Christmas ham. Cocktail parties with bulging cheese plates. Eggnog-fueled caroling runs. December is ripe with parties, meals and snacks that can fill you with the holiday spirit and way too many calories. But staying slim during the holidays doesn't mean forgoing all your favorite traditions and activities. Below are 12 tips to keeping fit and healthy to ensure you enter 2015 in your best shape.
1. Ward off germs. You won’t look your best this holiday season if you can't stay active, and you can't work out if you’re sick. Be sure to wash hands, disinfect work spaces and get a flu shot to ward off germs and health woes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises washing hands with soap and clean running water and rubbing them together for at least 20 seconds. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your purse or pocket and use regularly, especially after shaking people’s hands at a holiday party or using a public restroom. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or arm when you sneeze, not your hands. “The germs on your hands are the single biggest threat to your health, any time of year,” primary care physician Marc Leavey told Health.com.
2. 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. The CDC recommends adults do 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week. But that doesn’t mean you have to work out for a full 150 minutes. Spread out your activity throughout the week if you can’t dedicate a chunk of time to exercise. Walking vigorously for 30 minutes can burn 170 calories, according to Health.com.
3. Beat the crowds. Gyms can be packed during the holidays because everyone is trying to stay active and meet their New Year's goals. Hit the gym extra early to fit in a workout and then spend the rest of the day with family and friends.
4. No gym? No problem. You don’t need a gym membership to stay fit. Work up a sweat doing 20-minute bodyweight workouts with little to no equipment in the comfort of your own home.
5. Stay fit with a friend. It’s tough getting out of bed in the morning for the gym when it’s cold and you've had one too many glasses of eggnog. Recruit a workout buddy during the holiday season to help each other stay motivated. You’ll be less likely to skip on a workout if it means leaving your friend hanging.
6. Dance to your favorite holiday music. Not a runner? Try dancing to burn off that slice of cheesecake. Dancing can burn more than 200 calories in just 30 minutes, according to Health.com. Be sure to use your arms for a more vigorous dance workout.
7. Don’t skip meals. Saving up calories so you can eat all you want at the holiday party is the wrong approach, according to health experts. In fact, skipping meals can cause you to consume more calories in the end. Instead, eat a nutritious breakfast, a light lunch and a small snack before the party. "People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there," Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietician and author of "Diet Simple," told WebMD. "Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint."
8. Hydrate. The feeling of hunger is often confused with dehydration, so be sure to drink an 8-ounce glass of water 20-30 minutes prior to each meal to avoid overeating. Staying hydrated will also help you burn fat more efficiently, according to Military.com. Experts recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, according to the National Institutes of Health.
9. Wear a LBD. When wearing snug clothes, you’re less likely to overeat. Wear your curve-hugging little black dress to the holiday party and hold a drink in your dominant hand, so you’ll be less inclined to grab snacks, obesity expert Cathy Nonas, a registered dietician, told WebMD.
10. Watch the eggnog. Alcoholic drinks are packed with calories, especially festive favorites like eggnog, which is nearly identical to ice cream. But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them all together. You can cut your alcohol calories in half by alternating water or seltzer between alcoholic beverages, according to David Katz, a medical doctor and author of “The Flavor Point Diet.” Katz recommends saving alcoholic beverages for the end of a meal, since alcohol can make you more likely to overindulge, according to WebMD.
11. Remember your veggies. The crudité platter at the holiday party is your best friend, sans the creamy dip. Celebrity nutritionists suggest stocking up on watery vegetables and fruits like celery, lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, oranges and grapes to banish bloat. Don't forget to add colorful produce to your main plate too, but avoid gas-producing veggies like cauliflower and broccoli during the holidays. Los Angeles nutritionist Jackie Keller tells her celebrity client Charlize Theron to pile her plate high with asparagus and green beans a few days before a "be-seen" event. "They're high in filling fiber, but less likely to expand in your stomach," Keller told CNN.
12. Indulge. That’s right. Eat the tasty holiday treats you’ve been waiting for all year, but be mindful of your portion sizes. Stick to one serving per indulgence, like one-half cup of eggnog or two medium-sized ginger snap cookies. Enjoy!