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It’s that oh-so-wonderful time of the year when the days get shorter, our social calendars get busier, and our diets become a lot more relaxed.
With candy and treats everywhere you look, Thanksgiving pies, and Seasonal Flavored Lattes it can be really hard to keep on a diet and stay fit.
If you’re like most of us, excessively treating yourself during this time of year leads to defeat and disgust once the new year rolls around: Holidays=1, You=0.
Don’t fret, though. The holidays don’t have to set back your fitness journey. Read on for 6 tips to stay fit and learn how to own this comfort food season.
1. Get Off the Couch
Colder days and longer nights may have you cancelling workout after workout in favor of snuggling up with your partner (or pet) on the couch.
But don’t make excuses for sedentary behavior. Instead, find ways to sneak in a workout and stay off the couch.
Try getting up earlier and move your after-work exercise session to the a.m. hours. Or roll out a mat and exercise during your TV time to make it more interesting.
If you want to stay fit during comfort food season, keeping on track with workouts is crucial.
2. Lighten Up Traditional Recipes
Sure, comfort foods ease tension and promote emotional well-being, but many are packed with calories. One of the most important tips to stay fit is to use healthy ingredient substitutes in your recipes.
Avoid the guilt by finding healthier alternatives for your favorite comfort foods. For example, substitute the pasta in your chicken noodle soup for zucchini noodles or use ground turkey instead of ground beef in your famous chili recipe.
You can still have the comfort food you love but a healthier version will help you stay fit and stick to your diet. Meal prepping your week in advance is another way to stay healthier.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Your body needs hydration even during the cooler months, so be sure to drink eight glasses per day. One of the easiest tips to stay fit is to stay hydrated.
Mild dehydration can actually mimic hunger, so you might reach for a snack and mistake thirst for hunger. This mistake can lead to unnecessary snacking and weight gain.
Instead, take a sip of water whenever you feel hunger pangs (especially if you’ve eaten recently) to see if the discomfort goes away. To help yourself keep drinking water throughout the day, get an insulated water bottle like the Hydro Cell!
4. Make Workouts Social Events
Who says workouts have to be dull and lonely? Mix it up and invite a friend or family member to join you on a run or for a yoga class.
Social workouts give you an opportunity to catch up in a constructive way. You’ll stay in shape and stay in the loop — two birds, one stone. Plus, working out with a friend makes the whole process that much more enjoyable.
Working out is so important for staying fit and healthy, anything you can do to make it more fun will help you stay on track.
5. Treat Yourself Wisely
Many of us have the tendency to eat mindlessly during the holiday season. One serving of pecan pie quickly leads to two and, before you know it, you’ve blown your calorie intake for the day.
Prevent mindless eating by planning ahead. Fill up with sensible choices like lean meats and veggies first.
If you decide to have dessert, choose a smaller plate and eat mindfully, returning your fork to your plate after each bite. Also, commit ahead of time to one (or two!) alcoholic beverages before switching to water.
Trying to avoid sweets and treats during the holiday season is pretty much impossible. So let yourself enjoy, but keep it in moderation.
Try these great holiday pumpkin recipes for treats!
6. Manage Stress
One of the best ways to help yourself stay in shape is to manage your stress. High stress levels are associated with increased production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol influences your cravings for junk food, among other things.
Plus, if you are stressed you may be an emotional eater (like most). This can make you overeat and eat the wrong kinds of foods.
Keep holiday stress under control by carefully reviewing your commitments and being realistic about what you can and cannot do. Lean on friends and family for support when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
More importantly, set aside time just for you to eat healthy meals, get a well-deserved massage, take a bubble bath or turn in early for a good night’s sleep. Use time-saving tips for your to-do list so you have more me-time.
Don’t let comfort food season get the best of you. Stay trim and healthy by carefully planning your meals and workouts, and finding positive ways to cope with stress.