monthly goal, they go out and buy something big with it.
But the most important trick about keeping up with your fitness goals through the holidays is to plan ahead. You have to plan out your activity. You have to plan out your food. You even have to pick and choose what days you’re going to be bad. That way, you’ll know in advance what days you’re going to be good.
And then all you have to worry about is having a fun, safe, and fit holiday.