When performing standing leg exercises, make sure you keep your eyes focused straight ahead in front of you. Many people lean forward and create misalignment in the spine and shoulders while doing leg work. Avoid neck and back injury and pain by looking ahead and standing up straight.
We live at a time in history when it is difficult for the average person to avoid weight gain. Decreased physical activity in our daily rituals and increased availability of high-calorie-dense (and great tasting) foods combine to create the perfect storm for increased fat storage on our bodies. And the holiday season—which stretches from October 31st, Halloween, straight through and without break to New Year’s Eve—is an exponential explosion of this very problem.
There are things you can do to counter the weight gain during the holiday season. I am not going to try to tell you that it is easy, but with a little forethought and some self-directive behaviors, you can minimize, if not avoid, the 7-10-pound gain typical of this time of year.
#1 Make shopping a cardio workout
The goal at the holidays is simply to increase energy burned so that the extra food doesn’t get stored as fat. With that in mind, you can sneak in time for cardio workouts if you combine it with your shopping. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a pair of sneakers and a towel and/or spare pair of comfortable clothes in your car and plan ahead so that you leave about 20-30 minutes extra for the days you plan to hit Crossgates, Colonie Mall, or Stuyvesant Plaza (to name just a few venues) for holiday shopping.
Before you go into the mall, put on your sneakers and either do an aggressive walk or a jog around the mall. You can use the walkways right next to the building as a jog/walk trail. They have lighting no matter what time you go. You don’t have to worry about being in traffic. You can use your phone to time 10 or 15 minutes in one direction and then turn around or go all the way around the mall for a monster workout. You can then return to your car, towel off, change into your casual clothes and go in to shop.
Doing this saves you the time of driving to the gym or other running location. It may be the difference between missing a workout and having a calorie burning, energizing cardio session.
It never feels like there is enough time to include exercise into a daily routine. During the holidays, it appears to be impossible. But you are not trying to train for a 5K or cross-country ski race. The goal of increasing calorie burn at this time of year isn’t dependent on doing a long, sustained workout. All you have to do is figure out how to get a couple of 10-minute blocks of movement interspersed into your day. Here are a few ideas on how to do this.
When you are on your computer at home at night and answering emails and doing “home” work, stop at 30 minutes and take a 10-minute break to do two alternating exercises for 10 reps each for 3 sets. For instance, do 10 abdominal crunches, then 10 standing squats to your chair. Repeat 3 times, then sit down and go back to your emails. Or, while you are sitting on the bleachers or in your car, watching your child have sport practice, walk or jog around the field or school hallways (if it is inside) for 5 minutes every half hour.
#3 Ask Santa for a home cardio machine
It costs time to go to a gym or even to “winter dress” to walk or run outside at this time of year. It also is dark when you may be able to fit in some cardio early morning before work or after work. All are barriers to doing a cardio workout session at a time when, arguably, you may most need it. For these reasons and more, I try to help all my clients find a way to get a piece of cardio equipment into their homes. You are more apt to use your own outdoor bike mounted on a $100 indoor trainer for 15 minutes before your morning shower than you are to make it to 5:30 a.m. spin class at the gym. You can jump on an elliptical machine for 15 minutes after dinner in your old ratty T-shirt and sweats at home and not worry about having to drive to the gym, put on workout clothes and then change and drive back home.
Asking Santa for a home cardio machine may not pay off this year from October through December but it can be an investment to avoid weight gain next year—especially if you have a year to establish a habit with actual consistent use.
Hopefully, one of these ideas can be integrated into your holidays or spark a creative workout idea of your own. It is NOT inevitable that you gain weight during the holidays.
Judy Torel is a USAT certified coach, has a Master’s degree as a psychotherapist/life coach, is a certified metabolic nutrition coach, 200 RYT yoga instructor, and ACSM certified fitness specialist. She is an ultra-distance runner and 6 time Ironman competitor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and her office is located at 116 Everett Road, Albany.