The holiday season can feel like you’re riding the fastest, most exciting yet stressful roller coaster of all time! It flies by in an instant, but still somehow takes you to 10 different holiday parties, five family reunions, 20 chocolate boxes, and 20 gift boxes. Throughout this hectic holiday period, the accumulation of stress (social and financial), over-indulgence (chocolate, cookies, and more chocolate) and a nonexistent fitness routine (does eating count as exercise?) tends to take a toll on your body. Maybe you don’t fit into your favorite jeans anymore or you can’t stop stress-eating your mom’s leftover gingerbread cookies. Whatever it may be, it’s time to take back control of your diet and fitness and get back on the path to good health. With these diet tips, fitness tricks, and wellness essentials, ringing in the new year with a new you will be a piece of cake (even if you’re swearing the stuff off for a while).
A new year calls for a new eating plan
For the majority of us, the holidays = indulgence. We look forward to this season to gorge on caramel chocolates, fruit tartlets, chocolate chip cookies, clafoutis, and plenty more scrumptious treats. The sugar rush kept us wired throughout the Christmas chaos, but soon we crashed, and started noticing grandma’s cheesecake bites taking the form of a little muffin top. Before they get too comfortable, kick the holiday weight gain with a little detox to get things back on track. Here are a few tricks to help cleanse your body and reset your nutrition after a rough holiday season.
Enlist the help of lemon water
Make yourself a cup of hot lemon water every morning upon waking up. This warm concoction will boost your immune system – thanks to the lemon’s vitamin C – help your digestion, flush out toxins, and cleanse the liver. It will also cancel out the effects of high sugar consumption by increasing hydration, promoting weight loss, and clarifying your skin. Who knew a lemon infused brew could do so much?
Intermittent fasting is the perfect way to reap all the benefits of fasting – fat burn, weight loss, better heart health – without feeling food-deprived. Intermittent fasting allows you to eat from 12pm to 7 pm until full satiety (if that means five servings of green beans, five servings of mashed potatoes, and five servings of chicken, go for it). Eat without restriction within this 7-hour time frame, but then for the next 16 hours (post 7pm), you’ll be restricted to coffee, tea, and of course, (hot lemon) water. While the process seems hardeous, it really isn’t! Your body will quickly adapt to your new eating habits, and you won’t be craving breakfast after a week or two. Easy, right?
Kick your sugar habit
If there’s one thing you indulge a little too much in during the holidays, it’s probably sugar. Unfortunately, the more you get into the habit of eating sugar, the more you crave it too. That’s why going on something of a sugar detox can help reset your system and nix your constant sweet tooth after a sweet-filled season. “Sugar Free 3,” the latest book by award-winning health editor Michele Promaulayko, lays out a simple 3-week plan to help shake your dependence on sugar; a plan that comes with the added benefits of more energy, better sleep, and surprisingly easy weight loss.
INTERVIEW ALERT: Check out our Q&A with Michele Promaulayko about the release of her book, “Sugar Free 3,” and how you can kick sugar cravings and reset your body with her simple 3-week plan.
Build a realistic fitness plan, and stick to it
Even though we stuff our faces with tarte tatin (my favorite!) and chocolate chip cookies during the holidays, we do it with the intention to work out twice as hard in the new year, right? (Cue crickets…) This year, why not actually turn those intentions into actions. Here are a few exercise tips to help you get in shape this year after going a little easy on the gym time over the holidays.
Shock your body with HIIT training
Jump right into the thick of it by trying a 3-week fat-burning HIIT-infused fitness program, combined with cardio. In those three weeks, train three times a week. For each workout, do your cardio as you might usually (maybe it’s running, or a little time on the elliptical) and then wrap up with a 15-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) session: sprint for one minute, and walk for two. Repeat this five times and voila, you’ll be in prime shape in no time (that cheesecake muffin top is about to be toast).
Grab a gym buddy
When you haven’t worked out in a while, it can be tough to muster up the motivation to get things back in order at the gym. Having someone who is along for the ride with you can make all the difference when you’re getting started and need a little extra support. With a reliable gym buddy, you’ll be able to keep each other accountable and push each other to new limits.
Give yoga a try
Whether you’re a veteran yogi or you’re hitting the mat for the first time, yoga is a great way to relax your muscles after training – and rid yourself of all that leftover holiday stress. Yoga will remove all sources of tension in your back, neck, core etc. while working out your most inner-muscles. You’ll feel toned, and ready to take on the new year with ease, flexibility, and a renewed attitude.
Surf the self-care wave and say goodbye to stress
The holidays bring a lot of joy, but the six hours spent cooking Christmas dinner, the daily shopping trips in pursuit of the “perfect” gift, the time spent beeping your way through traffic, the kids having a singing (screaming?) contest in the living room, etc. can unconsciously cause a good amount of stress. That being said, take the first few weeks of January to cleanse the anxiety away.
Journaling can be the perfect outlet to express your victories, failures, excitement, worries, and everything else you’re feeling that might be weighing on you. Jotting everything down will instantly relieve you from those heavy, energy-consuming thoughts that have been cluttering your mind for the past few months. You’ll feel an incredible tension release and may want to keep the new habit going throughout the year.
A little meditation can work wonders on getting rid of your stress. Centering yourself, and emptying your mind (for as few as 10 minutes in the morning) can be the perfect way to start off your day fresh! Fuel positive energy throughout your mind and body for greater peace, clarity, and happiness! Not really sure how to go about it? Luckily, there are plenty of apps and tools, like Headspace, for novice meditators to help you get a hang of it and reap its many benefits.