The holiday rush is upon us, so here are ways even the busiest person can sneak in workouts and still socialize in style.» read more
Gold's Gym Fitness Institute experts Belisa Vranich and Robert Reames are here to help you tackle this season's hardest hitters and keep your diet in bounds.
All great players know that they need to mentally and physically prepare before they take the field and face the enemy. We want to help you have that same tough stance as you take on the holiday season with its party platters, time crunches and season-ending sweets. As Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL star Herschel Walker puts it, "If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat."
To make sure you're on the winning team this holiday season, we spoke to two members of the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute to create a healthy game plan: Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and author of Get a Grip: Your Two-Week Mental Makeover, and Robert Reames, the head fitness trainer for The Dr. Phil show and author of Make Over Your Metabolism.
Look at old game tapes. "Sit down and think about last year," Vranich says. "Ask yourself: Was last year's cookie worth the guilt afterward?"
Rest well. "Get at least eight to nine hours of restful sleep nightly," Reames advises. "When you're fatigued, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugar." In a season when sweet treats abound, you're basically putting minefields around your diet by being tired.
Tailgate right. Both experts agree: Always eat before you hit a holiday party so you don't arrive hungry and head straight toward the buffet. "Even if it's a banana and a bottle of water in the car on the way over," Vranich says, it's worth it. Chewing on something will help you resist the urge to grab for food. If it's a potluck, Reames suggests bringing a healthy dish that you like so you're assured of a good choice.
Put on your best game face. "Look for alternatives to the bad food that makes you feel bad about yourself before—not while—you are having an intense craving," Vranich suggests. In addition, don't let your mind fall into certain traps—like thinking, I'll start eating right next year or I worked really hard today and deserve a splurge. "If you worked really hard, why feed your body something unhealthy?" Vranich asks. For example, instead of Buffalo wings at the next game day party, make grilled chicken skewers.
Game Time (a.k.a. Party Time)
Be focused. The main key, both experts advise, is to avoid alcohol. Pace yourself by rehydrating—a club soda or two between drinks—or make a decision not to drink on weekdays. You don't want to wake up hungover early in the morning and feel tired, so, well, see above. Also, alcohol lowers inhibitions, so although you wouldn't attack that cheese plate while sober, when slightly tipsy you might scarf down a wheel of Brie.
Shake off that mistake. So you did eat three cookies and knock back a few too many? Let it go. "If you happen to overindulge one time, then let that be. Move on to the next day and regain your momentum," Reames says. "Take it one day, one holiday party at a time."
Take a pass. "Say no to parties you really don't want to go to," Vranich says. "Put saving your sanity above your social life." To that end, come up with a few believable and irrefutable excuses ahead of time.
Tighten up. While stretch pants are great for yoga class and lazy Sundays, they aren't smart for holiday get-togethers. "This can encourage overconsumption," Reames points out. "If you don't feel that waistline getting tight, you might not stop eating."
Stay in the zone. Don't let parties, gift shopping or vacation travel cut into your fitness routine. See how to fit in workouts, no matter how little time you have.
Congratulate yourself. Think of all the hors d'oeuvres you skipped or that second slice of pumpkin pie that you turned down just like you planned, and smile. "When you do things differently, take a moment to pat yourself on the back for learning and not falling into the same trap," Vranich says.
Keep up the good work. "Vow to start your 'new year, new you' plan ahead of the eight ball," she encourages. "Throw out bad food you aren't going to eat and stock up on good stuff. If juicing is going to be a new thing, for instance, buy the veggie bags that keep things green. Then put the juicer in the middle of your counter so you get used to it."