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Be Fit and Festive: Your Guide to Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Once again, the holiday season is here!  For many of us, this is our favorite time of year, as delicous food, great friends, and loving family abound.  It can also be one of the most challenging.  All eating and no workouts make Jack a plump boy!  Believe it or not, there are ways for us to enjoy the holidays without the guilt that accompanies the new year.  You just have to be a bit proactive! Our staff has compiled some tips for eating and exercising that will have you pumped to start 2011, while still savoring all that this time of year has to offer.

The Holiday Workout

Let's face it, workouts around the holidays are a bit like your least favorite family member: easily forgotten and the first one to be dropped from your list.  Things get hectic, and exercise is usually the first thing people decide to sacrifice.  But we say that movement is a must now and always!  Not only can it help to curb the effects of a calorie-packed meal, but it is great for stress relief and it can be lots of fun!  Whether you're traveling or staying home, we know you can find some way to keep yourself feeling fit!

  • Take advantage of your training at Circle Studio: Use what you know!  Nothing can replace a great session at Circle Studio, but sometimes we have to try!  Put all of your hardwork to use while you're away.  If you know that you'll be traveling for the holidays, ask your Pilates or Gyrotonic instructor to show you some exercises you can do on a mat so you can keep up with your workouts.  Our Gyrokinesis mat classes (Mondays at 2pm and Saturdays at 9am) are a great way to learn a workout you can take with you!
  • Change it up.  We all like our routines, but sometimes it can be fun to try something different and mix it up.  The holidays are an excellent time to enjoy fitness activities with your family and friends.  Go for a post-meal walk to explore the area, take a guest or be a guest at the gym, or if you're lucky enough to have it, play in the snow!  You have the rest of the year to do your normal workout routine, so add some spontanaity.
  • Exercise when you can. It's definitely important to be diligent with your exercise program, but remember to let yourself have a little fun, too!  This may be the one time a year when you get to see those special friends and family, so take advantage of that now and find time to work out later.  If you can't dedicate a whole hour, make up a condensed routine and exercise for 20 or 30 minutes.  Some movement is better than none.
  • Multi-task- It's easy to fit in some cardio and work up a sweat during all the holiday shopping and running around.  Walk the mall a few times with a friend, hike through a tree farm and cut your own Christmas tree, or move a little faster when you're cleaning the house and preparing for guests.  These tasks won't replace a focused workout, but they will get you moving while you get other things done.

The Holiday Menu

The hardest part about controlling our eating and our appetites is that it is something we all have to do; there's just no way around it.  And when you have a freshly basted bird, buttery mashed potatoes, and a warm pumpkin pie in front of your face, "just say no" seems completely out of the question.  Even still, there are ways to decrease the aftermath of a decadent, home-cooked meal.

  • Use healthy ingrediants-  This may seem like a no-brainer, but many of us don't think about the fact that there are lots of healthy substitutes for the ingrediants that cause the most damage in a holiday meal.  For example, try substituting sour cream for a low fat version, or using low fat plain yogurt.  Instead of heavy cream in soups and sauces, whisk two tablespoons of flour with two cups of skim milk and add for thickness.  Use applesauce when baking in place of butter or oil.  Of course, using healthy ingrediants also means choosing nutritious foods.  Use fresh vegetables as side dishes, but don't overpower their natural tastiness with heavy dressings or sauces.  Compliment their flavor with simple things like olive oil, garlic, and herbs.
  • Eat before the party.  It can be hard when you've been looking forward to all of the goodies, but eat a healthy snack or light meal before you head out.  It should make it easier to not gobble up everything in sight.
  • Choose quality over quantity.There are some dishes that we just can't resist.  This may be the one time of the year when you get to enjoy that special something, so don't feel like you can't allow yourself to have a little bit of indulgence.  When making your plate this season, only choose the items that you really love.  If you see a dish that you simply must try, take a small helping and if it's not for you, don't eat the rest!  Don't waste your calorie allowance on something that you aren't going to savor.
  • Start small.  It's hard to show restraint when you're hungry, but try taking smaller portions when making up your plate.  Even if you think you'll eat more, it's much better to take too little than too much.  Odds are  food will still be waiting for you if you need it, but you can't put back food that's already been on your plate.  You'll waste less, and won't feel obligat ed to eat more if you're already full.
  • Pick wisely. Holiday party spreads usually include more than one option, so use your noggin on this one!  Beware of the 3 D's: dips, drinks, and desserts.  These can be the most dangerous parts of  a meal, but some can be much better for you than others.  Take a pass on the clam dip and go for hummus or guacamole (without the sour cream or mayo!); leave the martini and opt for champagne or a light beer; ignore the big ticket desserts like pie or cake and grab a smaller bite like a cookie.  You'll feel better just knowing you made some conscious decisions!

Most importantly...ENJOY YOURSELF!  These tips are intended to help make health and fitness a more streamline part of your life, not an obstacle in it, so use the advice that best suites you and your lifestyle.  Don't forget to schedule your Pilates and Gyrotonic sessions to get a head start on your goals for 2011!

Wishing you and yours the best this season,

Circle Studio Staff