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How to Stay Fit and Still Enjoy the Holiday Season


During the holiday season, it can be a challenge to fit in your workout and eat healthy when faced with tempting appetizers and sweet treats everywhere you turn. Charles Pelitera, EdD, assistant professor of kinesiology and coordinator of health and wellness at Canisius College, offers six simple tips to stay on track this holiday season while still enjoying some holiday cheer.

1) Make smart choices at holiday parties

“Focus on foods that have a high thermogenic effect, such as celery and carrots. Your body expends a significant amount of energy to burn the calories associated with consuming something as simple as celery. And eat foods that are primarily protein-based or complex carbohydrate-based. Proteins and complex carbohydrates require more energy to digest and therefore contribute to caloric burn.”

2) Have a healthy snack before attending parties to avoid overeating.

“Pair a complex carbohydrate such as a piece of whole-grain toast with a quality protein such as a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese. You will get the feeling of being full without consuming too many calories.”

3) Don’t drink your calories. Alcohol has seven calories per gram (only two less than fat). But if you want to have an alcoholic beverage, here are some suggestions.

“Choose light beer over regular, avoid sugared mixers, choose water or soda water as a mixer and avoid sweetened or even diet soda. Alternate a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks to provide a feeling of satiety (feeling full) and avoid intoxication.”

4) Do something physical, even if it’s not your normal workout.

“There is a lot of documentation that says that three, 10-minute bouts of cardiovascular exercise spread throughout the day can have a lot of benefit as far as caloric burn is concerned. If you spread out these workouts throughout the day, you will do a lot to boost your basal metabolic rate. And, that translates into keeping off those extra pounds most people put on during the holiday season. Take a short walk on your lunch hour, run up and down stairs, or spar with a punching bag.”

5) Avoid the “all-or-nothing” attitude when it comes to your workouts.

“If your normal workout is two hours and you only have 20 minutes, do a 20-minute workout. Most people just skip their workout but it’s much better to be flexible in your thought process. It is always preferred that you do something as opposed to nothing.”

6) Make exercise a fun, family holiday tradition.

“Take the family ice skating or try snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing. Even an after-dinner walk in the snow will give you a good caloric burn because your body has to fight to stay warm.”

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