By Pete Cerqua
Author of The 90-Second Fitness Solution
Want to know the easiest way to stick to your extremely healthy holiday diet and fitness plan? By allowing yourself to cheat on it now and then. Extreme measures such as eating too few calories, overbooking your fitness classes, and saying “No way, nuh uh, never” to entire food groups (like Christmas cookies) eventually lead to a meltdown and rebellion. Here’s how to make yourself a deal that you won’t back out of before New Year’s.
1. Commit to a splurge. Yes, a splurge!
First let’s do the math: The average person eats 3 times per day. There are 7 days in a week for a total of 21 meals per week. So, what’s the big deal if you go crazy with one out of 21? It’s not a big deal—enjoy! Your goal is to eat healthy most of the time and make room for the occasional “off the deep end” meal.
It’s easier than you think; just get into a routine. Try a protein drink for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and chicken or fish with a vegetable for dinner. Make it a habit and when a holiday comes around, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating the mashed potatoes and dessert.
2. Skip a workout.
The body needs rest from your already stressed lifestyle. If a long holiday weekend comes up, take advantage of extra sleep and do something relaxing like reading a book. It’s OK to skip a workout.
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3. Forgive yourself.
So you went a little a little crazier than usual. Instead of a one-meal splurge you went ALL weekend! It happens. Forgive yourself and move forward. Try going on a juice fast for a day to break the cycle and clean out the junk. Fresh vegetable juices are best. If you can make them yourself, even better. One of my favorites is carrot, apple, celery and ginger. They are healthy, filling and low in calories. The next day you will be back on track.
4. Move slow to warm up fast.
If you’re doing sprints or going out for a run in the cold weather, it’s best to warm up thoroughly before your workout. But what about your strength training? At my gym in New York City I don’t even let my clients warm up even though we work with very heavy weights. The key is to move the weights slowly and under control. It’s the fast-moving exercises that will get you injured even if you did your warm up. A good rule of thumb is to move the weights at a pace of 4 seconds lifting and 4 seconds lowering or slower. Just count it out in your head: “one thousand one, one thousand two,” and so on. Slow, controlled lifting has many benefits and no need for warm-up sets. Think of it as yoga with weights.
5. Cookies, be gone!
The biggest problem I run into is having the leftovers around the house. You’re not going to gain weight from one holiday meal, but picking on the leftovers all weekend will make your clothes tight in a hurry. The answer is to GET RID OF IT! Give food away as your guests walk out the door. Especially the sister-in-law who’s always judging you—make sure you give her all the desserts.