Stay Fit This Holiday
Season By Ben Kallen
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The holidays shouldn't leave you looking
like a bowlful of jelly. As fun as the holiday season is, it can be rough on
your fitness program. Bad weather, stress, and lack of time can sap your
motivation, while parties, visitors, and vacations can distract you from your
workouts. It's no wonder so many people gain weight in November and December,
only to regret it in January.
But it doesn't have to be that way. You can
keep up or even improve your fitness level, stave off weight gain, and enjoy
the holidays as much as ever. Just stick with the following guidelines.
- Manage your time.
Scheduling your workouts in advance, either with a printed
workout calendar or online with
WOWY Supergym®, is always a good idea. But it's
especially important over the holidays, when just saying "I'll do it when I
have time" can be a recipe for failure. Your free time is sure to get filled up
with other activities, and it's easier than ever to forget about working out.
On the other hand, if you schedule your workouts just like any appointments,
you're much more likely to do them when the time comes. (Better still, invite
some Workout Buddies to join you for extra
absolutely can't find time on a particular day, mark it as a recovery period,
and make sure you have a workout scheduled for the day afterward. It'll prevent
you from losing the fitness gains you've built, and ensure that you keep your
exercise habit intact.
- Keep up
holiday period is marked by flurries of frantic activity followed by a worn-out
feeling, you're not alone. But you can shorten those "dragging" periods with
these healthy habits:
- Stick to your food plan.
Loading up on high-carb holiday treats can cause
blood sugar fluctuations that leave you feeling tired, while subsisting on
rushed snacks or skipping meals entirely prevents you from getting the fuel you
need. But regular, high-quality meals and snacks will keep you running at top
speed, whether you're working out or fighting over the last Dora the Explorer
doll in the toy store.
- Take time to relax.
A meditation session, a round of yoga, or just a few
minutes sitting with a hot drink or your favorite music will go a long way
toward recharging your batteries.
- See the light.
If your energy takes a nosedive in the wintertime,
you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, a mood-dampening
condition caused by too little light exposure. See if you perk up after getting
more rays (either by spending more time outside on sunny days, or by using a
full-spectrum light box). If that doesn't help, see your doctor.
- No skipping.
If you feel a little tired before a planned workout,
don't take that as a signal to skip it. Chances are your energy levels will
pick up once you start moving. And when you exercise regularly, you're much
less likely to experience those lulls during the rest of the day.
a great time of year to take a vacation or visit family—but without
advance planning, those trips can bring your fitness program to a screeching
halt. Here's how to avoid that:
- Protect yourself on the plane.
Since there's no guarantee that an airline will have
healthy food on hand, pack a meal or snack in advance, and make sure you drink
plenty of liquids. If you're worried about catching something on the flight,
boost your disease-fighting ability with Herbal Immune Boost.
- Watch out when eating out.
Travel often means a lot of restaurant meals, and
that can derail your food plan in a hurry. Try to find restaurants that serve
high-quality meals, or, if that's not possible, order the best of what is on
the menu. (Even the IHOP® has some healthful, high-protein selections these
days.) But if you eat in a chain restaurant, check out the nutrition ratings
just to make sure you're not getting one of those 2,000-calorie
- Organize healthy activities.
When you go to a warm beach or on a ski vacation,
this is a no-brainer. But if you're traveling to an unfamiliar city, you should
find out in advance what you can do that requires a little movement. And if
you're staying with family members who prefer life on the couch, suggest some
outdoor games—or, if the weather isn't cooperative, healthy indoor
activities. Even a post-meal walk will get everyone's blood pumping and prevent
total lethargy from setting in.
- Take your workout with you.
One of the many benefits of a DVD workout program is
that it's portable. Decide which workouts you'll want to do during your trip,
and pack those DVDs, along with a resistance band. If you don't have one, see
if the place you're staying has basic gym equipment, or stick to exercises that
don't require any.
- Take care of your health.
can derail a workout program like getting sick. And you may be extra-vulnerable
to illness at this time of year, when stress and bad weather collide with cold
and flu season. But a few basic precautions can improve your odds:
- Wash your hands frequently,
especially before touching your nose or mouth. (A
recent study found that it doesn't matter how hot the water is, but for maximum
benefit, you need to lather with soap for at least 20 seconds.)
- Avoid germs.
If you work out in a gym, clean the equipment with
antibacterial spray, or at least cover it with a towel. Warm, moist surfaces
are an ideal place for germs to live and grow.
- Get plenty of sleep—less than 7 or 8 hours per night can compromise your immune
system. (It can also slow your exercise recovery.) Try to save the late-night
carousing for times when you can sleep late or take a nap the next
- Drink plenty of water.
It's easy to forget when it's cold outside, but
staying hydrated helps keep your immune system in top working order.
- Get a flu shot.
Remember, there are different strains of the flu
virus every year, so last year's shot won't keep you protected.
- Maintain your healthy eating habits,
and get a complete supply of vitamins every day. (To
make sure, supplement with
If you do come down with a mild cold, it's
okay to keep working out—moderate exercise can actually boost your
immunity. (Though if you're following a high-powered program such as
you should ramp down the intensity for a while.) But if you have a fever, chest
congestion, or can barely get out of bed, that's a sign that you need to rest
up and recover. When in doubt, ask your doctor.