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The Calm Before Christmas

The holidays are an amazing time to reflect on the year, make plans for the future, and be with family. But as pop culture tells us, the holidays are also a time for weight gain. From white chocolate peppermint mochas to grandma's warm cookies, calories are everywhere. Plus, on top of that, people living in cold climates might not be as eager for a morning run.

There's still no reason you have to gain weight during the holidays. With some forethought and strategy, the holidays can be as fun as ever, just without the elastic waistbands. For the next few weeks, I want to share some of my favorite ways to stay healthy from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Eating sensibly is the best way to combat holiday poundage. A huge tip from our book is to keep up your nutrient intake. It's easy to eat way more refined flour and sugar around the holidays, but this can lead to a sugar-addled bender. Stay in your best health by eating lots of vegetables, especially greens and crucifers such as broccoli.  If your schedule is unpredictable, mix a powdered greens supplement into your drink or smoothie. I really like Macro Greens! Combined with protein and natural fats, this will keep your body in top form.

You can also get more nutrients by swapping out ingredients in more traditional holiday food. Use coconut and almond flours in cookies to get more satiating fiber and protein. Replace margarine with coconut oil or grass-fed butter to get better-quality fats. Honey, maple syrup, and molasses have more minerals than plain sugar. Regardless of nutrition, however, cookies still have calories, so if self-control is a problem, make sure you have other people in the house or neighborhood to eat your goodies.

When you feel good, you make better choices!

Exercise is another key part of keeping svelte under all those sweaters. A great way to combat workout apathy during the holidays is to set a goal, like being in the best shape you can for a New Year's party. It should be motivating, not stressful.

I wrote a lot about versatile, fast workouts in our book. These were all tested by students and professionals--often for them, it was a fast workout or no workout. A great way to get that kind of workout is interval training. Short bursts of intensity, alternated with a brief rest, burn tons of calories and are great for general fitness. These can be done with sprints on a treadmill or the sidewalk, or even in a confined space with jumping jacks or running in place. To start, set aside 15 minutes. Work hard for one minute, then walk for another minute. Repeat until time runs out. To improve, add more repetitions.

Another way to do intervals is to flip quickly between two exercises, with no rest in between. The exercises work different parts of the body, so part of you is resting while the other part works. To start, try this workout from our book:

10 pushups, followed by 20 lunges. Repeat 5 times to start and increase depending on your fitness. The goal is to be tired!

Always keep your core tight for maximum benefit.

Look out next week for more tips on staying healthy during the holidays

Karen Jashinsky is a personal trainer and the founder and Chief Fitness Officer of O2 MAX, a revolutionary fitness solution that combines online tools, social media, and real world workouts to provide an adaptable and personalized fitness regimen for students and busy people.

Join Karen on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for daily updates on how to lead your best active life. For more information on O2 MAX, click here.



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