This article is about choosing foods wisely for a healthy Thanksgiving holiday along with at-home workouts to keep your fitness program on track throughout the holidays. This can also be applied to other holidays like Halloween, Christmas and even New Year’s!
This is the season where sweets and treats are prevalent with all types of tempting foods being shoved in your face at the office, at home and at parties. We are under tremendous food pressure from Halloween all the way through New Year’s which makes it harder to stick with an exercise regimen and a healthy diet. Family gatherings and holiday travel makes it difficult to continue training especially if you do travel somewhere that doesn’t have convenient gym access. All of these holidays revolve around rich, delicious, high calorie foods. These types of foods are ones you really don’t want to eat but sometimes you do especially if you have been exercising and eating right all year around. The key is portion control when you’re dealing with rich and sweet foods plus a consideration to the fact that it is not just one meal you will be attending that will include these tasty foods, so portion size is stressed even more to avoid going out of control and falling off the diet wagon!
It is easier to control a meal if you are the one who is hosting the party because this will make it much easier for you to use healthier alternatives which everyone will hopefully enjoy. This is a great way to introduce your guests to some healthy nutrition tips so that they can learn to use them for their own meals. Teaching others about healthy meal options can actually save lives and it helps your guests to be conscious of their own health and wellness. Health issues such as hypertension and diabetes can be remedied with lifestyle changes in a person’s diet but it can be difficult to make changes and create new habits. By hosting a party and providing healthy foods to your guests, you can see how they enjoy the different dishes and then you can teach them how easy it is to prepare these healthy foods along with providing them with different recipes and other important information.
You might be surprised but recipes that are lower in fat and sugar can actually be tastier than the original high fat and sugar loaded foods. Using nonfat plain yogurt in place of sour cream and mayonnaise can lower the fat content of foods like mashed potatoes, coleslaw and other cold salads. Even egg and tuna salad are excellent prepared this way. Salad dressing can also benefit from the use of yogurt instead of mayonnaise. I like to use lemons, grainy mustard and yogurt for a simple yet tasty, creamy salad dressing and you can even use this on top of a baked potato.
Vegetable pate, olive tapenade, bruschetta and chopped, marinated roasted veggies are perfect for fast and easy finger foods, appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. An alternative to crackers is bagel chips, rye chips and Raincoast chips. Raincoast is a brand and one of their items is made with olives, honey, figs and seeds which is very nutritious. They are all made from lower carb and lower fat ingredients and are double baked to be very crisp and delicious.
Fresh veggies are always present at gatherings and with good reason. The dressing I mentioned above is a good dip for these veggies. Choose dark green and bright colored vegetables which are full of cancer fighting phytochemicals.
When visiting different parties and get-togethers, make sure to choose the most nutritious items then find a few of the “cheat” foods to try out but make sure to choose smaller portions so that you can enjoy more than one. However, do not go overboard because it can get out of control fast when you’re testing out small samples of high fat and high sugar foods. Alternatively, if there is one item in particular you like the best and can forfeit all other sweet and rich foods for, then get a nice serving of that and enjoy your treat!
Holiday Fitness Plan
The more social activities you partake in during the holidays means the more important it is to get in some type of exercise during the week, even if only in small spurts.
The best idea is to get up from bed 30-60 minutes early and get your workout finished first thing in the morning so you can get it out of the way. For those with specific fat loss goals, you will want to workout for a total of 60 minutes with 30 minutes for weight training and 30 minutes for cardio exercise.
The cardio portion can be 30 minutes of jogging, jump rope or the elliptical machine. If you wish to stay indoors, you can try stair stepping using a stair case for 5 minutes followed by a series of 5 minutes of jogging in place followed by 5 minutes of jumping jacks, then 5 minutes of jumping rope, then 5 minutes of burpees. For the last 5 minutes you will march in place while slowing the movement down each minute until you are done and can stretch out.
The 30 minutes of weight training exercise is composed of 3 sets of 20 pushups, knee pushups, or chair pushups (depending on your fitness level), 3 sets of 20 ab crunches, 3 sets of 20 horizontal chin ups, 3 sets of 20 tricep dips, and 3 sets of 20 overhead presses using dumbbells or even water bottles if you have no equipment accessible to you.
Do this workout 3-4 times per week with a day off during your holiday. It is a very light workout so there is no fear of overtraining doing this program. You can also split up the cardio and weight training portions into 2 different times of the day if you need to (morning and night). The sweat you get from the cardio portion is needed so maybe save this for a pre-shower routine!