Fitness Advice for the Holidays: Stay the Course

With the high (calorie) holidays upon us, my advice to clients is “stay the course.” This is not the time of year to start a new diet, change gyms, or alter your workout schedule. It’s a set-up for failure. Stay as close to your current routine as possible. Holiday parties and family visits provide so many temptations to overeat, over drink, and skip the gym, that most of us will do well to skid into January without gaining weight. A two pound holiday gain is the average for most Americans. Don’t do it.

Here are a couple of tips to help you navigate turkey day:

1. Think of Thanksgiving as just another Thursday, and don’t use the holiday as an excuse to strap on a feedbag and eat like a horse. Attend your family gatherings but in addition to showing up with a side dish, show up with a plan. Don’t arrive on the verge of starvation and be careful you’re not on appetite auto-pilot. Give some advance thought as to what you will eat and how much you’ll eat. Think about the foods you want to avoid. It’s okay to eat less than your fill. Push away from the table.

2. Use a salad plate, not a dinner plate. If you plan to load up, at least load up a smaller plate. Portion control is everything... especially if you’re one to clean your plate. It’s okay to be hungry and its okay to stop eating before you feel full.

3. Sample. Don’t supersize. You don’t want to feel deprived of tempting foods but you know you shouldn’t eat them. Try having just a taste... say half a teaspoon... of those fattening casseroles or sugary pies. That way you get to try everything without over indulging.

4. Go for a walk. Instead of collapsing on the couch in front of the TV with a beer, have a cup of coffee and take a 20 minute walk. Invite a well fed relative and tell ‘em how great it was the Democrats took back the House.

And to help keep your workouts on track, try these three killer ab moves!

1. Cable Rope Crunch: Place a rope attachment on the cable and kneel below the cable. Hold onto the rope attachment and pull the rope directly in front of you. Curl towards your knees and contract your abs while you pull down. Slowly return to your starting position. Perform 2 sets of 20 reps.

Cable Rope Crunch

2. Roman Chair Leg Lifts: Situate yourself in the Roman chair with your back and forearms braced against the pads. Raise your knees to a right angle. Exhale while you raise your legs and inhale as you lower them to the starting position. Perform 2 sets of 25 reps.

Roman Chair Leg Lifts

3. Decline Crunch with Medicine Ball: Lie down on a decline bench with a medicine ball or a 10-25 lbs weight. Hold the weight straight up and crunch. Imagine you’re pushing the ball to through the ceiling. Only your shoulders and upper back come of the bench. Perform 2 sets of 30 reps.

Decline Crunch with Medicine Ball

Philip Hitchcock is an independent, Certified Personal Trainer specializing in “Fitness after 40,” Resistance Training and Weight Loss. Check out

Happy Holidays!