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Start the New Year Ahead of the Game!

Why all the hoopla over the holiday bulge? The trouble isn't necessarily the number of pounds we put on; it's that once we've gained one or two, we can't get rid of them.

There are lots of ways to continue your exercise program in spite of a hectic holiday schedule to stay slim no matter what. Simply follow these strategies:

Stay motivated

It's not uncommon for people to gain up to 10 lbs. during the holiday months. Take heart: This does not have to happen to you! Focus on the benefits you stand to gain if you continue working out through the fall and winter months. Make it your goal to start the New Year ahead of the game - not with an extra 10 lbs. to lose.

Exercise is critical to control weight this time of the year. Keep your workouts consistent throughout the holiday season to compensate for any extra seasonal calories.

Exercise will help burn off some additional calories. Keep in mind, however, that you have to run approximately 30 minutes to burn off one piece of nut fudge.

Maintain a regular exercise schedule

Commit to 15 to 60 minutes, 7 days a week. Vary your workouts depending on how much time you have. Write your workout schedule in your calendar and keep these appointments.

Ideally, you should exercise first thing in the morning. This way, you won't have to blow it off because of a social gathering later in the day. This can be as simple as a 15-minute walk some days, but it's VERY important that you do something everyday. This keeps your metabolism elevated, helps to control your appetite, and energizes you!

Take a walk

The holidays are often spent with family and friends. Do some of that socializing while walking or cycling, or go to the gym together for a weight workout.

Too chilly to go outdoors? Try indoor cardio alternatives such as jump rope, exercise videos, step ups hold weights in each hand and step up and down on a 4"- 8" step. Or, when doing holiday shopping, give yourself extra time to do 20 minutes of dedicated mall walking.

showshoeing.jpg Take advantage of the season and do some winter outdoor activities with the family, like skiing, sledding or tubing, ice skating, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. These fun activities burn between 450 and 600 calories per hour for a 150-pound person. If time is an issue, shorten your cardio, workout but increase the intensity by doing intervals. Alternate 20-30 seconds of more difficult bursts with 2 minutes of your usual intensity.

Inserting mini-workouts into your day can do wonders for your waist line. If you don't have time for a full cardio workout, do 5-10 minute increments. Walk up and down the stairs, get on a cardio machine, go for a walk, do step-ups or jump rope.

If you weight train, 1 set of 12 reps will help you maintain your muscle mass for a short time if you don't have time to get your full workout in.

Focus on the "big three" weight training exercises in the gym

  1. Chest Press or Pushup
  2. Leg Press or Squat
  3. Lat Pulldown or Row
These compound moves will target most of your muscles groups.

Between shopping and your next holiday bash, try the following basic moves for one minute each to burn extra calories and raise your energy level:

  • One minute: Squats
  • One minute: Push-ups
  • One minute: Plank
With a little advanced planning, and a healthy dose of self-discipline, this could be the year that you come through the holiday season more fit and trim.

Maria Faires, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist and freelance writer based out of Sammamish, WA. Maria is considered to be one of Western Washington's premier fitness and nutrition experts. As the owner of Active Nutrition Fitness & Consulting, Maria provides highly personalized nutrition services, personal training and preventative and post-rehabilitative fitness programming in her private training studio. She also provides Skype, phone and online nutrition counseling and training for remote clients. Maria leads the industry in the development of cutting edge fitness and nutrition techniques as well as innovative and unique fitness programming. Maria expertly designs every workout, nutrition plan and provides the personal attention, extra motivation, support and accountability that helps her clients achieve optimal performance and health. Contact or read more about Maria at www.myactivenutrition.com.



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