How in the world are you supposed to stay true to your health and fitness routine during the holiday season? For weeks you are bombarded with get-togethers, family food traditions and sweet treats in the office. Good for you if this constant storm of temptation is easy to ignore or navigate without a calculated plan of attack. Me? I'm only human and over the years, I've seen some of my great dietary/fitness routines implode during the seasons of giving! I got tired of watching my health and fitness gains evaporate around the time that eggnog hits grocery stores each year, so I crafted 3 rules that help me to stay on track:
rule #1: work first thing (WFT)
After you open your eyes, roll out of bed and shake off the cobwebs: it's time to move. It doesn't have to be much, but the WFT Rule will get your heart rate up and kick your body into gear. 15 push-ups, 15 jumping-jacks and 15 body weight squats will be enough. Of course if you feel like doing more or are a morning workout person anyhow, then just do what you do.
The point is that even a quick bout of vigorous activity before you crush your healthy breakfast will push you towards becoming better at burning fat for fuel throughout the day. Plus, what could energize you more than knocking out a mini-workout before you've even left the house for the day? You're already winning!
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rule #2: no fumbles at breakfast (NFB)
The WFT Rule will get you started, but make sure you take full advantage of it by pitching a perfect game at breakfast. Loading up on sugars and carbs first thing is not only unnecessary but it's going to slam the brakes on your fat burning attempts.
A few tips on taking advantage of the NFB Rule and design a breakfast that fuels your fat burning efforts:
- Eat real food if you're hungry, don't eat if you're not hungry.
- Drink a big glass of water before you sit down to eat. This will hydrate you and might even make you less ravenous first thing in the morning.
- Stick to healthy fats, proteins, fruits and veggies.
- Be sure any sugars/carbohydrates you do consume are of high quality and intensity such as those from yogurt, fruit, veggies, legumes, nuts or sprouted grains.
- Swap an actual orange or a grapefruit in for your glass of orange juice - 16oz of the typical store-bought OJ can have upwards of 24 teaspoons of total carbs/sugar without any of the benefits found in the real thing.
- Think outside the breakfast box - breakfast doesn't have to be limited to oatmeal, eggs or yogurt. Why not a breakfast salad, a grass-fed beef and veggie stir-fry, melon wrapped in prosciutto, a bowl of full-fat pastured ricotta cheese with raspberries and almonds or a big bowl of chicken and vegetable soup made with homemade bone broth?
rule #3: homemade desserts only (HDO)
Tempting sweet dessert-like treats are everywhere at both home and in the office during the holiday season. You better have a simple plan on how you are going to ward off these constant temptations and consume in moderation. I live by the HDO Rule during the holidays: the only desserts or baked goods that I responsibly enjoy are of the homemade variety. If it's not homemade then it's not for me. This allows me to enjoy some of my decadent homemade favorites while keeping consumption/temptation in check.
Stick to these 3 rules during the holiday season and you'll have no trouble enjoying your healthiest and most fit holidays yet!
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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and Founder of TD Athletes Edge, where he provides fitness, recovery and nutrition guidance to aspiring and professional athletes. For training advice, visit www.tdathletesedge.com and follow him on Twitter/Instagram through @tdathletesedge.