On average, the meal you and most Americans consume is a whopping 3,000 – 5,000 calories for a typical Thanksgiving/Holiday celebration. Yikes! That is the equivalent of;
- 8 Hours of Shoveling snow…yes, I said shoveling, not snow blowing
- 3-4 Hours of Running Continuously… Up Stairs… Non-Stop
- 6 Hours of Circuit Training, and a pretty dang tough one to boot!
Basically, that short-term overindulgence can spill over into setting you back an entire week from your fitness goals, and that is only for one meal! Not to mention the many mindless snacks of cookies, candies, and alcohol that are lingering throughout the house at every turn (taunting you, even).
This holiday season, break the cycle of indulgence, self-sabotage, being a couch potato, regretting it all, and then trying to change the world come January 1st. The body functions best when regularity is maintained. That’s why I wanted to give you these tips; so you can establish positive habits that will keep the body closer to balance, despite the external factors that are present this holiday season. Without any further delay, use these to boost your end of the year self to promote an even better New Year for you!
#1: 6 Minutes of Movement
After a long meal, the last thing you want to do is exercise, or even walk for that matter. But before the meal, there is a great way to improve how your body can combat that colossal calorie bomb of a meal. ‘Exercise Snacks’, a small bout intense exercise, has been scientifically proven to improve blood sugar control. This process of control determines how your body encounters sugars, eliminates excess, and utilizes what it needs as energy. Excess sugar is very easily stored as fat, so give your body a better chance at getting rid of what it doesn’t need.
This recent study proves that engaging in 6 minutes of exercise prior to a big meal provides a significant improvement in your glycemic response to the meal. How you might ask? Here are a few suggestions to not only get a boost in calories burned but also combat the dreaded impact of sugars on your body:
- Intense six-minute walk uphill (broken into 6 x 1-minute intervals) done 30 min before the meal to help improve blood sugar control. Use stairs or a big hill near your house
- A mixture of uphill walk and resistance-based exercises (for 6 × 1-minute intervals),30 min before meals. That means 3 sets of walking and 3 sets of resistance training. Bodyweight movements like Squats, Plank, Push-Up, Burpees, or Animal Walks are perfect choices for that option
- Shovel snow vigorously for 6 minutes. This is a nice 1-2 combo of getting house chores done while improving your health. If you don’t have any snow to toss around, any quick-paced housework, get creative! (fast trips to-and-from the attic/basement, raking leaves, etc.)
#2: Slow Down While Your Eating
This is an excerpt from my previous article, 11 Ways to Usurp the Holidays, a great addition to this one!
Enhanced hydration, digestion, weight maintenance, and meal satisfaction are just a few benefits of reducing the urge to scarf food into your stomach. If you are ‘on the go’ we find reasons to justify eating quickly, in the car or grabbing anything within reach to just “eat” because you are hungry. When our bodies feel satisfied with nutrients from a meal, it can take about 20 minutes for the information to register for your brain. So if we find ourselves eating too quickly, we can be “full” without even knowing it, causing overeating and decreased digestion efficiency; a.k.a. the food coma effect. Here are three ways to ‘distract’ you from overeating;
- Drink 8-12oz of water before sitting down for each meal (and maybe pee too)
- Place your utensils down in between bites while chewing. Wait to pick them back up until you have swallowed.
- Take small servings, rather than overflowing your plate at the start of the meal.
If you are ‘on the go’ we find reasons to justify eating quickly, in the car or grabbing anything within reach to just “eat” because you are hungry. When our bodies feel satisfied with nutrients from a meal, it can take about 20 minutes for the information to register for your brain. So if we find ourselves eating too quickly, we can be “full” without even knowing it, causing poor digestion and eating more than you really need; a.k.a. the food coma effect.
#3: Cold Water Exposure
The use of cold showers and ice baths tactics should not always be avoided. Cold exposure therapy gained attention for its benefits to aid recovering from hard training sessions, which is 100% true. But the cold also serves another cool function; aiding weight control.
Without diving into much science, the body likes balance, so when you become cold, it upregulates the rate you burn calories to keep you warm; a.k.a. shivering where your muscles contract and relax very quickly to produce heat, like flicking a light switch on and off super fast). A few minutes of cold water exposure each day could add up to a few hundred extra calories burned! Let cold water hit your face, neck, shoulders, chest, and abdomen for the best ‘bang for your buck’.
Use cold shower, go rub some snow on your skin, or take an ice bath. Start small and increase your exposure to cold once you know how it feels. This week, at the end of your normal shower, turn the hot water off and let the cold hit your body for just 5-10 seconds, that’s it! Will it take you by surprise? Yes. But is it actually difficult? No. Then, simply add another 5-10 seconds every few sessions to improve your resiliency and maximize the benefits
#4: Efficient and Effective Workouts
In 2008, the University of California conducted a study for ‘the best all-around exercises for fat loss’. To determine this, they sorted the participants into 3 groups; one only doing cardio, one doing only resistance training, and the third engaging in cardio and resistance training. With all groups doing the same intensity of work, the group performing both cardio AND resistance training experienced the biggest fat loss when compared to the other two; 10 times more versus each group on their own! Not only did they burn more fat, but they also built muscle in the process (no, not 10 times more, but enough to make a big difference).
So before you head to the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike to try and burn fat, come join FREE for two weeks here at Orca Empire where each week, we balance mobility, recovery, cardio, resistance training to give you total spectrum health and fitness, you just need to click here!
#5: Grease the Groove
If there is a squeaky door hinge, do you continue to open and close it while it squeaks, or would you do something about the squeak and then start moving the door again? I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell would want to take a little extra time to identify and fix what is causing issue before moving it again.
That is called ‘greasing the groove’, and the same principle can help you move free of pain, full of confidence, and does not take a full workout to do. Whether you are stuck at work on a busy day, stranded without gym equipment, home with sick kids, need a little extra, or simply just want to become better at moving, then Greasing the Groove is right up your alley. You can use this tactic anywhere, but since I really like making lists, here are some examples that quickly popped into my head;
- Commercial breaks from Football, T.V. shows, or anytime you get up to go to the bathroom (maybe after you go!), Grease the Groove
- Each time you enter a room of the house (like the kitchen), Greave the Groove
- Every hour during your holiday food preparation, Grease the Groove
- When you get up to stretch during your desk work, a perfect time to Grease the Groove
- Each time you get out of the car, Grease the Groove
All it takes is 1-2 minutes of movement, multiple times throughout the day. Bodyweight squats, lunges, jumping jacks, push-ups, plank position, or flexibility/mobility drills. Anything that is different than standing or sitting that will move your body in multiple directions is a great choice. Keep it simple and that will make it easy to follow with big results.
If you watch a full football game and do 10 squats and 30 jumping jacks each commercial break (which, on average, there are 20 of them each game), you just accumulated 200 squats and 600 jumping jacks without having to make time for a full workout block! What’s better than that? If you need a spark of creativity, send me a message and I will be willing to help based on your current ability levels.
#6: Know the Hours of Your Home Base Gym
Most likely, the holidays lead to a change in many business hours. The last thing anyone wants it to get jazzed up to train, take the drive over to your home base gym, and see the doors locked *sigh* what a buzzkill! If you are staying home this holiday, check the hours of where you normally go. If you live in the Hudson Valley/Fishkill area, Orca Empire will be closed Christmas day, but we are open the day before AND the day after! Come on in so we can give you the gift that keeps on giving; physical freedom.
However, if you are traveling, scope out a local gym in your area that offers free trial classes, a cheap one-day entry fee, or even pack yourself some travel fitness equipment/essential travel tools so you’re prepared. Here is a link to see my top 3 fitness tools when on the road.
#7: Disconnect From Electronics 2 Hours Before Bed
This is from a previous article of mine (linked here), and although this has nothing to do with exercise, it has everything to do with how well you are resting. When you sleep, your internal army starts to repair and recover all the little stressors you accumulate each day, but they are only able to work their best when you are totally at rest. If you don’t rest enough, they aren’t able to work enough, meaning you still have lingering damage from the previous day. Do that for weeks and months, and that is what can lead to injury and chronic fatigue.
Laying in bed watching 3 T.V. episodes in a row might feel relaxing, but it is not resting. The stimulation of using your computer, phone, television, or other device screens keep our brain active and causes your brain to be more alert than you realize, even when you feel sleepy.
Many of us wonder why we can’t fall asleep, why kids stay up so late. The screen lighting and overstimulation confuse our bodies’ natural rhythm to wind down and be at ease. Change up your routine by skimming a book or magazine, doing some puzzles, or listen to soothing music/sounds while you wind down for the night; and notice the difference you feel after a week of real restful sleep.
#8: Tell Yourself You Have Time
One of the best ways to amplify your stress 10 fold is to try and get everything done yesterday and keep going until everything is done. But one of the best ways to reduce stress is to engage in exercise. It might just look like another thing on your list to do, but it is the only thing on your list you need to make sure you do! Amongst all the commotion and chaos surrounding holidays, taking care of your body and being can be pushed to the side to make room for ‘other stuff’.
It isn’t being selfish to block off time each day to honor your body with exercise, rather, it is one of the most selfless acts. It doesn’t need to be an all-or-none approach. Use ‘Greasing the Groove’. Cold Exposure, or the 6 Minutes of Movement as a staple this season. A little on top of a little will eventually equal lot so each moment matters.
#9: Don’t Throw in the Towel
Maintain healthy habits. Using the holidays as an excuse is a common safety blanket to overindulge and make decisions that are not in line with “living a healthy lifestyle”. Don’t put yourself in a hole and throw the excuse around if it’s the holidays before cookies for breakfast or your 5th mimosa. Take control, remain in control and reap the rewards of feeling great when 2018 beings instead of filling the next few weeks with negative emotion, regret, and putting yourself in a hole.
Carry positive reasons for change as your momentum into the new year rather than fueling change based on guilt and shaming yourself to “just do better”. I am no Scrooge, but I am a realist; enjoy connecting and celebrating, but be mindful on the tipping point of temporary pleasure and establishing methods for lasting progress.
#10: Breathe, Meditate & Be Alone
Sure, sitting in silence and breathing does not burn as many calories as sprinting up a big hill, but there is something magical that comes along with focusing on you, especially at this time in the year. Regardless of the stirring around you, the one place you always will have as your sanctuary is your mind. Whether you are looking to find some peace, improve concentration, sleep soundly, reduce anxiety/stress, and beyond, having the right platform to guide you is important. Here are three apps designed for guided relaxation and meditation:
Stop, Breathe & Think (which I currently still use)
Lately, I have been also experimenting with Binaural Beats for Focus, Relaxation, Journaling Sessions, and to Meditate. This app lets you customize the exact type of ‘mood’ you want to be in, and is totally free!
If you pick a few of those tips to practice this holiday season, I guarantee you will feel better physically and mentally. Be sure to carry that momentum and positive outlook with you through the next few weeks, months, and beyond!