From Halloween to New Years, people tend to fall off the fitness and / or the weight loss wagon. There are many factors that will even challenge the most disciplined of eaters and exercisers. Here is a list of things to beware of during the months of November - January with tips to avoid them from sabotaging your fitness goals:
1 - Change of seasons / weather and time - Setting the clocks back an hour and darkness arriving earlier each day can actually affect normal energy levels. Add in cold weather and the desire for your outdoor jogging / walking routine has decreased to a standstill. Stay on top of the fitness time squeeze, by getting the workout done before your day normally begins. Missing your daily workout can cause you to not burn 400-500 (or more) calories a day. This can seriously affect your weight gain during the Holidays.
TIPS: Even if it is 20-30 minutes of less sleep, you will find your daily productivity and energy levels will increase after spending a short period of time mixing in calisthenics / dumbbells for resistance training and a fast walk, run, bike, or other form of cardio intervals. If the weather is the culprit to you missing your daily runs of the previous six months, find an indoor option even if it is machine cardio. Another option is an indoor basketball court or similarly distanced area and try various pyramids while running from one end of the other increasing repetitions in such exercises as burpees, pushups, abs, squats. Make it hard with a weight vest. See Weight Vest Wednesday Article for ideas and the Burpee Pyramid.
2- Halloween candies / snacks in the house for the month of November - IF you have kids, you likely have trick or treat candies by the sack full. You may just have the treats that no one came to pick up laying around as well. This is an extra 1-2 pounds of weight and a trip to the dentist in the waiting.
TIPS: If you can, get the treats out of the house quickly. Give it away or hide it from easy access, as a piece of candy can add up to several consumed a day if you are not careful. That will add up to several hundred calories of sugar a day which means weight gain.
3 - Parties (Neighbors, Friends, Work, Sports, etc) are constant during Nov-Dec - Constant parties with friends and co-workers added to several hours a week of sitting and eating / drinking alcoholic beverages can crush your diet plans, Also, in the height of sports season, watching football, basketball, baseball, and/or hockey is another challenge you have to deal with during the final months of the year and beyond into the New Year. The amount of sedentary and unproductive time during your average sports week leads to lower productivity and higher caloric intakes.
TIPS: These are fun events that you should still attend, but be smart. Try a NO CARB NIGHT when at the party, focusing only on meats (proteins) and drinking water or unsweetened beverages during the party / event. Limit alcohol beverage to 1-2 max!
4 - Busy travel and shopping season: Travel and eating meals in restaurants added to a stressful shopping and traffic experience, only compounds upon each other for a double whammy of stress eating and huge meals in restaurants.
TIPS: Take your own food with you while shopping. Replace fast food with water, almonds, nuts, berries, and easy to store fruits kept in the car. This will help you not only fight the temptations of eating fast food, but will help you save money as well. Get your shopping done early and online to save the hassle.
5 - Big Family Meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Years, etc): Big family meals often come with busy travel days as well, maybe even a few nights in hotels, eating at restaurants or family homes where the Holiday snacks are plentiful. The calories are high during these family feasts.
TIPS: Prior to Thanksgiving do a butt kicking workout, then you will at least not feel guilty for hogging the turkey and mashed potatoes. Once again, try to limit the carbs to a few and eat plenty of turkey, boiled eggs, and salads. Beware the big day of football on Thanksgiving! It is easy to sit idle for hours, taking naps with a full stomach, only to eat and drink more through the day.
Don't wait for New Year's to get started. In fact, you may need less of a New Year's Resolution if you can gain control of the next two months. Studies show that the average weight gain during the months of November - December people will gain in between 1-5 lbs. The low end is not that big of a deal overall, but the average weight gain the entire year is typically 1-2 lbs. for adults, but this weight stays on typically. And if you are overweight, that average increases to 5+lbs just during the Nov-Dec months.
Stew Smith CSCS - If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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