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Eat, Celebrate, Stay Fit

By Aarti Patel Email By Aarti Patel
November 2012
Eat, Celebrate, Stay Fit


While the holidays can be a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, it can also be a time when your workouts and fitness can be neglected, leaving you several pounds heavier.


With all the upcoming festivities, beginning with Diwali and ending with Christmas and New Year’s Eve, one is sure to be left with a holiday bulge that would be tough to reverse come January. Is it possible to sail through the holiday season without gaining any weight and staying true to your fitness? Why, yes, it is! These are some of my fitness tips when it comes to maintaining your fitness during the holiday season.

Keep a calendar or planner: Just as you would manage your work schedule, manage your food intake and workouts during the next two months. Write in the parties, dinner events, lunches and brunches that you are invited to in your planner. Next pick one event a week that you will splurge at—and only that one will you splurge at! Circle this event in your calendar. On the other events, make a note in your planner that you will eat a healthy meal before you go to that event, and make sure you do just that. Your meal should consist of a good protein source such as lean meats or quinoa along with a complex carbohydrate. By doing so, you’ll remain full and won’t be tempted to indulge. Once you are at the event, nibble on fresh veggies from the veggie tray or any other low calorie food. Never go to any event starving, as this spells disaster!

Maintain your workout: The holiday season is clearly not the time to put your workouts on hold. In the same planner, schedule at least three to four workouts each week and stick with it. In my opinion it is best to plan workouts early in the morning as you get it out of the way whereas in the evening there is a greater possibility of cancelling as things may come up. On your “splurge” day (such as Thanksgiving Day), schedule a high-intensity cardio workout. My favorite is running sprints on the treadmill early morning before breakfast. By doing this your metabolism will be revved up all day and you will burn those extra splurge-day calories.

Desserts and Alcohol: This is where the most calories are consumed and where people mess up the most. Alcohol and desserts are full of empty calories. Certain mixed drinks can contain up to 400 calories. Have several of these in a night combined with desserts and you’ve easily consumed over a 1000 calories! Alcohol will also impair your judgment about healthy food choices and cause you to eat more. If you must have a drink, choose a glass of wine or a light beer over mixed drinks and liquor. Or, try a wine spritzer. Space out your drinks with plain club soda and lime—zero calories. Limit yourself to no more than one or two glasses of an alcoholic beverage and only once or twice a week. Allow yourself to have only one small serving of dessert on your splurge day.

Other tips: If going to a party, offer to bring a dish and then make something healthy and low in calories. At least you’ll have something healthy to eat if all the other dishes are calorie-laden. Keep your water intake to 10-12 glasses per day even though it’s winter and try to have a glass of water before you eat. Avoid late-night eating and maintain some form of sensible eating schedule even though this can be a hectic time. Don’t mindlessly eat just because you’re stressed and have too much to do or if others are eating around you. Always be in control of your meals and don’t be persuaded by others to indulge, because all those extra, unused calories will turn to body fat. Overall, stay positive and focused and remember that the more control you have of your food and fitness, the better off you’ll be, come January!

[Aarti Patel serves as the columnist for Fitness Lifestyle. She has a B.Sc. in Health Information Administration and is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal and Group Fitness Instructor, and Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach. She can be reached at (404) 376-5655; info@aartifitness.com. This column rotates monthly along with the Ask the Doctor column by Gulshan Harjee, M.D.]

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