The most common statement I hear during the winter months is: “I’ve never successfully gotten through a winter. I always gain weight.” It’s painstakingly true: Once the cold weather starts creeping in, so do the pounds.. and quite frankly, at this time of year, it’s much easier to hop into sweats than it is to hop on the treadmill.
But it’s permissible because nobody can see what you look like under layers of sweaters, right? WRONG! You see yourself everyday and that’s the only person you really have to answer to at the end of the day. So why not answer to a fit, healthy, happy self?
This winter, don’t put your health and fitness goals on ice, and DON’T claim to “start tomorrow” or “make it your new year’s resolution” (as we’ve all infamously exclaimed before).
Instead, replace the words “diet” with “lifestyle” and follow these 7 tips below to ensure your success.
1. Break the Fast. There’s a reason breakfast has its name. You sleep for about 6-8 hours per night, and you’re not eating during this time. Fasting breaks down muscle tone and slows metabolism, so yes, breakfast is vital every day, but especially during the holiday season. Why? Because skipping out on breakfast can prime your brain’s reward centers to crave high-calorie foods. And with all the sprinkled cookies, chocolate reindeer, and deep fried latkas reigning over your last bit of self-control, eating a balanced breakfast is more critical than ever.
2. Choose Your Battles Wisely. You’re going to be tempted in the office, at the supermarket, even walking down the street (free samples anyone? Hello food truck! OMG have you seen the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate stand in Union Square?). And although you’ll successfully dodge a majority of mouth-watering desserts, your willpower can only withstand so much pressure. So before you behead the chocolate Santa, think about the one treat you realllllly want. Red velvet cheesecake, perhaps? And indulge in that one dessert. Remember to think of it as a choice, not a cheat, and continue to eat healthy afterwards.
3. Weigh In. Although I’m not a huge advocate of the scale, especially because numbers may vary depending on numerous variables such as water intake, time of month, etc. BUT It’s good to check in once a week during the holiday-feast period just to make sure you’re within 2-3 pounds of your current weight. If you see the scale skyrocket 5 pounds, vow to drink plenty of water and squeeze in an extra workout the following week. Remember: You are beautiful. And you are not the number on the scale. It’s only to keep you on track.
4. Coffee Over Cupcakes. That gingerbread cookie/pumpkin muffin/eggnog martini all sound delicious. But their calorie content is anything but! Opt for flavored coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts (such as their pumpkin spice latte, gingerbread latte, or mint hot chocolate) if your tastebuds are going christmas crazy, but ALWAYS get a small, ask for nonfat milk, and shun the whipped cream. That takes your drink from 440 calories to just 100 calories! The only trip you’ll be taking is to the beach, see ya later guilt.
Try these yummy recipes from The 150 Healthiest Comfort Foods on Earth:
5. Playtime Is Not Just For Kids. In fact, sledding can burn up to 450 calories in an hour! Other fun winter-time “non-workout” workouts include: ice-skating (320 calories/hour), snowshoeing (470 calories/hour), cross-country skiing (722 calories.hour), shoveling snow (385 calories/hour). Another workout I love is the Snow-Day Workout from Weight Watchers.
6. Mind Over Matter. I can’t stress enough how everything in our lives is controlled mostly by our mentality — and then the physical follows. Well, the same goes for food cravings! When we see or smell certain foods, and even when we see others digging in, we are more tempted to do give in to temptation. One of the biggest misconceptions about the holidays is that it’s supposed to be a time to treat yourself, or to indulge in foods you don’t normally eat year round (that’s how we justify seconds and thirds). BUT most decadent holiday treats are available year round, and if we just treat ourselves every once in a while — we can avoid holiday binging. Put things into perspective: holiday & winter season is the same as any other season, and if you love pumpkin pie, have a slice in the spring instead of 3 in the winter!
7. Two is Better Than One. We all know this to be true — and it’s most certainly the case when it comes to working out. I know I’m more likely to hit the gym when I have a friend saving me a spot in spin class or when I’ve promised a friend I’d join her on a Sunday morning run to central park. Making commitments to friends keeps you both on track and gives you some one-on-one time with your buddy. It’s a win win! (Just try to limit your chatting, not your reps!)
Stay warm, stay fit, and stay motivated!
- AILIN, Founder of TheHealthyHabitat.com