How to keep fit this Christmas: advice from health & fitness professionals

Mara Feil, certified nutritional consultant

“Never, ever, go to a party, cocktail event, business dinner, charity event, etc. hungry. No one’s willpower is strong enough to resist trays filled with temptation, and just a few mini bites adds up the calories and sugar. Eat a substantial snack filled with protein and fibre before arriving at your event and you’ll be able to stick to your diet much more easily.

From the editors of Details Magazine

“Also, with so many open bars and passed cocktails during the holidays, it’s hard to keep track of how many drinks you’ve had. Every 30 minutes, put your cocktail down in favour of a glass of water (still or sparkling). The water helps you slow down, gives your liver a much-needed rest, and will save you a few hundred calories and grams of sugar over the course of the night. That’s the difference between a massive hangover the next morning and noticeable weight gain by New Years Day.”

Michelle Lovitt MA., fitness expert for ASICS 

“My No. 1 tip is don’t wait until after the holidays to start training. Offset the holiday “goodies” with a brisk walk, a hike, or even a workout DVD. Stay ahead of your fitness so you aren’t so overwhelmed when the new year arrives.

Alonzo Wilson’s, founder of Tone House NYC

“Obviously it’s great if you can get a sweat on every day, but another great tip is to take green coffee bean extract. It helps to burn calories and control appetite—Christmas cookies beware!

Yogi Cameron, Ayurvedic healer and author

“The issue of gaining weight really comes down to a simple equation: For the amount of food you’re consuming, are you burning equal amount of fat and energy so the body doesn’t store anything? There are also many other more complex reasons we can put on weight, like mixing incompatible foods or drinking too much liquid with your food. In any case, one practice which helps the digestion become stronger so you know food is being digested faster is to take a mixture of equal amounts of dry ginger, black pepper, and turmeric in a quarter cup of hot water and drink it before, during, or right after your meal. These herbs will make the digestion much stronger so all your food burns into energy and not fat.”

Julieanna Hever, registered dietitian

“Eat whole-r. Because fiber is the key to satiety, opt for whole-food ingredients throughout your holiday meals. Base your dishes on vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, herbs, and a bit of raw nuts and seeds to maximize your nutritional bang for your caloric buck.”

Dr. Coral Arvon

“We need more impulse control, especially during holidays. Make sure that you eat three meals and three snacks every day to help avoid impulsive eating. Healthy fruits, veggies and potatoes will work well for snacks, this way you might not notice the holiday cookies in the window of your favorite bakery, or, on the other hand, if someone offers you holiday cookies you might take one and not three.

“While holiday shopping, try to keep a Listerine breath strip on your tongue—it will temporarily overwhelm your sense of smell while you pass by the alluring aromas of the holiday pastry stores that are so strategically placed around every corner to allure their victims.”

Justin Gelband, co-founder, modelFIT

“My holiday advice is to approach with caution and understand that indulging in the foods you don’t normally eat can cause rapid increase in cholesterol, weight gain, laziness, and sleep deprivation because you are overloaded on sugar/salt/fat. Try using the modelFIT “M factor”: Moderation, motivation, and movement.

“Everything in moderation: Take a small portion of all the things you like and spread these out amongst meals and/or days. Motivate yourself to stay disciplined and eat what you like in moderation but back that up by rewarding yourself with good foods, staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and by participating in some sort of exercise program to keep your metabolism moving. Twenty to 30 minutes of moving a day keeps the heart rate going, metabolism running at a consistent pace, and blood flowing. Holiday season is the time to enjoy and partake in the festivities by eating things you enjoy and or having a drink or two, but this doesn’t mean go hard and play hard—it means go easy and enjoy but give love back to your body by eating well the other days and doing exercise to keep the weight off and digestive system moving properly.”

Jay Glazer, founder of Unbreakable Performance Center 

“There is no need to lengthen your winter runs this season just to fight holiday weight gain. Stick to a 30-minute run, but every 30 seconds to a minute change your pace. The intervals will jump-start your metabolism, burn fat, and keep your heart rate pumping.Everyone can find 30 minutes to sneak in a workout and it will be a better use of your time then running yourself to fatigue.

“Instead of slow muscle-building sets, switch it up this winter and cluster three exercises together, rotating through three times with no rest. You can switch to a lower weight, but cycle through the three sets three times to keep your heart rate up and you’ll be done in just 25 minutes. It’s the best defence against the inevitable tryptophan haze.”

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