A Simple & Effective Plan To Indulge Without The Bulge

I'm the first to admit that my motivation to stay on a healthy routine completely diminishes during the holiday season. The gym doesn't exactly come to mind while snuggled up on the coach eating leftovers. Though that's not necessarily a bad thing — our schedules are jam-packed all year so we should allow ourselves to enjoy a relaxed schedule once in a while — the indulgences can have an effect on our healthy habits.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your energy up and allow the body to burn fat during the entire season. Follow this five day eating and workout plan, and you won't have to worry about getting back on track after the holiday is over because you'll have been there all along. Enjoy yourself AND look fabulous!

Nutrition

During the holidays, I follow David Zinczenko's "8-Hour Diet," which prescribes eating what we want, when we want, within an eight hour window. The specific timing will reset your metabolism so you can start burning fat first thing in the morning and continue all day long.

All that's required is eating two of eight "power foods" at each meal or snack. These include lean sources of protein, nuts, yogurt and other dairy, legumes, berries, fruit, green leafy vegetables and whole grains. Not only does eating like this burn fat around the clock, it also increases energy.

If you know you're going to have an evening of indulgences, start your eight hour window around noon and finish around 8 pm. If your family goes all-out at breakfast, your window will be from 10 am to 6 pm. The closer you are to exactly eight hours, the more effective this plan will be.

The Workout

Good news! You don't have to run a marathon or spend hours in the gym to burn off that extra slice of pumpkin pie. This is the time to workout smarter, not longer. Focusing your exercises on high intensity intervals will burn fat even while you're lying on the couch watching holiday specials on TV.

This workout shouldn't take any longer than 25 minutes, so you won't have to worry about missing any of the fun. Perform the HIIT intervals on a cardio machine of your choice. If you prefer to be outdoors, you can definitely perform interval sprints, jump rope or stadium run.

Warm up: Jog or slowly jump rope for two minutes.

Main Set:

  • Run or jump rope as fast as possible for 30 seconds.
  • Slow down to a jog for 45 seconds.
  • Run or jump rope as fast as possible for 30 seconds.
  • Slow down to a jog for 45 seconds.
  • Repeat this pattern for 20 minutes.
  • Take a few minutes to stretch and refuel with a post-workout shake.

Mindset

All the travel, family and cooking required during the holidays can definitely get stressful. Instead of letting it get to you, take control and maintain a positive mood. I find just five minutes of yoga and deep breathing can make all the difference. I go into a quiet room and hold a few yoga poses. This completely resets my mood and energy levels.

Have a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday!

Photo courtesy of the author

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