Stay fit over the holidaysWe’re about to enter that festive, magical time of the year where we spend time with family and friends at holiday meals and parties. It’s a time of lots of fun, lots of food, lots of eating, lots of drinking and for some, packing on lots of extra pounds.

As athletes, we are connected with our bodies and performance, so when these winter holidays roll around, gaining weight in the form of fat can pose a concern and make our New Year’s Resolutions even more daunting.

Here are 5 reasons why people get fat over the holidays and 5 ways you can stay fit during this festive time.

It can be a simple adjustment to go from fat to fit. Just one letter difference. Remove the A and replace it with an I. When you could say, I’ll just skip A workout, or I’ll just have A cookie, A slice of pie, or A chocolate Santa, instead, remove the A and replace it with an I… “I choose to stay fit.” Here’s how:

1. Too Busy ➞ Plan Ahead

When we are living our lives following our typical routines, we typically do a pretty good job of sticking with our schedule and this includes regular meal times and regular times for exercise. During the holidays, with the children out of school, family in town, travelling, holiday parties and different gym hours, our schedules change. Many are so busy, they don’t make time to do the things that make them feel so good when they are operating on their schedule – eating right and fitting in their exercise.

The key to overcoming the holiday rush is to plan ahead. Check with the gym to see what time the classes will be offered. If you are out of town, see if there is another gym you can visit. Or if going to the gym doesn’t fit in your schedule, set an exact time in advance for you to do a workout at home. Planning your meals ahead is equally as important. Busy schedules can lead to picking up fast foods that are highly processed, but planning ahead will allow you to still eat healthy meals.

2. Stress ➞ Exercise

The holiday rush of being too busy can lead directly into stress. With all the changes to the schedule along with extra shopping and family obligations, stress can creep in. Stress causes your heart rate and blood pressure to go up and can also increase your body’s production of fat-storing hormones. All this causes your motivation to exercise to go down.

Again, the key here is to schedule your exercise. It’s more important this time of year than ever. Schedule time to make it to a gym and if you can’t make it to a gym, be sure your workout moves as many body parts as possible. Especially if you are short on time, this is not the time for doing arm-curls, but rather total body workouts and movements that may include jumping jacks, air squats, lunges, push-ups, rowing or others movements that engage your whole body.

3. High-fat Food ➞ Better Choices

This time of year is known for its abundance of calorie-dense foods. Many of the popular choices this time of year are very low in nutrients and high in calories. Foods that are highly processed, heavy in rich sauces, candy, chocolate and gift baskets with pre-packaged foods are popular.

You again have the choice. When you are at the family-style buffet, you can always opt to fill your plate with more of the vegetables and refrain from adding all those rich sauces to your meat dish. You can certainly still be a part of the meals – just make the conscious choice to make the right choices at the meals.

4. Food is Always Around ➞ Hide the treats

The other part of food in the holiday season is that it seems to always be around. The cookies from the cookie exchange, the gift baskets from work, the pie from grandma … there’s so much of it and it’s always sitting out on the counter.

Instead, hide the bad food, so they are not ever-present, right in front of you. When they are out-of-sight, they are out-of-mind and this will prevent you from snacking on these unhealthy items throughout the day. Again, take control of what foods you see and what you eat.

5. Peer Indulgence ➞ Peer Empowerment

How many times during the holidays have you heard people say they are in a “food coma” after their Thanksgiving meal or looking like Santa after a holiday meal? It may be fun to sit on Santa’s lap, but most of us don’t want to look like him. Yet, it seems like it has become a social norm that people are okay with putting on pounds over the holidays and it‘s this negative peer pressure that’s driving those extra pounds.

What if we reversed this trend? Positive peer pressure from accountability can be one of the greatest reasons why we reach success. What if we put this toward our food intake this holiday season? Right now, there are people in our gym talking about a Whole 30 challenge or a Holiday Zone Diet challenge to eat healthy over the holidays and be held accountable for it. Grab an accountability partner and commit to help each other stay fit over the holiday season.

Then, when you come into the gym and we ask about your New Year’s Resolutions, it won’t have to be ‘lose the weight I just gained over the holidays,’ but rather can be furthering your performance and fitness as you continue to live a fit, healthy life!

Best of luck & enjoy a fun, festive … and healthy, fit holiday season!