In The Fitness Spirit

How to avoid the holiday weight gain tradition.

Give/get the gift of fitness. Ask for workout gear, a gym membership or prepaid exercise classes to encourage you to keep up with your fitness routine. Give the same kinds of gifts, and you’ll be repaid with a workout partner.

Watch the booze. Straight alcohol is just a glass of empty calories, and if you’re indulging in eggnog or any other creamy cocktail, you’ve just drank dessert. Limit the high-fat dairy drinks, and avoid the bottomless wineglass. And don’t get drunk. Besides the personal humiliation factor, impaired judgment leads to unconscious eating and bad food choices.


The Morning After

But what happens if despite your good intentions things get out of hand? This time you really outdid yourself and ate and drank enough to single-handedly “bring gluttony back.” First, don’t beat yourself up. It’s done. But don’t give up. Once you’ve had a binge, it’s important to get back on track immediately so things don’t spiral out of control. Just brush the crumbs off your face, comb the frosting out of your hair and adopt a morning-after plan.

Start by rehydrating. Drink a few glasses of water followed by a cup of tea. Chances are you’re hung over and dehydrated, so getting the fluids back will help you flush your system, eliminate toxins and regulate your metabolism; plus, the tea will settle a bubbly stomach. Next up is reestablishing good eating habits. You’ll need to reset your diet with food that will give you energy to get you moving but won’t spike your blood sugar.

Plan a high-protein day. Start with eggs for breakfast. They’re packed with protein and will keep you feeling fuller longer without making you sluggish. Then throughout the day snack on a small handful of nuts. Almonds and walnuts are full of antioxidants and heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats. For a midday pick-me-up, add some citrus since foods rich in vitamin C have been proven to increase energy and alertness. For lunch and dinner, fuel up with fish. The omega acids in fish like fresh tuna and salmon help to balance blood sugar and prevent energy highs and lows.

Finally, move your body. You may not be up for an intense interval workout, so opt for an endurance session. Take a brisk, 45+ minute walk or engage in another low-intensity activity. It’s a smart way to restart your exercise program, and it won’t burn you out or leave you too sore or exhausted to workout the next day.

Alicia Villarosa is a regular contributor to The Root.