You’re worried. December typically undoes 11 months of your mindful eating and regular exercise program. Shopping, school events, parties, and family get-togethers interfere with your fitness goals and tempt you to indulge in a lot of high-calorie foods you normally wouldn’t think of eating. You tend to drop fitness altogether and accumulate body fat during the holidays. Here are eight tips to effectively address this reoccurring problem.
Tip One: Eliminate the all-or-none mentality. Develop a tradition during the holidays to modify your exercise program and eating habits rather than to give up on them entirely.
Tip Two: Maintain a modified exercise program. 30-minute workouts per week will definitely provide desirable levels of muscular and cardiovascular fitness during the holiday season.
Tip Three: Engage in 15-20 minute strength training sessions. According to our recently published research, you can increase muscle and decrease fat in this brief timeframe by just performing one set of eight strength machines, three days a week.
Tip Four: Perform 15-20 minutes of endurance exercise. This is enough time to produce important improvements in cardiovascular fitness while also burning a significant amount of calories.
Tip Five: Use an interval training format for your cardio exercise (treadmill, cycle, stairclimber, rower, etc.). Five 3-minute intervals, alternating higher-effort segments with lower-effort segments can increase both cardiovascular health benefits and energy utilization. In other words, it will give you both an effective and enjoyable calorie burning workout.
Tip Six: Adjust your eating pattern with a sensible approach to holiday meals. Making minor changes in your favorite holiday foods and treats may prevent fat gain. Use less fat, sugar, and salt in your recipes and replace with healthier options that taste just as delicious.
Tip Seven: Limit yourself to small portions of holiday meals and dessert treats.
Because there are typically many food choices, try to take smaller amounts of each enticing item. This way you can sample as many foods as you like while not over eating.
Tip Eight: Use the five-point scale to prevent eating too much holiday food. On this scale, one indicates that you are very hungry and five indicates you are very full. Avoid both of these extremes. Four corresponds to being satiated but not stuffed and is the key number on this scale to determine when to stop eating.
In summary, if you are able to do an abbreviated exercise program, eat a variety of holiday foods in moderation, then you should enter 2018 without a loss of fitness or a gain in body fat. In fact, you may be even more fit and motivated for a healthy and active New Year.
Beginning this January, we will conduct another Weight Loss Program like the one that produced such excellent results this past year. This study was unique in that our participants concurrently lost significant amounts of unwanted fat and gained significant amounts of much needed muscle. Even more impressive, this was the only study to-date in which the program completers continued to lose fat and gain muscle during a nine-month, no-diet maintenance period. If you would like more information on this program, please attend a power-point presentation on Thursday, January 4, 2018, 5:15 PM at Quincy College, Presidents Place, 1250 Hancock Street, Quincy. There is no charge to attend, but please call 617.984.1716 for seating purposes.
Reprinted from the December 2017 issue of the South Shore Senior News.
About the Authors
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., teaches exercise science at Quincy College and consults for the South Shore YMCA. He has authored 25 books on strength training and fitness. Rita La Rosa Loud, B.S., directs the community health and fitness center at Quincy College.