By Adrienne Jack
When it’s minus degrees outside and your couch is luring you into an all-day Netflix binge, staying active might be the last thing on your agenda – especially during the holiday season. To top it off, holiday celebrations usually involve food. Lots of it.
But don’t you remember that New Year’s resolution you made to stay healthy all year, this time? To keep you motivated, here are 12 ways to maintain a clean lifestyle from Thanksgiving all the way through to this New Year.
- Set a Goal
Setting a tangible goal is a great way to benchmark your progress before you get started. This could be a target weight, a 30-day meal plan, or aiming to nail that yoga pose you’ve almost broken your nose attempting.
- Get Outside
Although it’s freezing out, snowy weather actually provides a great opportunity to get out and have some fun. Wrap up warm, get some friends together, and try a winter activity you haven’t before: such as snowshoeing (1,000 calories burned/hr), ice skating (500 calories/hr), or a good old snowball fight (400-800 calories/hr).
- Or, Keep It Inside
Perhaps you’re not the outdoorsy type, but there’s still no excuse not to be on the move. Indoor cardio exercises like jump rope, stair stepping, or pushups can be just as effective. Try committing to daily challenges, like experimenting with a new bodyweight exercise every day or building up your reps.
- Take the Stairs
Small changes to the way you carry out everyday activities can make a huge difference in the long run. Vow to take the stairs instead of the elevator everywhere you go – whether in and out of subways, parking garages, or your office. (We’ll let you off the hook if you’re on the fifteenth floor.) Try standing while working rather than sitting down to burn and extra 50 calories an hour (equal to the amount of running TEN marathons in a year if you do this for just 3-4 hours a day!). Keep a small set of weights at your desk and commit to doing 10 reps every half hour.
Moving just a little more will not only help to get your blood moving and the calories burning, it will also help you to stay focused and alert during the day.
- Sign Up
Trick yourself into staying in shape by signing up for a race or hiking trip that takes place early next year. This way, you will have something to look forward to and a goal to work for. There’s no backing out now!
- Buddy Up
It’s much easier to drag yourself off to the gym or on walks around your neighborhood when you have someone to accompany you. By the same token, it’s much hard to get yourself to commit when your partner, roommate, or coworker tempts you with bad treats and tasty leftovers. Recruit a buddy to hold you accountable (of course, you should return the favor for him/her) and to keep you company at the gym. Even if it’s just your dog.
Breaking out the big guns: Sometimes the easiest way to recruit buddies is to challenge them to a weight loss/fitness competition. Up the stakes by putting money on the line! If you live alone or just can’t find anyone nearby who is ready to commit to working off the pounds this holiday season, try reaching out to other friends on Facebook and starting a secret weight loss fitness group. Post your stats, goals, successes, and daily inspiration.
- Rethink It
As tempting as the last gingerbread cookie might be, do you really want it – or are you tempted only because it’s there? Before indulging in that treat, give it about a half hour of consideration. You may completely talk yourself out of it!
When faced head-to-head with the dessert table, decide on just one item that you want and start with a small portion. Oftentimes, we cut ourselves a huge slice of pie that we force ourselves to finish because its on the plate, but we really only need a bite just to get the taste and satisfy the craving. Cut a small slice and allow yourself to enjoy it.
- Eat Low to High
Fill up your plate with the green stuff first! If you start each meal with a low-calorie soup or salad, then move on to a lean protein as part of your main course, then by the time you’ve reached the pecan pie you’ll only have room for a sliver. Genius, we know.
- Get Merry – but Not Too Merry
On average, adults get 100 of their daily calories from alcohol. It would be unrealistic, of course, to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether at the Christmas party. But by alternating between holiday punch and water, you’ll more easily avoid over-consumption – and a hangover.
- Got Eggnog?
Speaking of alcohol, do you know what’s in your eggnog? Most store-bought eggnog products contain lots of additives and sugar, so you’re better off making your own low-fat, organic batch at home. This recipe requires nonfat milk, orange or lemon zest, vanilla bean, egg, sugar (try natural cane), corn starch, nutmeg, and optional white rum or bourbon.
- Write It Down
Keeping a food diary will help you stay committed to your goals; at the same time, having your food habits written down in black and white can help raise alarm bells when it’s time to scale back. You can keep track on the go – here are a few smartphone apps you might want to try.
- Be Kind to Yourself
You’re only human, and this is the one time of year you’re allowed to go a little wild. So don’t be hard on yourself – we all deserve to enjoy a little indulgence guilt-free over the holidays. The key is not to let one “bad” day turn into a bad week or bad month. Enjoy your holiday with loved ones and then wake up and get right back on track. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve through sheer determination.