Healthy for the Holidays: Your 8 Week Plan to Get Fit

I know you probably don’t want to hear the word “holidays” just yet, but I promise in this context, it will actually reduce your stress.

Most people wait until after the holidays to worry about getting into shape, but with that mind frame, you are more likely to pack on not only the holiday pounds, but quite a few in the weeks leading up to them as well. We all know that the “I’ll take care of it later” mentality leads to “I’ll eat whatever the heck I want up until that point” actions.

This cycle can leave you feeling discouraged and hit your self-esteem pretty hard, making that New Year’s Resolution the same as it was last year. And the year before that…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could cross that “finally lose the weight” resolution off your list and move on to number two? Be it skydiving or paying off your credit card bill, I guarantee it will be more rewarding in a pair of skinny jeans.

It is easier to avoid holiday weight gain if you establish your healthy habits, exercise routine and nutrition plan before the Xmas cookies and egg nog hit. That way, your habits are set so you won’t so easily be persuaded to indulge, and if you do, your healthy lifestyle will easily absorb the occasional splurge.

There are 8 weeks until the holidays hit- just enough time to get you fit: the best present you could ever give yourself. Here’s how you can make it happen.

Nutrition

I know you hate to hear it, but no matter how much you exercise, if you want to see results, especially in such a short amount of time, you are going to have to be on top of your game when it comes to nutrition. Luckily, you can do it in 2 easy steps.

Watch your calories: First, you must figure out how many calories you need to consume each day to lose weight. Thankfully, we have a handy calorie calculator to figure out your needs. Got your number? Good. That’s how many calories it takes to maintain your weight. To safely lose weight, subtract 500 from that total. That’s how many calories you should eat per day to lose 1 pound of fat per week. Now here are some sample menus you can follow to make sticking to that total a no-brainer.

What is the 1,200 Calorie Diet?

What is the 1,400 Calorie Diet?

What is the 1,600 Calorie Diet?

What is the 1,800 Calorie Diet?

Cut the crap: A calorie is not a calorie. While quantity is important, the quality of those calories is as well. You have to cut the crap. For the next 8 weeks eliminate processed carbohydrates (which can cause bloating and effect your blood sugar causing unnecessary cravings), eliminate calorie-laden drinks, especially soda that is loaded with sugar, and anything with an ingredient list you cannot pronounce. While this may sound terrible while also having to cut calories, eating a healthy diet boosts your metabolism, causing you to burn even more calories, and will properly fuel your body for your workouts.

Stick to lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and a few healthy fats. Try to eat every 3-4 hours, which will result in 5-6 small meals a day. This will keep your metabolism revved and cravings at bay- a huge help when you are on a calorie restricted diet.

Exercise

You have to workout, and you have to workout often. Cardio is important for burning calories and cardiovascular health and strength training is necessary to increase metabolism and create a tight and toned physique.

Cardio: Cardio should be done 4-5 days a week, for about 30-60 minutes a workout, depending on your intensity. A general rule of thumb is you should burn around 300 calories a cardio session so use a heart rate monitor or the monitor on your cardio machine for an accurate count- but of course, the more calories you burn, the better your results.

Strength Training: People underestimate the importance of strength training. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn through out the day, so lift weights. In addition, strength training creates a toned and tight physique. Cardio may burn calories, but if you don’t have muscle underneath, you will be smaller but just as flabby. Strength training is the only way to actually change your shape.

Train each major muscle group (core, arms, chest, back and legs) 3 times a week, giving each muscle group at least 24 hours to rest between lifting sessions. Don’t know where to begin? Try our Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training.

Healthy habits

You’re not done. There are a few other things you can do to boost your results.

  • Drink water, and drink it often. Just carry a water a bottle with you where ever you go and fill it often. Drinking water will flush out toxins, decrease bloating, decrease cravings and will generally just make you feel better.
  • Make sure to get enough sleep, about 7-8 hours a day. Sleep gives your muscles time to rest and repair, and studies have found that people who get enough sleep eat fewer calories through out the day and lose weight faster.
  • Remember to relax. Holiday stress can lead to stress eating, so keep your cool with some relaxation techniques.

It’s going to take work, but if you really buckle down and stick to your plan, you can see noticeable results by the time the holidays hit. While most people will be resembling bowls full of jelly, you can get the rock hard abs you’ve always dreamed of.

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