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Tips to keep your fitness on track

Karen Hawthorne is a health and lifestyle writer and producer in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications including Glow, Homemakers, BestHealthMag.ca and the National Post.

Don’t let holidays derail your fitness

With sweets, cocktails and making merry on overload during the festive season, fitting in exercise and not sabotaging the progress you've made throughout the year can be a challenge. But it can be done, says personal trainer and performance nutritionist Gidon Gabbay of G Force Home Training in Toronto. Here's how.

Woman running in snow

Prepare instead of repair

A hectic social schedule and social-event eating can derail efforts to keep workouts and nutrition on track. But planning is key, trainer Gidon Gabbay says. "I like to tell people to 'prepare' for the holidays, rather than having to 'repair' after, and work out regularly before the holidays start, so that it is already part of your regular routine when the festivities begin."

Workout mode: Shorter, higher intensity

Don't ditch the workout routine and decide to re-start in the new year. If you increase your workout intensity and frequency before the holidays and maintain it throughout, you can completely avoid the dreaded New Year's resolution to lose weight, Gabbay says.

Making your workouts shorter, more intense and doing a lot of them at home all make keeping your workouts on track much more manageable. Heading down to the basement or setting up in front of the living room TV for a 30-minute circuit is much less daunting than driving 20 minutes to the gym in a blizzard, changing out of all your winter gear, waiting for machines and spending more than an hour there (not to mention showering, changing and the drive home). If going to the gym is part of your regular routine, keep it up; just make sure you have an at-home option for when you really can't make it.

The home circuit holiday workout

Try a fast-paced circuit with no rest time in between sets, he suggests: Alternate a minute of jumping rope (or jumping jacks if you don't have a rope or the space) with activities like squats, lunges, push-ups and tricep dips off the seat of a chair to keep your heart rate up. That way you can get a resistance and cardio workout in a short period of time.

Exercise to beat holiday stress

Taking 30 minutes for yourself each day and putting all your focus and energy into your workout is a great way to get your mind off the pressure and the hectic pace of the holiday season, he says. "You can use the time to regroup and refresh your mind so that you are recharged and ready to get back at it."

Turn visits into exercise opportunities

Getting out for a brisk, extended walk is always a great way to keep fit, weather permitting. Making a walk a part of family gatherings is a great way to spend some time together and be active, Gabbay says. "Your health and fitness should be just as important as party planning and attendance."

Should you still indulge?

As long as you don't have an immediate goal that you are trying to reach, like a significant amount of weight loss in a set time-frame, there is nothing wrong with having a drink or two and a few sweets, Gabbay says. "Unless you have to, I wouldn't use this as a time to try to lose weight. The goal should be to enjoy everything in moderation and maintain your health and fitness throughout the season."

snowed-in workout ideas

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Check out this 5-minute workout for women that can be performed at home.

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