Weight can creep up over the holidays—and, unlike visiting relatives, may never leave. A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that people in Germany, Japan and the United States all gain about 1.3 pounds during major holidays. It’s less than the fabled 5-10-pound gain, but the problem is that generally, it’s weight that stays on, contributing to a higher body mass index (BMI) over time. Those with a higher BMI tend to put on more weight (and keep it on) during this period.
A Thanksgiving meal alone can pack up to 5,000 calories in a day—never mind the ongoing holiday party food, cocktails and baked goods that are ever present through New Year’s Day. That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep – or start – a fitness plan during the holidays.
Of course, it’s hard to pass up all the holiday cheer, so you may need a little extra boost to stay motivated. Here are my favorite tools and tricks to keep me on track with my fitness goals during the holidays (and they can also make great holiday gifts too!):
Free, online workouts: Performing exercise in combination with balanced nutrition will improve your overall sense of wellbeing, improve your body composition, and positively impact your body confidence. Free workouts available online provide the flexibility to fit in fitness when it is most convenient, including during the busy holiday season
Protein: Consuming a healthy protein-rich snack before attending holiday parties will help you to feel full, curb unnecessary party snacking and give you a little energy boost.
Reflective clothing: Winter nights come early and get cold. When you invest in warm running gear with reflective panels or strips, you’ll be safer and warmer during your outdoor workout.
New running shoes: Poor weather conditions can make the ground slippery, so having running shoes with good tread at this time of the year is important. Look for new models during the holidays, and take advantage of all those holiday sales.
Mini stretch bands: Traveling? Inexpensive mini stretch bands, which come in various resistance levels, can be your best traveling buddy for warming up hips, glutes, shoulders and back, or use them for a fast and effective resistance routine. They’re also great to take to the gym, or to use at home in a small space.
New music: There’s nothing quite like fun new music to give you that boost to get off the couch, run that extra mile, or push through a heavy lifting session. Download new tunes, trade playlists with a friend, or reshuffle your existing library to keep your workouts interesting. Even mix it up with your favorite holiday tunes.
Jump rope: Jumping rope is a good old-fashioned way to warm up and get your heart rate going. Warming up for 10 minutes can also help prevent injury. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, you can use an interval style training method and use your jump rope for your entire routine.
Every little bit you do to stay focused on your fitness before and during the holidays will help you afterward. Consider each good choice you make a gift to your future self.