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Healthy Holidays

By Mike Samuels

With the holidays just around the corner, and the Winter evenings drawing in, you might be thinking that now’s the time to lock yourself indoors, park yourself in front of the TV, and indulge in all your favourite foods.

You’d better get that idea out of your head right now!

Sacking off training and healthy eating in favor of inactivity and junk food are the first steps to a long, miserable season of weight gain and laziness. Surely you don’t want to lose everything you’ve worked so hard for over the rest of the year?

While it may be a lot easier to train in the Summer months, when the weather is good and you can get outside to swing your kettlebell, or perform hill sprints and bodyweight workouts in the sunshine, training shouldn’t take a back seat during the Winter. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to keep on top of your exercise and healthy eating plan while still enjoying the holidays. Avoid the usually inevitable holiday weight gain, and perhaps even lose a few pounds by following these simple tips.

  1. Maintain your Workout Schedule

    Family gatherings, parties, and work commitments are all likely stumbling blocks that could cause you to miss your workouts over the holidays. However, sticking to your usual training routine can help create a structure when everything else might be up in the air. You may have to do some reorganization though.

    For example, if you usually train in the evening, but have to go out for dinner with the family one night, then switch your session to the morning, or do it at the weekend. That is, unless you see this as the perfect opportunity to get Great Aunt Doris and Uncle Ted into kettlebell training!

    Don’t use these functions as an excuse to miss training. Your body has gotten used to the regular workload and stresses of training that you put it under, so you should strive to maintain this as best you can over the holidays.

  2. Improvise

    When things do come up that prevent you from training, it’s important that you’re flexible enough to work round them, and find other ways to get your workout in. Your gym may also close for a while over the holidays, and you might need to find alternative methods of training.

    Kettlebells are great for using at home – they don’t take up much space, and you can get a great fat-burning workout in a very short space of time. Have a go at any tried and tested kettlebell workout, such as Ross Enamait’s Magic 50, which comprises snatches, swings and burpees, the kettlebell 300, which is also based around these three exercises, along with push-ups, V-ups, mountain climbers and clean and presses, or make up your own 15 minute workout structured around explosive compound movements. If you’re really pushed for time, then one round of Tabata swings, cleans or body-weight squats, where you perform eight 20 second rounds at maximum effort on your given exercise, interspersed with 10 second rest periods, is a sure fire way to get your heart beating and strip fat in just four minutes.

  3. Plan Your Nutrition

    It can be all too easy to fall into the trap of stuffing your face with candy, junk food, puddings, soda, alcohol, and many other sugar and fat laden treats when they’re always there on offer, but it’s fairly easy to avoid this, provided you have a set plan in place.

    Most people buy far too much food over Thanksgiving and Christmas, simply through a lack of planning. If you’re doing the grocery shopping this year, then think clearly about what you need before you go out, and don’t just buy food for the sake of it. While half price bacon flavored candy may sound tempting, it’s unlikely to do your waist line any good, and there’s a reason why it’s on such a good deal.

    Make the most of the healthy meals on offer too. Roast turkey and vegetables is pretty much the perfect meal, so load up on this before you think about the sweet stuff. It’s worth cooking extra meat too, as you can eat this after the big days, instead of filling up on junk.

  4. Let Yourself Cheat

    For once, it’s okay to cheat.

    The holidays do only come once a year, so don’t beat yourself up if you do indulge in foods that are usually off limits. With all the tasty food on offer around the holidays, you’d be mad not to treat yourself! Just make sure that the majority of your nutrition stays the same as it would be the rest of the year, and that you get in your training sessions to help offset the extra calories you’ve eaten.

There you have it. Four easy steps to maintaining, or even losing weight over the holiday season, while still having a good time.

Mike Samuels works as a personal trainer, diet coach and fitness writer, based in Southampton, England. He specializes in training clients for fat loss and sports performance. Find out more about him at his website – www.mikesamuelspersonaltraining.co.uk

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