According to Active.com, the average American gains about 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to many of you. The combination of shorter days, colder temperatures, and endless holiday goodies make it very difficult to stay on track.
While winter is the perfect time to slow your role and hang with the fam, it doesn’t mean you have to let yourself go. Here are a few tips for dodging the holiday pudge this season.
Don’t arrive to parties or gatherings hungry. Have you ever shopped at the grocery store or went to a buffet when you felt famished? Bad idea! Ditch the “save room” theory when it comes to attending family dinners and holiday parties. By doing this, you’ll avoid over indulging on foods that are (typically) not very good for you.
Shorten your workouts, but increase the intensity: With shorter days and longer, colder nights, many people find it increasingly challenging to find time for running/exercise. No problem. Just increase the quality of your workouts and decrease the quantity. A few hill sprints or interval workouts are sure to get your fat burners buzzin’, even if the total volume of the workout is a little less than what you’re used to.
Hit up some indoor classes at your gym, like yoga, pilates, kickboxing or zumba. It’s definitely getting cold outside—and let’s face it: you may not always be in the mood for frozen snot-cicles and numb feet caused by outdoor running. That’s okay! Just make sure you’re moving, whether it’s inside or out. Many gyms offer a ton of classes that target every muscle group in your body.
Make sure you are catching your z’s and counting your sheep. Have you ever noticed that we, as a culture, tend to praise lack of sleep? Just think of the college student who, with a proud tone says, “pulled an all nighter again.” Or the hard working blue collar worker or entrepreneur that works long hours and sleeps very little. While hard work is a virtue, sleep deprivation is a very steep price to pay. Many doctors and medical professionals believe there is a direct correlation between weight gain and sleep deprivation. The National Sleep Foundation says that 7-8 hours is sufficient for optimal function. However, if your stress level is higher than normal, or your workout regimen has skyrocketed—you may need to add a few more hours.
De-stress. When we’re under a lot of stress, we tend to crave high sugar, high carb foods. Why? When we feel threatened or pressured, our bodies release the hormones adrenalin (which gives us instant energy), corticotophin, and cortisol (which increases the appetite, helping the body replenish itself after stress). Evolutionarily, these hormones have been crucial for the survival of the human species, but don’t quite serve the same purpose in today’s garden of stressors. Everybody has their “go-to’s” when it comes to stress relief. Some of the best are yoga/stretching, meditation, a hot bath with aromatic oils, massage, or reading. Whatever it is that helps you relax, make it an important task on your to-do list.
For many people (yes, even runners) winter creates new challenges in life. Be prepared by keeping yourself healthy, joyous, and rested in the months to come. 🙂
Speaking of holidays, have you signed up for the Turkey Trek on 11/23? It’ll be a great having fun and moving in the Thanksgiving season!