The Thanksgiving to New Year’s period is one of the toughest to stay healthy and stay on track with your workouts. There are parties to attend, beers to drink, cookies and other treats to eat, colder weather and less daylight hours to get a workout in. It can be really easy to just let yourself off the hook and say you’ll start up again in the new year. I’ve put together a few tips I use this time of year to try and make it easier for you to stay on track and give yourself a head start on those New Year’s resolutions to get fit and eat healthy.
Keep a food log. No one else ever has to see it, but having to log everything you eat has a way of holding you accountable. Studies show its a key technique for losing or maintaining weight. (Check out this study from the National Institutes of Health.) I hear people say they just can’t do this, but I think it’s more of a won’t then a can’t. There are so many easy ways to do this now with apps and websites that there really is no excuse. My favorite is LoseIt.com, which also has a smartphone app that syncs automatically with your web account.
I don’t use it all the time, but I think it’s a great tool to check in on occasion and get a clear picture of your eating and exercising habits. It lets you track calories in and out incredibly easily. You can choose from a database of food or enter custom foods in as well, so after a couple weeks you have most of the foods you eat just a click away. It also lets you log exercise as well so you can get a better look at the full picture.
If you do keep a food log, I think it’s really important to be honest, but also not be too hard on yourself. You’re going to have bad days and sometimes it’s OK to treat yourself. The thing a food log can help with is seeing if you’re doing this too much.
Make a Committment
Don’t wait until the New Year to start an exercise plan. It’s too easy to keep saying I’ll start tomorrow or next week, but then there will always be an excuse to keep putting it off. I love the idea of the Runner’s World Holiday Streak. It challenges people to run every day from Thanksgiving through New Years – even if it’s just a mile, just get out and run. If running isn’t your thing, try a similar streak with workouts at the gym.
Get It In Early
This is the hardest one on the list for me. I hate mornings…really hate them. This time of year more than ever though, things pop up and get in the way of plans to work out later. Despite my hatred for mornings, I always feel great when I have my workout done and out of the way for the day. It’s one less things for me to stress out about during the day.
I see these tips over and over again so I’m sure you’ve heard most of this before, but I hope it’s a helpful reminder. Good luck staying healthy and happy through the holiday season!