This time of year, I can sound like Scrooge, but please understand that I am sitting here right now with a glass of eggnog writing this (literally).
Yes, I own a gym and I have been a trainer for over 20 years. Yes, I am a huge fan of eating well and exercising, and I do in fact, think that it is the key to a long, healthy, vibrant life. I absolutely know for a fact that being healthier is more fun than being unhealthy. I know that being fit and ‘ready to go’ so I can do anything at any moment is more fun than being broken, unfit and overweight. I have personally tried out both.
At this time of year, I too have a war going on. We are surrounded, inundated by opportunities to indulge in every little craving, sweet treat, fatty, delicious homemade something-or-other. All the ads on TV, the radio, signs as we drive, flyers in our mailbox etc., are all full of amazing looking ‘comfort food’.
I want the best for you all year, not just right now. I also want you to be a human and enjoy the treats of the season and I want you to do it without being devastated and loaded with guilt afterwards.
This time of year puts everything against us when it comes to being healthy and lean. Waist destroying food everywhere, and then you factor in the shopping, parties, family, and work that all seem to accelerate and intensify, leaving even less time to work out. Somehow we need to have limits, guidelines and things in place to save ourselves from, well, ourselves!
Enjoy in moderation: This is my personal biggest hurdle. Once I have a sip of eggnog, I want to drink it all day, every day. Fat and sugar. Our body is designed to LOVE this stuff, especially in the winter – because it makes us fat, and that keeps us warm and protects us from starving in the leanest food supply time. Well, it WAS the leanest food supply time back when we lived in caves and didn’t have electricity, and let’s face it, the human body has not changed since then. We still genetically desire a food increase in winter, it’s pretty much hard wired. So we have to override that instinct and have limits. Have water with you at all times, flavour it if you need to. Snack on raw veggies all day. Plan and pre-make your meals.
Know Thyself: If you are an all or nothing person, then accept that. If you are in good shape, until you have one chocolate, and then you are sucked in and can’t stop until you have eaten every last one, then you have a different set of rules than someone who can ‘take it or leave it’. You need to stay strong, or only have that treat at the end of the party, when the chance of having too many is pretty much gone. Or buy in super small quantities, then have them all and be done.
Keep Moving: Exercise can NOT fall off the plans right now especially! Those extra calories are either going to be burned off, or packed on, you choose! Make fitness a huge priority! Make it part of the plans for every day, do something, anything, a walk after supper, an early morning class before everything goes haywire, a quick lunch workout, or a class after work and before supper.
Drink more water than usual: This will not only help you feel less hungry, which can help with the temptations, but will also keep you flushed and clear of all the residue from that strange food you have been putting away.
Laugh a LOT: This time of year can really be FUN! I encourage you to laugh a lot, have a blast, sing Christmas songs out loud, get together with those you love most and really enjoy the gift of life.
If you gain a few pounds, okay, no worries, but if you gain 20 or 30, it just makes January harder, so please, for your own happiness, two weeks from now, stay on target (mostly). It’s not about guilt, it’s about being happy all year.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.