by Lizzie Meyers
On the often cold, grey days that ring out the year, watching movies all day with a mug of hot cocoa can certainly seem more appealing than braving the blistering winds that stand before the gym. However, don’t the let yourself fall into hibernation mode. As you know, this is the time of year when eggnog, baked brie, and sugar cookies are served at every cocktail party. Unless you have tremendous self-control, overeating during the holiday season is bound to occur. Pair those extra calories with a lack of exercise, and metabolic issues such as weight gain and insulin resistance could come as unwanted gifts this year. Luckily, exercise can help.
A recent study in the Journal of Physiology examined the effect of daily exercise on the body in relation to overeating and found some remarkable results. Participants of the study were broken into two groups: the first of which ran 45 minutes per day, and the latter of which remained sedentary. Both groups upped their daily caloric intake by 50%. In just one week, the non-exercising group showed a drastic decrease in blood-sugar control and an unhealthy effect of fat cells on the metabolism. Though their net caloric intake was equally increased, the exercise group on the other hand did not exhibit any significant consequences to their health.
What that means? While this doesn’t praise over-indulgence by any means, if you do expect to consume a few extra treats in your holiday future, make sure at the very least to hit the gym. Need some motivation? Try these tips:
Get some new jams
Great music can does wonders for your workout. It will often boost endorphins, pump you up, and distract you from the physical exertion. Get a new album that makes you happy and you’ll have that to look forward to with every gym visit.
Make it a morning routine
Exercise upon waking, and you’ll feel like a rock star for the remainder of your day. Sure, it might be a tough sell when the alarm clock goes off, but this way, you get your workout out of the way early. Waiting until the end of the day only gives you more time to talk yourself out of it. While it might feel hard at first, stick with your morning moves and they’ll become a breeze in no time.
Find a workout buddy
Gym visits are much more appealing as a social activity. Busy schedules can make it difficult to squeeze in any time to see friends, let alone go to they gym. Don’t sacrifice one over the other, but instead combine the two. Multitasking when it comes to your health is rarely a bad idea.
By Leslie Barrie, First Posted on Shape.com
Curb your sweet tooth
Got a late-night sugar craving that just won’t quit? “To satisfy your sweet tooth without pushing yourself over the calorie edge, even in the late night hours, think ‘fruit first,'” says Jackie Newgent, RD, author of The Big Green Cookbook. So resist that chocolate cake siren, and instead enjoy a sliced apple with a tablespoon of nut butter (like peanut or almond) or fresh fig halves spread with ricotta. Then sleep sweet, knowing you’re still on the right, healthy track.
Find the best fitness friend
A workout buddy is hugely helpful for keeping motivated, but it’s important to find someone who will inspire—not discourage. So make a list of all your exercise-loving friends, then see who fits this criteria, says Andrew Kastor, an ASICS running coach: Can your pal meet to exercise on a regular basis? Is she supportive (not disparaging) of your goals? And last, will your bud be able to keep up with you or even push your limits in key workouts? If you’ve got someone that fits all three, make that phone call.
Stock up on these
While there are heaps of good-for-you foods out there, some key ingredients make it a lot easier to meet your weight-loss goals. Next grocery store run, be sure to place Newgent’s top three diet-friendly items in your cart: balsamic vinegar (it adds a pop of low-cal flavor to veggies and salads), in-shell nuts (their protein and fiber keep you satiated), and fat-free plain yogurt (a creamy, comforting source of protein). “Plus, Greek yogurt also works wonders as a natural low-calorie base for dressings and dips—or as a tangier alternative to sour cream,” says Newgent. Talk about a multitasker!
Relieve those achy muscles
After a grueling workout, there’s a good chance you’re going to be feeling it (we’re talking sore thighs, tight calves). Relieve post-fitness aches by submerging your lower body in a cold bath (50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit; you may have to throw some ice cubes in to get it cold enough) for 10 to 15 minutes. “Many top athletes use this trick to help reduce soreness after training sessions,” says Andrew Kastor. And advice we love: “An athlete training for an important race should consider getting one to two massages per month to help aid in training recovery,” adds Kastor. Now that’s speaking our language!