The holidays are upon us, which makes us think about minutes in a whole different way! Everything at this time of the year is done at a faster pace and in a bigger fashion. We tend to eat more, drink more, fit more parties and activities in, spend more money, sleep less and forget about weight loss. It's not unusual for most of us to feel time crunched wishing for just a few more minutes (or hours) each day to get things done. And then, as fast as we create the holidays, they disappear!
Oftentimes, we let the holidays leave us exasperated, exhausted and a few pounds heavier. Now, I know that weight loss over the holidays isn't usually in the cards, but certainly we can come out with an even score. Instead of feeling like you are starting over from rock bottom on Jan. 1, let's just not fall behind!
This year, I want you to make a choice. Don't eat and drink your way through the parties and don't ditch your exercise routine completely for shopping and baking. Just be creative with how you use your minutes. Here are a few tips to help you use your holiday minutes wisely. If you don't believe that a few minutes can make a weight loss difference, remember that in less that one minute you can consume 100 calories at a holiday party. And, keep in mind that in 10 minutes, you can work those 100 calories off! So if you manage your minutes wisely, you'll be able to start the new year feeling good.
Shop Online Don't get me wrong, I'm a retail-lover, just not at the holidays. Nothing gets my stress levels flowing faster than long lines and crowds at the stores. Spending time waiting in stores not only leaves you frustrated and in a bad mood but also takes away time to do things like exercise and stock your house with healthy food. If you get started now on the computer, free gift wrapping and shipping are available from many online retailers. It'll come as no surprise to you that I send my family fresh fruit baskets for Christmas (they would expect nothing less from me)!
Stop, Drop and Roll Instead of burning the candle into the wee hours every night, just STOP what you're doing; DROP into bed; and ROLL over! Nothing horrible will happen if you let some decorating wait until tomorrow. Instead, your body will thank you. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain, and I believe that if you aren't getting enough sleep you're more likely to make poor choices when it comes to weight loss and fitness.
Get Moving! Try finding exercise minutes each day to get your heart pumping. Remember, I said minutes, not hours. Ten minutes is better than nothing. In fact, 10 minutes can burn off a few hors d'oeuvres, a glass of wine or it can just simply be a healthy release of stress. Especially at this time of the year when you're ingesting more calories, a brisk walk on the treadmill or elliptical can keep your jeans from feeling tight. Remember, it's all about calories in vs. calories out. And I find that 10 minutes in the morning is often the best time for weight loss during the holidays since our days get busy with extra to-do's and social events throughout the day.
Don't Forget Strength Training Maintain your muscle mass by doing a few minutes of strength training each day. Try a few tricep dips while watching a holiday TV special with your kids, do some walking lunges as you talk on the phone to your relatives, pump out a few pushups before you get in the shower. Better yet, try a few multi-joint movements to save time. Do lunges with overhead shoulder presses. Do squats with bicep curls. Throw in a few core body crunches.
Stick With the Five-a-Day Plan Make sure to get your fruits and vegetables. In a bid to cut calories and save time, we often forgo the foods that would nourish us during the holidays. The excess sugar we often consume at the holidays gives us a high and then energy lows. So fill up on healthy food -- eat five fruits and vegetables a day before you allow yourself to snack on holiday treats. Those few extra minutes you take to plan some healthy snacks and meals will save you many minutes of burning off extra calories later!
Control the Risk for Temptation Avoid constantly putting yourself in situations that tempt you. For example, walking through the break room at work 10 times a day when you know it's filled with holiday treats and candies isn't to your advantage. Spend a few minutes in the morning packing a healthy snack (like almonds, a piece of fruit or a yogurt) so you'll have a healthy, weight loss alternative. And don't place treats on your kitchen counter to stare you in the face or take four desserts off the buffet vowing to take only one bite of each.
Be Careful of Liquid Calories Holidays are notorious for tempting us with drinks we wouldn't normally consume. Alcohol offers no nutrients -- just empty calories and we often forget to count them. Eggnog coffee drinks with whipped cream, hot toddies, spiced rum; these drinks can have as many calories as a personal pan pizza! Limit your consumption and instead order sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice. It'll look festive and save calories.
So give yourself the gift of staying on the weight loss track this holiday season by spending some extra minutes to plan and stay healthy. Believe me, come January you'll agree that it was the best gift you received!