There's always more motivation to keep your body looking its best in the summer months when there's a chance you'll be showing more skin in bathing suits, dresses, tank tops and shorts. But when winter comes along, so do plenty of chances to throw all your hard work out the window.
If you managed to resist overindulging on Halloween candy and Thanksgiving stuffing, now comes the true test: holiday party cocktails and treats!
Here are some tips on how to make it through the season by keeping your hot body intact. First, put the hot cocoa down!
Plan ahead. It's easy to be tempted by delicious comfort foods this time of year. Experts advise planning ahead to avoid giving in. "Plan out your meals like you plan out your clothes," suggests Gloria Vitolo, a personal trainer for Plus One Health Management in New York.
Another tip? Eat early (and often!). Start making good food choices at breakfast and you'll be more likely to continue a pattern for healthy eating throughout the day, says Liz Davis, a wellness coach and licensed fitness instructor.
Timing is everything. The limited daylight hours during the winter months make it harder to squeeze in a workout, especially if you enjoy exercising outside. Davis suggests keeping athletic shoes in your car or at the office in order to decrease the temptation to just go home after the work day. And if you like to work out in the morning, have your clothes waiting right by the front door or laid out the night before.
"Limited daylight also causes a decreased production of the hormone serotonin which can leave some people feeling fatigued," Davis says. She recommends making sure you are getting adequate amounts of sleep to avoid the temptation for a post-work nap.
There is no research to prove that your body burns more calories/fat at one time of the day versus another. "The ideal time to work out is the one that works best for you and your schedule," Davis says.
Setting goals and rewards. It's imperative to set goals for ourselves when we are working out. Whether it's to reach a certain weight or dress size, Davis says "goals will create a road map to where you would like your health to be in the future." And rewarding ourselves is even better, but Vitolo advises that a reward should never include food.
"Exercise is a reward to your body, but [you can] reward yourself with pampering," she says. Keep in mind that the more attainable the goals, the more likely it is that you will see success.
Goals that are realistic are visually stimulating when you see results and that can be rewarding enough, says personal trainer Brand Will.
Tracking progress. A health/wellness journal or blog is a great way to increase motivation and keep yourself accountable to your health and fitness goals. Tracking your food can give you a better understanding of where you are. "Having a rough day and don't feel like working out?" Davis suggests you "read a few previous entries in your exercise journal to remind yourself of how energized, accomplished and happy you felt after you were finished!"
Get a work out buddy. Be sure to let a positive and supportive family member, friend or co-worker know what your goals are. This will not only help you to stay on track, but you may just motivate them to get healthy with you! "It helps people stay accountable," says Vitolo, but she notes that it can become a distraction. "It's great to have inspiring workout buddies," Will suggests, "but never solely rely on anyone but yourself for your passion to live a healthier lifestyle."
Focus on your mind, not just your abs. No matter how great you look it's just as important to feel good too. "Moderate exercise has countless other benefits such as decreasing your risk for [certain health issues]," Davis says. "Your exercise regimen should be a combination," To feel your best both in and out of the gym this winter, remember that working out is supposed to make you feel good. "Enjoy movement," Vitolo advocates. "Don't feel like exercise is a punishment."
"When you look great," Will explains, "You feel great. Period."
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