The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can challenge us to stick to our healthiest fitness routines and habits. Check out my top five healthy holiday tips to reach New Year’s merry and bright.

Keep daily activity up

Walking is by far the easiest way to keep up activity levels during the holidays.
Consider the following:
-A 30 minute walk after meals or 60-90 minutes after dinner. These walks can be great family time too.
-Walking meetings or breaks from desk to walk around the block/building.
-Family activities like fun runs. There are lots of turkey trots and holiday races out there to do as a family and support great causes. Mud football games, bike rides, going to the zoo are all great ways to gets lots of activity without having to know a lot about “exercise”.
-Try out scheduling a family or friend event with a hike as the central activity instead of a meal.
-Give yourself an early holiday gift and try out a reasonably priced activity tracker.

Incorporate strength training & intervals

Incorporating some high energy bursts and strength training builds lean muscle so you burn more calories at rest. Some people glaze over when they hear the word “interval”, but it’s important to remember it’s all relative to each person. A short burst of high-energy output, FOR YOU. Followed by rest. 30 seconds on by 30 seconds off is a great place to start. Examples include: jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, running in place.

Bodyweight strength training is a great place to start with strength and conditioning work. On we have exercise guides for basic bodyweight movements. These exercises combined with short burst plyometric exercises (jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, running in place) provide a great “bang for your buck” for exercise time. Try 1 cardio blast for 30-60 seconds, then 3 exercises that focus on each upper body / lower body / core. Repeat for 5-10 sets.

Watch calorie intake

Hold off on dessert at every meal or every day. Plan 3 meals rather than eating spontaneously and/or lots of snacking. Set goals for servings of fruits and vegetables or glasses of water. Hold yourself accountable to that and you’ll have less appetite for other things. Lee and I strive for 10 vegetable and fruit servings each day. There is much less room for processed or sugary foods at that level.

Sugar is a really addictive substance to our brains. So rather than eating “just one” of the treats at the office, and then failing to stick to one, you might have more success if you never start. Stick to your planned meals and snacks. Splurges and treats are okay from time to time, but when our offices have things sitting out for six weeks straight, that’s really not a special occasion.

Set reasonable goals

Work to maintain your level of fitness rather than make big gains. While our “to do lists” expand, keep exercise on your list as an important item! Keep up with your current workout routine by scheduling it in your calendar. Take note of days that will be more challenging to fit it in so you can incorporate more daily activity and keep calorie intake in check. Don’t get discouraged if you miss day or two. But try not to let bad breaks from exercise routines compound with bad eating and long stretches of inactivity. If you know you’re going to be really challenged with time to exercise, make extra effort in the week(s) going in and coming out of that period so you have a little buffer.

Schedule an appointment

Set up and commit to a time with a friend, a personal trainer, or your favorite class instructor. Team up with family members and friends to support each other. Even if it’s just once or twice each week, if you know you need that accountability of another person waiting for you to stick with it, make it a priority to schedule it in.

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