By Katie Zampini
For many of us, the holiday season marks a yearly de-railing of our efforts to stay fit. As November comes to an end we find ourselves faced with wave upon wave of baked treats and cocktail parties all threatening to sabotage our best fitness efforts of the past year. This can be not only detrimental to our waistlines and self-esteem, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to our physical health.
All of that said, no one is recommending that you “Grinch” your way through the holidays, declining every delicious holiday treat and skipping the special occasions; After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year! Rather than focusing so much on what you eat this holiday season (or even trying to adapt your traditional recipes into lighter versions), try committing to increasing how much you move. You’ll have more energy and will be better equipped to counteract the extra calories you’re sure to enjoy from the season’s favorite foods and drinks, sans the guilt-ridden conscience and the splurge/restrict rollercoaster. Grandmother’s bread pudding was never meant to be “light”, anyway.
Committing to moving your body in intentional exercise for just thirty minutes per day this holiday season could mean the difference between new (i.e. bigger) jeans in January or celebrating a new year that is already headed in the right direction.
Here are some ideas for staying fit while home for the holidays.
Walking is the perfect exercise for just about anyone. It requires no equipment (other than warm clothes and good shoes), it can be done with friends and loved ones, it is low-impact on your joints, and it produces great results. This holiday season take a family member or friend (or enjoy some solitude) and hit the road! The Golden Triangle area offers some excellent trails if you’re looking for traffic-free places to find your stride, including the five trails at Plymouth Bluff and the River Walk in downtown Columbus. Short on time? Walk your own neighborhood for thirty minutes, and you’ll find it was the most well spent time of your day. You’ll get back to your front door with more energy, a clearer mind, and ready to handle the rest of your day. Think walking lacks excitement? Try adding intervals of jogging or running to your walk. Another great way to pass the time is by downloading podcasts or music for your walk.
At-Home Strength Building Exercises
Two simple exercises you’ve almost certainly done before can give you a full body workout in less than three minutes. Sarah Harrelson, the owner of the new Pure Barre Starkville, demonstrates the proper (and safe) form for these two basic exercises.
Using a mat or carpeted area, come to your forearms and extend your legs directly behind you, supporting yourself on the balls of your feet. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your elbows should be directly below your shoulders. Turn your palms straight to the floor. Pull your abdominals in tight to your spine, and remove the arch from your back. Your goal is to create a straight line from shoulders to heels. Press back through your heels with energy. Using sharp exhales, continue to pull your abdominals into your spine with each breath. Try to work your way up from thirty seconds to ninety seconds in this position. This exercise works your entire core, as well as you arms, chest, back, legs, and seat; it is truly a full body workout.
If you think push-ups are all about your arms, or only for men, think again! Push-ups, like planks, work your entire body, with significant benefit to your core. The key is to perform push-ups on the balls of your feet rather than your knees, even if it means you are only able to slightly bend your elbows in each repetition. The big idea: when it comes to effectiveness, push-ups are more effective when small and in full-form than they are when they are big but modified. To perform an effective push-up, use all of the cues listed above for plank, and then push into a straight-arm plank with your hands directly below your shoulders. Bend your elbows, with control, and push back up to your straight-arm plank. Avoid locking your elbows at the top of each rep. Only bend your elbows as far as you can while staying on the balls of your feet. Work your way from ten to as many as you’d like while maintaining good form.
Science has proven that adding strength training exercises like the ones above to the end of cardio workouts increases overall calorie burn. Try adding a plank and push-up series straight into the end of your walks/jogs this season and enjoy great toning results.
So enjoy your holiday season and all of the baked, buttered, and boozy treats that come along with it. Just make time for a little bit of sweating, and ease your way into a healthy, happy New Year!