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It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and quite possibly the unhealthiest. Between the booze at holiday parties, your mom’s famous Christmas cookies, and less time than ever to workout, it’s easy to quickly start to feel sluggish. But don’t stress: There are easy things you can do to keep it all in check, without ever having to feel deprived (because that’s just no fun). Here, six of the simplest ways to stay fit during the holidays.
Turn shopping into a cardio session
Cher Horowitz would approve. While online shopping is tempting, get off your booty and hit the mall. Park in the farthest parking spot possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, do an extra lap, and you can quickly add up some serious steps, advises Amanda Pezzullo, a personal training manager at Equinox Chicago. Every little bit helps.
Be the one who hosts
“When you’re busy hosting, you’re less likely to overindulge,” points out Pezzullo. Not to mention that this also lets you control what kind of food you’re serving, so you can make sure there are healthy options you can feel good about. And if you’re not hosting and asked to bring a dish to a party, try making it something more virtuous (trust us, there will still be plenty of treats to go around).
Think about what you’re wearing
While slipping on those old oversized college sweats the second you walk into your parent’s house (and not taking them off until you leave) is enjoyable, your clothes can serve as a good reminder to not go totally overboard at the dinner table. You’re much less likely to overeat when you’re not wearing loose-fighting clothes, notes Pezzullo. Translation: Put on actual pants—ones that don’t have an elastic waistband—before dinner.
Make exercise a social thing
With so many social obligations and people to see this month, why not kill two birds with one stone? If you’re going home for the holidays, find a 5K to run with your family, recommends celebrity personal trainer Erin Oprea. (If there’s not one in your town, plan your own and turn it into a competition for a little added incentive, she says.) Annual get-together with the girls? Make it a group workout class. “Studies show that portion size choices improve on days when you exercise,” says Pezzullo, making this a great way to set yourself up for success.
Try a trainer
Even if you normally do your own thing, this is a good time of year to book a handful of sessions, advises Pezzullo. Having these set on your calendar ensures you won’t be tempted to skip a workout. Plus, a trainer can suggest new moves and routines that can help you break out of a workout rut, which often results in quick changes in your body.
Hydrate—then hydrate some more
Drink. More. Water. A stupidly simple tip that can make a huge difference, especially when it comes to warding off all the alcohol-, salt-, carb-induced bloat that’s oh-so common during the holidays. Even if you’re good about guzzling H2O during the day, many people fall off the water bandwagon as soon as they walk into any kind of social gathering. “Drink a full glass of water between every cocktail to both stay hydrated and limit those empty calories,” advises Oprea. You’ll probably feel a bit better the next day, too.