FitLab wants to tell you that you don't have to put on weight, nor miss out on your festive indulgences. We have put together a few holiday guidelines to live by inspired by Fitbie.com's latest "Avoid Holiday Weight Gain and Stress" article.
Start every day with 4 minutes of exercise
It's no help that around very corner you are being bombarded with holiday cheer and temptation but if you manage a 4-minute high intensity workout everyday like our Tabata sessions, which are just as good as a 30-minute cardio workout, you are well on your way to fighting off the baggage before even putting it on.
Cheat days, not a cheat month
It's not your Christmas lunch or dinner, or the New Year's Eve party that sends your scale on a fast upswing. It's slacking off for the entire festive period. The worst mindset to have over the Christmas Holidays is "Oh well, I will get back on track in January". Don't fall off the track to begin with. Allow yourself your cheat days, but don't allow these slip-ups to destroy the rest of your holiday.
Allow yourself one treat everyday
Christmas is all about giving and we are not trying to punish you by saying "Be good all the time". You can reward yourself with a small treat everyday, like a small biscuit with coffee in the morning, or a little wedge of dark chocolate. Don't deprive yourself into such a state of avoiding any treats that being presented with a plate of cookies sends you into a whirlwind binge and you end up finishing them all. Start fresh everyday and save your splurges for the actual holidays: Christmas lunch or dinner, New Years Eve party.
Eat at the dining room table, or turn the television off
Focus on the food on your plate and not everything going on around you. It's recently been proven in the Appetite Journal that "multi-task eating is mindless eating". When you are eating in front of the television, or reading whilst piling food into your mouth, you are unlikely to be fully aware of what and how much food you are eating which results in unconsciously overeating.
Melt work-stress whilst still sitting at your chair
If you are not lucky enough to experience a full four weeks off from work over the festive season, an easy breathing technique can help lighten the load of work stress, and lighten the load from your spine since you'll be sitting at a desk most of the time. In your office chair, spread your legs a little wider than hip-distance apart. Fold forward allowing your torso to hang toward the floor in between your thighs. Grab your elbows with your hands and let your head hang as you take in a few deep breaths. Switch the crossing of the elbows and hold for a few more minutes.
There's always time for exercise on the weekends
We know it's a busy season, but the best time to make time for an effective gym session, or a nice jog is on the weekends. Don't be lazy and do nothing. Wake up half an hour earlier and hit the road for a 30 minute jog.
Rewarding yourself doesn't have to be about finally giving in to that chocolate slab with a "rational" explanation as to why you deserve it. Get a pen and paper and write out a list of non-food related treats that you could reward yourself with. It can be anything from taking a long hot bubble bath, to getting a massage, to reading a book, or even spending time with your pets. You could also buy something that makes you feel good like a new perfume.
Get outdoors and play
The fresh air, the bout of activity, there is nothing better. Try get active outdoors everyday. Play some lawn tennis, go for walks in the Cascades trails, just try do something that will get you out there and active. Involve your kids, and your pets. They could all do with a bit of fresh air and appreciation for the outdoors.
Summer time - Summer rains
So you braved the afternoon Summer rains for a run and your shoes got a little wet. Leaving them out to dry is fine and all but they might not be dry enough by the time you next want to use them, and there is "that smell". Here's a cool little trick: pull the insoles out of the shoes and leave them aside to dry. Stuff the insides of your shoes with some crumpled newspaper - this will absorb the moisture and any smell a lot quicker than simply leaving them out to dry themselves.
Choosing comfort foods wisely
For whatever reason, you might find yourself turning to comfort food over the holiday period. Usually we turn to the bad carbs for pick-me-ups like pizza, macaroni cheese, cookies, cakes, etc. They make you feel better sure, but they are also going to make you fatter. Turn to the "healthier carb" options for those pick-me-ups like sweet potatoes and air-popped popcorn. Carbohydrates high in fibre are always winners in our book. This non-digestible nutrients makes you feel fuller faster and sustains you for longer.
Before the guests arrive
Relieve some of the stress you might experience when expecting a hoard of guests to knock on your front door by performing this two-move sweat session. All you need is a set of stairs and to perform these exercises for two or three rounds.
Place your right foot on the second step with your left on the floor. Quickly switch your legs so your right foot is on the floor and your left is on the second step. Rapidly exchange legs in this way for 20 times.
Place your hands on the third step, your feet on the floor. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the step. Push back to start and repeat 15 times.
Shopping stress - perform this stretch
Calf muscles are tight on most people and feel even worse after a marathon day of Christmas shopping. Perform the curb-side calf stretch to relieve the pain, re-energise, and make flat ground feel great again. Find the nearest curb and stand on the street placing the balls of your feet on the curb. Stand as straight as possible and breathe. Hold the stretch for 5 to 10 breaths.
Festive functions - don't show up with an empty stomach
Eat a balanced meal first before heading for the treat table at your office party. Have a few treats but keep your concentration on socialising, not snacking.
Drink lots of water
Drinking lots of water before you head out for a festive function will benefit your belly. It is great for losing weight, but it is even better for keeping the weight off.
Wrapping prezzies and lifting spirits
When you are knee-deep in pretty papers, sticky tape and shiny red and green tinsel, keep your posture in check. It's easy to get to the point where you are slumped over in an almost collapsed position so when you start feeling like you can't wrap another present, perform this short posture correction stretch. Sit up straight in a chair and lift your breastbone whilst rolling your shoulders back and down. Feel your collarbone spreading wide. Lengthen your whole spine up towards the ceiling. Take a few deep breaths and then get back to work - you have a million prezzies to wrap.
Keep track of your steps
It's a busy time of year and sometimes it's easy to give into being lazy. Most phone's now days have built in pedometers, and if not, let that be an early Christmas gift to yourself, get a pedometer. Set yourself a daily target of let's say 10000 steps, when you have a pedometer you will get there sooner than you expect as you are already doing so much. But if you don't have a little gadget like this, it's easy to think you have been busy and just flop onto the couch.
Sleep in to lose more
Sleep boosts your body's levels of Leptin which is a natural protein that signals your brain to stop eating. So catch a few extra winks by heading to bed a little earlier the night before Christmas so you can push away from the table sooner on Christmas day.
The day after
Holidays are supposed to be about time with family - everything has been a mad rush up until this point. The day after Christmas is probably the first break you have had all holiday. Plan a day trip to the Drakensberg for a hike, or spend the day on the dam fishing or swimming.
Make resolutions that you can keep. Set measurable goals! When you do something that feels good, like achieving a New Years resolution, your body releases dopamine, the chemical responsible for the feel-good-feeling. So break bigger goals into smaller, more attainable goals so you can get to achieving and feeling great!