The holidays are a time of family and friends, good cheer and expanding waistlines. They are a time of twinkling lights and honey-glazed hams; a time of jolly old St. Nick, the guffawing guy in dire obvious need of angioplasty. Sitting and Eating run neck and neck as the season's most common activities. Face it — the holidays are a time of sedentary gluttony. And truth be told, we love it.
But if you aren't careful, the holidays can put you into a hole fitness-wise, and it can take a while to climb out of it. This year, we recommend taking some minor steps to help keep in shape. We're not talking about ultra-marathon, circuit-training-round-the-Christmas-tree kind of shape — these are just common sense ways of limiting the effects of holiday excess.
Here are some tips to help you stay a little healthier around the holidays this year. We've even asked Eric Wytiaz of leading health and wellness website Lifestyle Network (www.lifestylenetworktv.com) to weigh in with his thoughts.
Get out there and do something! Don't let yourself off too easy during the holidays. Yes, it's a busy time, but that shouldn't give you an excuse to do nothing. Going to the gym will make you feel better physically and mentally — and you will have earned your indulgences.
If that's not possible, get active in other ways. "The holidays are a great time for touch football, sledding, or snowboarding, and all of them can help burn off all those extra calories," says Wytiaz. If all else fails, go for a walk in the winter wonderland — you can warm up with a hot chocolate when you get home.
Be aware of what you eat: There are way too many good foods available during the holidays for any reasonable human being to abstain completely. The most important thing is to be cognizant of what you're eating. Don't just eat because there is food somewhere in the vicinity — smaller portions and eliminating needless snacking can make a big difference.
Drink a lot of water: Hydration is always a good idea, but particularly at this time of year (to counteract the effects of too much wine, for one thing). In addition to being an essential part of healthy living, water is a noted appetite suppressant. "Staying hydrated is a key factor in your metabolism," according to Wytiaz.
If at first you don't succeed: You might get off track at some point in the season. An extra slice of pie, an eggnog binge, a day spent gleefully couch-bound in front of the fireplace--this kind of thing can happen. If it does happen, don't just throw your arms up and concede to your apathetic tendencies. Acknowledge that it wasn't the healthiest thing you've done, and move on undeterred. One bad day does not necessitate another 20 to follow it.
Relax: The holidays may be a stressful time, but keep in mind that it should actually be a relaxing one. Less work and more free time can make the holidays a time to recharge. "Take some time for yourself," says Wytiaz. "A healthy mind means a healthy body. Workout, yoga, or even stretch for a few minutes. Just a little bit everyday can make you feel better all around."