HO, HO, HO, Santa is on his way, and along with him, slack is on its way too! It's the time of the year where we excuse ourselves from the diet and the gym. It is open season to stuff yourself with cookies, hot chocolate, and turkey. However, this laid-back approach should be taken with caution. Yes, we know it is hectic, and choosing a gym over good family time is not the way to do it. Squeezing in “active time” during holidays is key to keeping your muscles responsive; after all, you’ve worked hard on yourself all year long and don’t want a rapid decrease in fitness levels.
Moreover, exercise is still the closest thing to a miracle to keep your mood elevated and stress-free. It also helps burn calories. Science suggests HIIT helps burn over 500 calories in 30 minutes, for example.
Following are the five tips to help you in this regard:
1. Plan and Expectations
Do not add exercise by thinking that “I just have to squeeze it in.” Instead, incorporate it in by running your planned schedule first. Planning a road trip with your fellows? No problem, just add a hiking session with them; who says cardio cannot be fun, eh? Traveling to your parents this Christmas? Search gyms close to where you will be staying, or an even better option would be to plan a cycling session. It can be an amazing way to bond, and your old man might just smoke you on his bike!
Have realistic expectations. It is okay that you will miss meal prep, or your daily gym sessions will be compromised. Instead of brooding, make the most with what you have. Our advice is to use resistance bands. They can be used in versatile and challenging ways. Focus on “maintaining” your weight, fitness levels, and overall cardiovascular health rather than on “improving” it. The better you plan, the more realistic your expectations will be. Be sure what to pack and think of fun activities like hiking and skiing that cover your exercise regimen as well as your Christmas celebrations.
2. Rise, Sweat, and Shine
Sleeping habits have a large role in your fitness and recovery. Sports science has highlighted just how crucial sleep is for building and repairing muscles. Stick to your eight am schedule. This way, you will be sure to fit in the activity without giving up parties, office plans, or movie sessions in the evening or afternoon. Moreover, if you are aiming for weight loss,” fasted cardio,” i.e., cardio right after waking up and without taking any solid food, is a good way to lose weight. Another perk is that your morning fitness session will keep you perked up and feeling active owing to increased endorphins and testosterone. No more winter blues for you; be the life of the party!
3. Hit the HIIT
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an excellent way to torch the fat and induce muscle growth in just fifteen minutes. It is the best way to exercise when you are running out of time. Getting ready for a party but guilty of not being active? Let HIIT take care of it. Do bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, mountain climbers, etc.
Do three sets, each with five to ten reps with short breaks (not more than two minutes) in between. Yes, it will knock the wind out of your lungs, but it will also tick off your goals for the day.
Go to the party with the “pump,” and you will notice that your metabolism will be increased for a long time. This is known as the “after burn” effect. The intense nature of HIIT makes sure that your growth and fat burn hormones spike.
4. Get in the Mood
It is hard to be and stay active in a not-so-encouraging environment. You can use a workout app to remind you. Some apps also suggest workouts and keep track of them. It will also stop the uncertainty one has on what exercise to do. They will help you squeeze workouts anywhere and anytime.
You can also create a playlist to help you get in the mood. Mix some upbeat tracks or listen to those you listen to in the gym. Listening to songs you hear while in the gym will make your brain “think as if it is in the gym,” this way, it will release the “conditioned response.” Remember, consistency is the key. Make sure you go for shorter workouts. After all, no one will be in the mood to do hour-long sessions amidst posting emails, decorating Christmas trees, or baking cookies.
5. Use Every Chance
Are you going to the mall to shop? Wear your tracksuit and enjoy zooming around the mall. Count your steps via your smartwatch and see how simple chores can also add to healthy activity. When done with shopping, lift those bags and walk to your car. Focus on breathing and see which muscle needs improvement. By adding these subtle yet impactful changes, you will increase your kinesthetic intelligence. You will feel more active, flexible, and in tune with your body.
When enjoying your football game, start doing crunches or sit-ups. What better way to cheer for your favorite team? Also, play with your children, this will be a good bonding session, and they will stay away from their iPads. You will notice how much energy children have and how challenging it can be to match theirs. Take the challenge and run around the house with them breathless and full of giggles.
It is not hard to exercise during the holidays. The important thing is to keep adapting and adding exercise in a fun way. Do not stress yourself and keep expectations real! You are not responsible
for any lapses in your fitness regimen, and it is okay to miss. After all, it is more of an attempt to stay in shape, not improve your benchmarks.
Just remember Rudolph should not be the only one running around breathless with a red nose!