Don’t Wait Until January to Be the Best You!
According to a recent Cornell University study, our weight is at its lowest throughout the year around the beginning of October. Why is that? We tend to be more health-conscious and active throughout the summer months, but beginning in October, we start to pack on the pounds with our weight peaking in January. The main culprit—all that hard-to-resist food during Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah.
Not surprisingly, the study also finds that the more we put on, the harder it is to lose and the more likely we are to carry some of that extra weight into the following summer.
January is when many of us decide to hit the gym, join a new class or eat healthy again. But why wait until all the holidays are over to take better care of ourselves? Here are a few tips that will help keep you on track with your health and fitness goals, even during those challenging holiday months.
Exercise in the Morning
While it may take some time to get comfortable with an early-morning workout routine, the benefits are worth putting in the effort. Kick-starting your day with exercise will help you feel better while setting you up for health and fitness success. It will help to boost your metabolism, give you more energy to tackle the day’s challenges and motivate you to make smarter food choices throughout the day. Waking up early to exercise may also make you feel more tired at the end of the day, allowing you to get a better night’s sleep—a healthy amount of sleep will help keep your appetite in check and metabolism on track.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Be sure to set aside some time in the morning for a healthy breakfast. It will fill you up so you don’t feel as much hunger and temptation later in the day when cravings are harder to control. You don’t want to be skipping breakfast because there’s an office potluck that day. Banking calories doesn’t work and just makes you want to eat more, later. A well-balanced breakfast includes protein, whole grains, fruits and/or vegetables. If you’re tight on time, prepare something the day before like overnight oats with peanut butter and banana.
Make Smart Food Choices and Minimize Alcohol
Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a challenging time to stay on track with your health and fitness goals. Temptations abound and it’s easy to get carried away. But it’s possible to have a good time and still make smart choices at all those holiday gatherings. Opt for protein, fibre and healthy-fat rich foods like turkey, lentils, quinoa, avocado and veggies. Avoid added sugars and simple carbs as much as possible. Alcohols like wine, beers and sugary cocktails are full of extra calories. Consider low-calorie drinks such as vodka soda, gin and tonic, champagne or a mojito with half the simple syrup.
A Short Workout is Better than No Workout
Between work events and family dinners, the holidays are a busy time of year and it may seem impossible to squeeze in an hour workout some days. But just because you can’t get in your usual full routine, doesn’t mean you should skip it all together. A 15-minute run on the treadmill or a 15-minute yoga flow is very beneficial and keeps your metabolism moving. You can even break out your regular routine into shorter sessions throughout the day. Current research suggests that shorter, higher intensity exercises can give you better results than longer, slower paced workouts.
Keep Motivation High
If you’re stuck in a rut or your regular fitness routine is not enough to keep you motivated this time of year, change things up to pump up your excitement. Try a new group class like Pilates Reformer or TRX, take some personal training sessions to improve your technique and learn new skills, or bring a buddy to help motivate you. Working out with a friend is a great way to stay on track because you motivate each other with a little healthy competition. Grab a racquet and invite a friend to a squash or tennis game, you’ll have fun and get a good workout in at the same time.
Set Realistic Goals and Stay Positive
You want to enjoy the holidays without restricting yourself too much. You don’t have to say no to all those holiday goodies—indulge in the things you love most, just do so in moderation. Before going out, set realistic goals like allowing yourself one cupcake at the office party but not five. That way you fulfill your craving but without compromising on your health and fitness goals. If you do go a bit overboard on occasion, don’t punish yourself. Stay positive and focus on all the ways you’re being the best you all year-round.