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A Great Holiday Workout to Stay in Shape Despite Temptation

12/20/2019
By Soji James, CPT, CSCS

During the holidays, most of us spend an enormous amount of time celebrating with family, friends, and colleagues. And sometimes, we are so consumed with our loved ones that we lose track of the days, lose track of our fitness, and fall of completely when it comes to health and fitness. It is nearly impossible to fit in that much-needed holiday workout. Come January 1st, so many of us are a few pounds heavier, out of shape, and back at square one.

I’m not suggesting that you stay away from the festivities, or feel guilty for giving into the occasional temptation. You should be able to enjoy the holidays—all while continuing to stay in shape, and remaining on top of your health.

Follow these tips, including our quick and effective holiday workout, to stay in shape during the holiday season.

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Simply put: consume a lower carb, higher fat diet during the holidays to keep your weight in check.

Lower carb, higher fat diets typically aid weight loss and have been proven to provide quite a few health benefits. As always, I emphasize whole, unprocessed foods that are high in protein, high in good fats, and lower in carbs. Stay away from highly processed foods, as there are usually many hidden calories from carbohydrates and sugars.

A bowl of vegetable salad. Doing holiday workout and eating healthy food will help you stay in shape during the holidays.
Try to Serve and Eat Healthy Food During The Holidays (Image Source: Pexels)

No, I’m not talking about going Keto, but it’s much easier to stay on track when you are consuming less carbs throughout your day, simply because you will typically consume less. Eating a lower carb diet during the holidays allows for a cleaner diet, and usually less calories consumed—which means you’ll have extra room to sample some treats at that holiday party.

The daily carb recommendation is lower than 100 grams, and no less than 30 grams. This is a more restrictive way to look at your diet, but it is a simple trade-off you can use during the holidays to give yourself room to eat more during the parties, and feel less guilty for taking a vacation from your diet.

Example of High Fat, Low Carb Diet

  • Breakfast: 2-3 whole eggs with spinach and asparagus, cooked in coconut oil or olive oil. 
  • Lunch: Turkey burger with colby jack cheese, and a large side of non-starchy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, or brussel sprouts.
  • Dinner: Salmon cooked with butter and sauteed red peppers, with a side of brown rice. 
  • Snacks: Vegetables with hummus, low carb protein bar, or low carb protein shake.

Just a side note: If you plan to consume alcohol on a lower carb, higher fat diet, it’s important that you slow down your consumption. Our bodies tend to respond much quicker to alcohol with a lower carb diet, so be sure to keep that in mind as you enjoy your holiday parties.

Holiday Fitness

If you’re getting anxiety about the number of days you’ll realistically be able to make it to the gym, don’t be too hard on yourself. Come to peace with the fact that you’re probably not going to hit every training day. Treat the holidays just as you would a vacation; if you feel like training, train. If you don’t want to train, don’t. It’s important to remember not to force yourself to train if you aren’t totally “there,” as it puts you at a higher risk for injury.

Holiday Training Options

Your training plan for November-December should be simple, and very easy to follow. This will ease your stress, and allow you to relax a bit during the holidays. You have a few options, depending on your goals:

  • Strength and putting on muscle: try to hit all muscle groups in one session and make sure to start with some sort of heavy compound lift like squatting or deadlifting. 
  • Endurance and overall fitness: use HIIT, go for some sprints on the treadmill—or if you have some time, run outside for a few miles.
  • Fat loss: combine your full-body weightlifting sessions with HIIT sessions. Or, you can alternate between the two.
Man doing some weightlifting.
Strength Training is One of the Best Holiday Training Options (Image Source: Pexels)

Holiday Workout Examples

Below are a few options for quick and effective workouts that will help you stay in shape during the holidays. This HIIT workout is something you can even do at home on days you can’t make it into the gym.

Full Body Workout

  • Barbell Squat: 3 sets, 5-6 reps
  • Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets, 6-8 reps
  • Bent Over Barbell Row: 3 sets, 6-8 reps
  • Upright Barbell Row: 3 sets, 6-8 reps
  • Plank: 3 sets, 30-60 second holds

HIIT Workout

Rest for 15 seconds after each of the exercises below. Repeat the circuit 3 times.

15 Minute Fat Burning HIIT Workout – Natacha Oceane
  • Butt Kicks: 45 seconds
  • Jump Squats: 45 seconds
  • Burpees: 45 seconds
  • Mountain Climbers: 45 seconds
  • Jumping Lunges: 45 seconds

Stay Active During the Holidays

I want to leave you with a few more pro tips to help you stay in shape during this holiday season. Try to walk as much as you can, as any extra calories burned will help you stay in shape and keep you slim without the intense inflammation the stress from the holidays can cause on your body.

And last but not least, shift your mindset. You can’t worry about every tiny detail when it comes to nutrition and exercise while you’re spending time with family and friends—and you don’t want to be that person at every party who packs meals and gives the side-eye to anyone who dares to sample from the dessert tray. This time is meant for celebration and relaxation, so go into the holidays knowing that you won’t be able to maintain your usual macro count or 5-6 day per week training plan.

The gym and your normal routine will be there after the holidays. This is the time to take a deep breath, take a break, and celebrate with your loved ones. Enjoy your holidays!

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