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The holiday season is full of fitness-busting temptations that pack on pounds, but there’s no rule that we must succumb and make heroic but hard-to-keep resolutions in January. Instead of simply trying to avoid holiday weight gain or struggling to stay on track, why not stand out from the crowd and set a goal to be a fitter you by the time the big ball drops in Times Square? Take advantage of fitness opportunities of the season (yes, there are some) and slide into the New Year in better shape.
1. Focus on Today
“People say, ‘I’ll go to the gym tomorrow, because it’s always there,’ but your mindset has to be on today, not tomorrow,” says Reggie Chambers, a personal trainer in New York whose clients range from newbies of all ages to elite athletes and celebrities. Acting now is the way to move forward, so put a workout at the top of your to-do list and set new fitness goals. Then in January, you can show up svelte and beaming while co-workers are complaining about having to wear their fat pants.
2. Take Advantage of Less-Crowded Gyms
January is peak time for people joining health clubs, and although many stop coming after a few weeks, “it’s too crowded” can be an easy excuse to stay home. And truthfully, it can be frustrating to wait for your favorite equipment while a newcomer takes forever trying to figure out how to use it. (Don’t act now, and that befuddled newbie could be you.) In contrast, says Chambers, “Gyms are fairly empty during the holiday season.” Enjoy having the run of the place, like a VIP.
3. Get Fitness Friends
“You need motivation,” says Chambers. “And with a group or friend, you have camaraderie, someone who says ‘C’mon, you gotta work out.’” To look beyond your own circle, try meetup.com or find discounted classes in health clubs and yoga, Pilates, or other studios at livingsocial.com.
4. Dance the Night Away
Accept invitations to parties where there’s dancing and put on your dancing shoes! An hour on the dance floor is not only fun but can also burn a few hundred calories, and it keeps food and drinks out of your mouth. Just be sure to drink plenty of plain or fizzy water when you take a break.
5. Watch the Booze
Friends can pressure you to drink more than usual, but it’s the worst thing to do. “When you eat, you can burn the food as fuel, but alcohol is empty calories,” says Chambers. Pace yourself, and for each bar drink, aim to have two glasses of water or plain soda or seltzer, maybe with lime or lemon wedges. The older you are, the slower alcohol is metabolized, and the worse the effect.
6. Shop Offline
Even if you like shopping online, exploring local brick-and-mortar offerings can inspire ideas for gifts and party outfits, and it’s a fun way to reduce the sitting-is-the-new-smoking syndrome in our daily lives. Plus, a little digital disconnect is good for the soul.
“Getting in shape is a lifestyle change, like learning a new language,” says Chambers, “You have to work at it consistently, and if you don’t, you’ll only learn bits and pieces.” As well as exercise, it includes getting enough sleep and eating right—no junk food,” he says. “Clean protein, and vegetables are always basics. You have to commit. That’s the only way you’ll see the best you possible.”
8. Try the Exercise Calorie Converter App AthleteInMe.com
See how much exercise it takes to burn off the calories in what you eat. For example, a double burger, fries, and a 16-ounce soda with about 1,200 calories could take:
- Walking: over 3 hours
- Biking: over 2 hours
- Swimming: nearly 2 hours
- Jogging: nearly 1.5 hours
The app includes over 5,000 foods, drinks and meals from most popular chain restaurants, and is personalized for your weight.
Did you know? Every minute of cross-country skiing burns more than twice as many calories as jogging.
9. In-Office Exercises
Aside from taking a break to walk around, push-ups, squats, and lunges can be done anywhere. Chambers also suggests 10–15 repetitions of these:
- Get up from your chair with your weight on only one leg, keeping the other foot off the floor, and sit back down. If it’s hard to balance, hold on to the desk, and make sure the chair doesn’t slide back behind you.
- Sitting at your desk, hands by your side, clench your fists, and slowly do bicep curls. For extra resistance, hold a couple of heavy books or other objects.
- Stand up and do calf raises. Take your shoes off and slowly rise onto your tiptoes, and then slowly lower heels back to the ground.