The last few months of the year marks the beginning of an epic battle for those of us working towards a personal fitness goal … “The Battle of the Bulge”. Thanksgiving (whether it’s celebrated in October or November) triggers a series of events known for their excessive calorie consumption, high stress levels and ability to distract even the most devout gym member. In the end, ten months (or more) of hard work may up setting you back to square one come New Year’s with yet another resolution to lose weight and get fit (again).
Thanksgiving is known for turkey dinner, pumpkin (or pecan) pie, stuffing, gravy and all the fixin’s. Along with that comes all the calories and stress that come with last-minute travel, (potentially) unpleasant family get togethers, four thousand calorie meals and the comatose aftermath, and all the turkey-stuffing-cranberry sauce sandwiches that follow. Immediately following the “turkey-fest” is the most stressful shopping day of the year … “Black Friday”. For some, it may be a full day of calorie burning activity, going from store to store and shopping ’til you drop. For most, it’s a day of standing in line or eating another few thousand calories in the mall food court.
Christmas then rolls around a few weeks later … another holiday designed for the “sweet tooth” at heart (in the same realm as Halloween, Easter and Valentine’s Day). The whole month of December is filled with chocolates, cakes and cookies, candy canes, gingerbread houses and then … MORE TURKEY! Most companies also choose to host their annual parties and events around the holidays … adding even more calories and missed workouts to list of mishaps that lead to more inches on the waist and pounds on the scale.
Finally, New Year’s Day hits and the whole world takes 24 hours to celebrate new beginnings and starting back at square one. The day after the fireworks and champagne, reality kicks in, we take a long look in the mirror, step on the scale (disappointed), and vow to do it all over again.
This is a cautionary tale that many of us have experienced at least one time in our lives … but we DON’T have to relive it year after year.
Ten Ways to Prevent the “Nasty” Holiday Bulge
The Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides, organizations that have been around since the early 1900’s, can’t go wrong with a motto like, “Be Prepared”. The same rules apply when it comes to preparing for (and preventing) the holiday bulge that can ruin the start of the new year. Below is a list of ten ways to beat the battle of the bulge this upcoming holiday season:
- Write every event down in your calendar. You already know of every party, get-together, and night out months in advance. Be sure to put everything in a calendar (including your workouts and other “not so fun” responsibilities) to ensure you are able to find balance between your fun and the promises you make to yourself and others.
- Keep up with your scheduled workouts. Your workouts (as noted above) are appointments you make with yourself … for your own good. Don’t sacrifice all the hard work you’ve put in the 9+ months before the holidays begin for a few turkey dinners, weekends filled with baked goods, the constant flow of wine glasses and cocktails, and an endless supply of treats in the office break room. Make time for your workouts and start the new year ahead of the game!
- Load up on fruits and vegetables at the dinner table. Although holiday dinners are known for an unbelievable number of calories and excess … there are ALWAYS healthier options to choose from. Fill up your plate with two-thirds vegetables and fruits and leave the other third for the “fun” foods!
- Participate in a 5K “Turkey Trot” or local fundraiser. Typically scheduled on Thanksgiving morning, the Turkey Trot is a North American tradition designed to take the guilt out of the indulgent evening meal. Not only is this a great way to burn some calories, most Turkey Trot events are also fundraiser for local charities. For a minimal cost you get a great workout, meet some new people, and give to a great cause!
- Get up and DANCE!! Companies are more likely to host their annual parties during the holidays. These events often times include lots of food, an well-stocked bar, and … a band. Why not take advantage of the music and fun times and burn some calories on the dance floor?!?! You can have fun with your colleagues and avoid the negative effects of the added calories the next day!
- Drink lots of water. During the holidays you are most likely consuming more salt in your foods and alcohol in your drinks than any other time of year. Instead of reaching for another glass or wine or ordering a second Starbucks latte to get through the day consider filling up your water bottle. Water can act to detoxify the body and can help you avoid the negative effects of excess food and drink from the night before.
- Get to bed early and avoid the holiday stress. There is a lot of hard work involved in preparing for (and participating in) holiday events. The cooking, cleaning, travel, and partying take up a lot of extra time in addition to your already hectic schedule. Be conscious of the time and be sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should get approximately 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep each night for good health. We all enjoy sleep … so don’t deprive yourself!
- Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum. With most parties comes the opportunity to enjoy alcoholic beverages (i.e., beer, wine and spirits). It’s a time for celebration and enjoying relaxing times with friends, family and coworkers. When the alcohol is free … we also tend to overindulge and drink more than might be best. In an effort to be both “responsible” and to avoid those hidden calories, keep your drink count to a minimum.
- Keep tempting foods and leftovers out of sight. Because most of rely on our sense of sight more than our other senses it’s best to keep the things that will tempt us … out of sight! When you are done with turkey dinner or the guests have gone home for the evening, be sure to wrap up all the leftovers and put them back in the fridge. If possible, pack up boxes of leftovers for your guests for them to take home. This will help you to reduce the number of unnecessary calories from your diet during the crazy holiday season.
- Consider hosting your own event and invite friends and family. Rather than become a victim to the foods and beverages at events and parties hosted by others, why not host an event at your own house that is completely under your control? There are several heart healthy recipes that keep the calories to a minimum and taste great! Websites with some great options include:
FITNESS 911 to the Rescue
For more tools and resources to help you get through the crazy holiday season … and outline a plan of attack to beat the “Battle of the Bulge”, click here to learn more about the new support program now being offered by TodaysFitnessTrainer.com. For those of you looking for some additional help, you can download 20 pages of free tools (giving you a glimpse of what FITNESS 911 has to offer) to help you get through the next few months by clicking here.
The holidays are only couple of months out of the year but they can reverse a full year of hard work at the gym and healthy eating choices as you work towards reaching your long term fitness goal. Don’t venture into these events without a strategy or a plan that will ensure you enjoy time with friends and family while still maintaining the results your achieved so far!