Avoiding Holiday Expansion


It’s not shocking news that this is the toughest time of year to be “good” with diet and exercise. Temptations abound, stress increases and there’s more of a time crush during the holiday season, but that doesn’t have to derail you.  I won’t say that navigating all that is easy, but it can definitely be done successfully.

They look cute, but that's a plate full of dietary torpedoes!

The best defense is a strategic one.  Lacking a plan of action will almost always produce a negative result.  Use these suggestions to increase your probability of success:

  • Plan ahead – don’t get caught at a holiday function when you’re hungry.  How much can you resist when your stomach is growling at you and you’re surrounded by food?!  Have a good snack and drink a couple of glasses of water before going so you’re not famished walking through the door.
  • Be conscious of everything you eat.  Take a little bit at a time, eat slowly and let yourself feel full.
  • Steer clear of very high calorie foods and dips, or keep your intake at a minimum. Fat and sugar taste good, but rack up calories fast!
  • Don’t get too cheerful – holiday drinks often have upwards of 400 calories per drink.

Of course, exercise helps shore up your defenses too.  Stress doesn’t melt away all by itself! Working out is a fantastic way to stay in good spirits.  When time is an issue, do a shorter workout rather than skipping it altogether.  The two best approaches for this are circuited strength training and high intensity interval training.

  • Circuit strength training links exercises together to get more work done in much less time.  For example – lunges, rows, bridges and push ups done in series without resting between exercises.  Going through all four exercises would constitute one set of that circuit.
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) alternates short bursts of vigorous exercise with longer, low intensity recovery.  HIIT is great for cranking up metabolism and it only takes about 20 minutes to do from start to finish.

Sticking to sound planning and consistent exercise sessions (even brief ones) will get you to the other side of the holidays happy and healthy.  If you’d like more information, come join me for an expanded talk on avoiding holiday weight gain in the Haber Auditorium Monday November 22nd at noon, or Wednesday December 7th at 4pm.

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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