Most of us set New Year's resolutions to help us get healthy after fattening up during the holiday season. This year, why not get started early, and stave off that weight gain before it happens? Get healthy now, and take control of your health long before the New Year!
Since it takes a while for a new habit to form, the earlier you start, the better. That way, your new fitness behaviors have time to take hold before the holidays roll around. Even if you don't do perfectly, it will still be better to start now than waiting until the new year. Plus, the gym isn't so crowded this time of year either.
Typically, people have a tendency to gain more weight between November and January. This probably contributes to the bulk of your weight gain throughout the year.
To keep from gaining weight, here are 8 tips from Eating Well to get you started:
1. Add more activity to your day
2. Track your food for a couple of weeks
3. Read nutrition labels
4. Take a break from takeout
5. Step on the scale once per week
6. Build more balanced meals
7. Stop restricting certain foods
8. Go to bed earlier and keep stress low
If you combine a regimen of exercise, nutrition and proper sleep, then it will be easier to maintain a healthier weight over the holiday season. This will also give you a jump start on your fitness goals for the New Year.
Getting started with a new exercise routine is a great first step towards getting in shape, and helping to prevent weight gain. Exercise is one of the key components of your health, and can help you in many aspects of your life. In addition to the physical health benefits, exercise can benefit your mental health and your mood as well.
According to The Mayo Clinic,
Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Or get at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You also can get an equal combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aim to spread out this exercise over a few days or more in a week.
To get 150 minutes of exercise per week, that is only about 22 minutes per day. So, starting with an exercise routine doesn't have to be difficult. Also, since that is the ideal amount of exercise you need to get, you can start small and do 10-15 minutes of exercise until you get used to it.
Some of the easiest forms of exercise, if you are a beginner, are:
All of these forms of exercise are things that you can start right away, with minimal equipment needed. Once you get used to exercising, it also helps to add some strength training.
According to Healthline, here are some different types of strength training:
Muscular hypertrophy. Also known as muscle building, this type of strength training uses moderate-to-heavy weights to stimulate muscle growth.
Muscular endurance. This refers to your muscles’ ability to sustain exercise for a period of time. Training to increase muscular endurance usually involves high reps using light weights or body weight.
Circuit training. During this form of full-body conditioning, you cycle through various exercises with little to no rest between them.
Maximum muscular strength. This type of exercise involves low reps (usually 2–6) and heavy weights to improve your overall strength. It’s best reserved for experienced exercisers who have mastered their form.
Explosive power. This training combines power and speed to improve your power output. It’s usually employed among trained athletes to improve their ability to perform explosive movements in their sport.
Unless you plan on becoming an athlete, you can probably focus on the first three aspects of strength training. You can get started with this once you get used to incorporating aerobic exercise (cardio) into your routine.
To start strength training, you don't even need any equipment. You can start with body weight exercises.
In addition to exercise, nutrition is a key component of maintaining a healthy weight. Making sure that you are eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water can ensure that you are taking proper care of your health.
You can get into a routine of eating healthy prior to the holidays, and then when you are making your holiday meals and sweets, you can swap out favorites for healthier choices.
When making vegetables, you can swap out olive oil for butter, or use an air fryer to cook them up. Then, use spices for flavor instead of butter. Some of the spices with the most health benefits include:
Adding a healthy dose of spice to your cooking can not only make things taste better, but make sure that you are taking good care of your body too. Why not get some added health benefits with your flavor?
In addition to using spices, you can make your baked goods healthier too. You can start by making your baked goods at home, instead of buying store bought. This makes your baked goods much healthier, because they don't contain preservatives, and usually have less calories as well.
Another trick to making your holiday baked goodies healthier is by switching out traditional white flour for healthier flours. Processed white flour has most of the nutritional value removed in the refining process, and it can also contribute to Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease.
Some of the healthiest flours, according to WebMD, include:
In addition to switching out your flour, you can use vegan recipes which tend to be healthier, or switch out your sugar for healthier substitutes as well. Most other types of sweeteners will be healthier for you than white sugar.
According to Nature Path, some of the healthiest sugar substitutes include:
Coconut Palm Sugar
Even if you don't make any changes to your grandma's favorite recipes, it is important to remember that baking yourself is still healthier than going for store bought.
One holiday meal isn't going to make or break your diet. It is when you are going to lots of different gatherings over the holidays that you can start to get into trouble. Or, when you are snacking on sweets at home. If you try to minimize your snacking, or choose healthy snacks like vegetables, nuts or popcorn then you can help keep on track with your health.
Last but not least on your list of habits for keeping healthy is to make sure that you get proper sleep. When you are tired, you are more likely to reach for sugary snacks, or other unhealthy options.
According to Tovita Nutrition, some ways that poor sleep influences your eating habits are:
Eat bigger portions
Give into cravings for foods rich in fats and carbohydrates
Snack late at night
Consume more calories overall
Drink less water
Consume more carbohydrates and high carb snacks
When you are properly rested, you are more likely to make healthier food choices. You will also have more energy to exercise as well. Not only that, but getting proper sleep can help your mental health and your mood as well.
Read more about getting a proper night's sleep:
Every night, most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. So, be sure to get to bed early every night to get yourself into the best health of your life! Getting your z's should be easier than worrying about your exercise and nutrition, too.
Reduce alcohol consumption
In addition to padding your waistline with empty calories, alcohol can lower your inhibitions and lead to poor food choices. When you drink too much alcohol, it can also lead to a hang over, which can disrupt both your sleep and your exercise routine.
Although alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it disrupts the quality of your sleep. When you drink, it disrupts your REM sleep cycle, which can make you feel more tired, and have less quality sleep overall.
Here are some tips about How Drinking Less can Help with Holiday Stress.
Everyone likes to have a couple of drinks over the holidays, whether it is hot spiced wine or egg nog. Just remember to keep things in moderation. Having 1-2 drinks isn't as big of a deal as drinking heavily. Also keep in mind that if you stop drinking a couple of hours before bedtime, it will have less effects on your sleep.
Also, when you are drinking, you can alternate drinking water with drinking alcohol. This will keep you more hydrated, and help to reduce the effects of a hang over.
Overall, the healthier you can be over the holidays, the better prepared you will be to swing into the New Year as the best version of yourself. You will be ready to take on your New Year's resolutions without having to feel like you need to beat yourself up over bad choices in the past. This way, you can be moving forward instead of just trying to get back to where you were once before.