Healthy Cove

Fitness Through the Holidays with Erin Oprea

Editor’s note: The following was written by USANA Fitness Ambassador Erin Oprea. 

The holidays can be a crazy time of year. From huge family gatherings to office parties and even colder weather, there are a lot of excuses floating around that can ruin your diet and fitness plans. But these aren’t reasons to lose hope and fall into lasting bad habits.

With the right plan in place, you can absolutely enjoy yourself while sticking to your healthy lifestyle.

Here are a few tips to help limit the impact the holiday season may have on your fitness.

Keep Fitness Fun and Family Oriented

The holidays are a great time to get your family involved in fun fitness activities. Grab your family and find a local 5K to get everyone out, moving, and enjoying the season together. My family and I run a 5K every holiday. It’s good bonding and it’s a great way to burn some calories before we eat a bunch of food. And holiday runs are just a fun environment.

Obviously not all family members are going to be at the same level of fitness—it’s just a matter of going out there together and enjoying the festivities. Some people are going to walk and some are going to run, and some might not finish. But the important thing is knowing you all got out there, got fresh air, and enjoyed it together.

If running isn’t your thing, nothing beats a good old-fashioned jump rope. When there’s no snow or ice on the ground, that’s my go-to favorite thing to do outside because it’s such a versatile piece of equipment. It’s something you can do anywhere. And you can easily do it in short bursts in a Tabata workout to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.

I love Tabata so much that I gave it an entire section in my book, The 4 x 4 Diet. Tabata is 20 seconds of high-intensity moves followed by 10 seconds of rest, done for eight rounds—a total of four minutes. There are lots of free Tabate time apps. Take a few minutes to look around and pick the one that works best for you.

After you have your timer, grab your friends and family, bundle up, head outside for some fresh air, hit start, and get some work done. Make a game out of it.

It’s OK to Enjoy Holiday Treats, Just Plan Ahead

Eating well during the holidays can be hard, but it’s possible. It’s all about planning ahead and picking and choosing.

Here are my favorite tricks.

  • Take something healthy to share at holiday parties.

This means you’ll have at least one healthier option. And then just have little bits of all the other goodies. Enjoy a little bit in moderation, but have something you feel good about eating.

  • Don’t stand next to the food table.

I have to repeat this one: Don’t park yourself right next to the food table. Those temptations are endless and you’re doomed for failure.

  • Eat before you go to parties.

Never go to a party hungry. This isn’t just for the holiday season; this is a rule I live by. If you’re not starving when you go out, you can have enough to satisfy you and not feel like you have to eat everything. Food always looks better when you’re hungry.

  • If you drink, drink in moderation.

Alcohol is not our friend, especially sugary, high-caloric drinks. Drink in moderation. Have a cocktail and then have a full glass of water before you go on to your next one. That will slow you down quite a bit.

Make Fitness Goals, Not Resolutions

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions this year, set small, attainable goals.

If you make a goal to lose 50 pounds but only see two pounds come off the first week—even though that is healthy weight loss—you’re going to think 50 pounds is forever away and that there’s no way you’re going to get there. That kind of negativity will just lead to failure.

But if you make small, attainable goals, such as focusing on drinking more water and less soda, you have something to build on the next week. Over time, those small, accomplished goals add up to huge results. And then when you attain those goals, you reward yourself. But not with food.

To me, the best reward is new workout clothes. But I’m not most people. I have clients who set weekly goals and put $5 in a jar when they hit them. And when they hit a monthly goal, they go out and buy something big with it.

But the most important trick about keeping up with your fitness goals through the holidays is to plan ahead. You have to plan out your activity. You have to plan out your food. You even have to pick and choose what days you’re going to be bad. That way, you’ll know in advance what days you’re going to be good.

And then all you have to worry about is having a fun, safe, and fit holiday.

Happy Holidays from East Coast Life Solutions!

Healthy Cove

8 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Without the Weight Gain

The holiday season is here and with it comes time spent with family and friends eating delicious food. Mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, pie, cookies, and cocktails are staples at every celebration and party. Indulging in these seasonal treats is fun, but this time of merriment can quickly add up on the bathroom scale.

Your physical fitness doesn’t need to suffer this year, though. There are several reliable ways to avoid packing on extra pounds this holiday season. And none of them require depriving yourself of the splendid holiday treats you enjoy so much.

Proper Portions

It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season and lose track of what, and how much, you’ve eaten throughout the day. Overeating during the holidays can lead to weight gain in even the healthiest individuals. Overweight or obese persons are even more likely to gain weight during this time of year. And while you should celebrate and enjoy yourself, there are ways to do it safely.

Dishing up proper serving sizes at a holiday meal makes overeating harder to do. Choosing a half-cup of stuffing—instead of half-a-plate—allows you to enjoy the taste of comfort food while leaving room for more nutritious dishes. And when in doubt, choose vegetables, fruits, and protein over starchy, refined grains, and sugar.

Aim for Quality

Holidays Without the Weight Gain: Veggies

Next time you’re in line at the dinner buffet, pick up nutrient-dense foods first. At holiday parties, these take the shape of green salads, roasted vegetables, and turkey. Choosing vegetables and protein first will fill your stomach with quality food and leave less room for tempting filler foods (potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls, etc.).

Another great way to balance your holiday meal is by adding whole fruit to your plate. Apples, oranges, and pomegranates are in season this time of year. These fruits are full of fiber and vitamins that support healthy digestion and immunity. And they’re naturally sweet and delicious.

Watch Out for High Calorie Filler Foods

Starchy foods—like potatoes and dinner rolls—sugary cocktails, and cookies let you eat a lot and not feel full. That’s because these foods are low in fiber and high in sugar. Your body digests them quickly and the resulting blood sugar highs and lows make it difficult to listen to what your body needs.

Conversely, high fiber side dishes with lots of fruits and vegetables sustain you longer and make your more aware of when your stomach is actually full. There are easy ways to substitute nutrient poor dishes for more wholesome options. Whole-grain dinner rolls and sweet potatoes are healthier alternatives to mashed potatoes and white bread. A conservative glass of red wine has valuable antioxidants not found in other beverages. Fruit salad instead of cookies provides the sweetness you and your guests crave without the calories.

Eat Well Throughout the Day

One of the easiest ways to sabotage your diet is to skip meals in anticipation of eating large ones later. So don’t fast all day in preparation for a special family dinner. Instead, eat a balanced breakfast and choose a lunch that will keep you full and sustained until the evening.

Fiber-rich foods and snacks with fruits, veggies, and protein increase satiety and help keep cravings at bay. Fruits and vegetables provide the fiber to fill your stomach. Protein slows digestion and helps keep you full for longer.

Build your pre-party meal with these facts in mind. A salad for lunch (size: approximately three cups) can help reduce the calorie intake at your next meal by nearly 12 percent. Fueling your body well before a holiday get-together will help you make better eating choices and quiet the urge to overeat.

Make It Yourself

Holidays Without the Weight Gain: Drinks

Worried about what you should eat at a party? Provide a calorie conscious dish at the next potluck. Preparing refreshments yourself allows you to control sugar and fat content. And it ensures there will be something available for you to eat. Odds are you won’t be the only party-goer looking for a healthier option.

Another way to promote healthy holiday eating is hosting a party of your own. Serving nutritious snacks and beverages and enjoying the company of friends and family will sustain the holiday spirit and provide a healthy evening.


Holidays Without the Weight Gain: Socialize

Good conversation with loved ones is calorie-free and a terrific way to spread holiday cheer. Focus on the people at the party, rather than the food. If you need extra motivation to stick to healthy-eating goals, aim to talk to three different people before partaking in the holiday spread. Meet two new people before going back for seconds.

Reward Good Behavior

Making healthy choices this holiday season doesn’t require self-deprivation. You’ll feel confident after a day of proper portions and nutritious meals. Reward yourself with a slice of pie or cake. These treats shouldn’t come after every meal, but they’re well deserved after you have provided your body with proper nutrition.

Withholding tempting foods can backfire and lead to binges that will set you back on your journey to holiday health. So treat yourself appropriately and remember to eat all things in moderation.

Make Exercise a Group Activity

Regular exercise is one of the hardest habits to maintain during holiday celebrations. But exercise is necessary to combat weight gain during this time of year. The average holiday meal amounts to more than 2,000 calories consumed in a single sitting. That’s a staggering number, but there are plenty of ways to knock off those excess calories with friends and family.

Plan activities together that take advantage of the season. A long walk after dinner can help aid in digestion. Snowshoeing, skiing, playing football, and charity races are excellent ways to spend time together and burn those holiday calories. Maintaining your physical fitness this holiday season doesn’t have to be a solo effort. This year, you and your loved ones can grow closer and stronger by making physical activity a fun way to spend time together.

Don’t Wait for January to Make a Change

For most people, the holidays are followed by the reckoning—a month of diets, commitments, and resolutions. But if you want to make a change in your health, now is the best time. With the tips you just read, you can enjoy your holiday season and get a jump on your 2018 goals.

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