6 things super fit people do to stay healthy over the holidays (that the rest of us don't)
Spoiler: They’re not that hard!
Moments before sitting down to write this, I ate the entire charcuterie board intended for my upcoming holiday party and half a box of chocolates that I was supposed to gift a co-worker. Why? Because it's the holidays, and if you're like me, you use that as an excuse to skip your workouts and binge-eat carbs. Clearly, I'm not qualified to write a health and fitness article, so I called upon the fittest, strongest and healthiest people I know for help. Each of them inspire me to be smarter about what I eat, and take better care of my body. As my gift to you this year, I've asked them all to share their best tips for enjoying a healthy, holiday season.
Focus on what you can eat, not what you can't eat
Eva Redpath is a wellness leader, co-active life coach, and the founding trainer at Barry's Bootcamp Canada.
"As you try to make healthier choices, don't focus on what you can't have — look at all the healthy alternatives you can have this holiday season. Fresh, whole, nutrient dense foods like green beans, sweet potato, turkey, and brussels sprouts will pop up on many holiday menus. These are delicious and nutritious options to fill your plate with. And remember that your habits outweigh your willpower. It takes 30 days to create a habit, 60 days to see progress and 90 days to see results. So don't throw in the towel if you're not seeing immediate results. Goals are crushed by pushing through, and trust me, you'll be better for it in the end."
Know what's good for you
David Kim-MacKinnon is a group fitness expert who started his career in boxing and basketball. He's been coaching others for the past 10 years and is in the process of opening his own boxing-inspired group fitness facility in Toronto, called Apollo TO.
"We've all heard nutritionists tell us to drink more water — but how will that help maintain a healthy diet? Well, staying hydrated speeds up metabolism. Increasing water intake will also fill you up, therefore you will take in fewer calories during your meal. Water helps fight off those nasty cravings, making it easier to select healthier options for your meals. Second to water, green tea should be your number one, go-to beverage when it comes to avoiding those winter pounds. There are so many benefits to drinking green tea! It's loaded with healthy plant components and of free radical fighting antioxidants; which help fight off diseases.
Lastly, a higher protein diet is your next step in maintaining a healthy balanced diet. Not only will protein rich foods prevent hunger pains, they also have a higher thermogenic effect. For example, for every 100 calories you eat, your body will burn anywhere from 20-30% of those calories just by the physical digestion of the food. Therefore you net fewer calories, thus increasing your total caloric deficit. The bigger the deficit, the greater the overall fat loss."
Don't let "winter" be an excuse to skip the gym
Chloe Bent is a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and healthy eating for weight loss coach. She is the on-air host of CBC Fit Class Live and the blogger behind The Sweat Movement.
"You don't always need to leave the house to get a great workout in. I focus on a simple and sustainable approach to fitness and do a lot of my workouts at home, in my basement. If you can invest in a pair of dumbbells, a resistance band and sliders, you can create your own home gym right in your living room. This way you won't miss a workout when there's a snowstorm outside.
If the shorter days are making it harder to get out of bed in the morning, try this: before you go to sleep at night, set an alarm on your phone and put it outside of your bedroom. When the alarm goes off, you're forced to get out of bed to turn it off. Now that you're up, you might as well get your day and workout started! It also helps if you try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep plays a critical role in your fitness journey. When you don't get enough sleep, you're more likely to skip workouts and overeat throughout the day. (And when you're well rested, you're less likely to hit the snooze button.)"
Schedule something and stick to it
Michelle August is the owner and founder of SPINCO; Canada's largest indoor cycling studio.
"Even though the holiday season comes with a busy schedule, there's always time to pencil in a quick workout to stay active. It may not be your regular workout, at your usual time of day, but if you plan ahead, you can usually fit something in very early or late that doesn't get in the way of your day. Booking a class at a local spin or fitness studio helps, because you've already taken the steps to commit to the class. Class environments are good for motivating you to get there and get it done!
It also helps if you find an activity you love. I like to ski and snowboard during the winter. I grew up in Kelowna, B.C. so I've been doing both since I was young and I find them easy ways to stay active in the winter while doing something I enjoy."
Budget your calories
Nik Vasilyev is a Canadian TV personality. He started his media career as a fitness expert but has since expanded to covering many other topics.
"Over the holidays, I'm more strict with my daily food choices when I know I have holiday events planned at the end of the week. I know a lot of my calories will come from those events, so I try to make room for them over the days leading up. But remember, not all holiday dishes are "bad" for you. For instance, a roasted ham. Unless it's covered in sugary sauces, ham is a really lean meat that won't carry a ton of calories from fat content, and it'll keep your metabolism burning like a furnace. I also always try to work out the day of the big holiday event, or at least the day before, to deplete my body of its energy stores. Then, the calories from my big meal will replenish those stores, and I put those calories to good use the next day. The best workouts are on the days after a big feast… trust me."
Don't do it alone
Brodie Lawson is the host for the Canadian Football League. She has started two fitness and health related challenges, #GreyCupFitUp and #TheCFLGrind, encouraging fans to commit to 100 days of healthy habits by checking in everyday with an online community over social media.
"This is the time of year when everyone is looking to reconnect with friends and family, and it can often lead to over indulging in SO many areas. Try meeting a friend for a "social workout"! Catch up with loved ones over a long walk or jog, instead of over candy and cocoa. I am 100% more likely to workout if I am meeting a friend at the gym, or if I know they will be waiting on the corner of my street, ready to run at 6:30am. But make sure you pick a friend who is as committed as you (two people who regularly bail won't work)! If all else fails, and you're on your own, just put your workout clothes on, get on the treadmill, or get outside for just 15 minutes — enough to sweat. I bet with a great podcast or playlist going you'll end up working out for much longer — and enjoying it!"