Post-Holiday Fitness Tips

Tuesday, January 06, 2009 | Tips & How-Tos, Uncategorized

The damage has been done (and yes, it was worth every savory second). However, now that the “season of splurge” is behind us, it’s time to get serious about shaping up. Read on for tips and tricks to get back that pre-holiday bod and then some.

Set a Goal
Wishing those holiday pounds away won’t get you swimsuit-ready come Memorial Day. What you need is a plan of action! Make your goal as specific as possible. “I want to lose four pounds a month” not only sounds better than “I want to lose weight,” it establishes a tangible yardstick for success and prepares your mind for action.

Remember to keep your goal realistic. Shedding one pound (of fat) requires burning 3,500 calories (the equivalent of walking 30 miles). A medium-sized adult burning 300 calories three times a week, therefore, could shed roughly a pound a month. By cutting caloric intake (dieting) by 300 calories, that same person could shed two pounds per month.

Establish a Routine
Determine the best time—and the amount of time–you’re willing to commit to getting fit. While it’s important to establish a workout routine, there’s no need to set it in stone. Be flexible. If a meeting keeps you from hitting the gym at lunch, go after work. If your Saturday afternoons are booked, make a point to exercise in the morning.

To effectively lose weight, aim for a minimum of 200 minutes of medium intensity exercise a week. (You can shrink this number by cutting your caloric intake.) Beginners may want to start at 60 minutes a week and work their way up. Remember, a routine is only good if you stick to it.

Get Fit
The fast-track to post-holiday weight loss is cardiovascular exercise (running, cycling, jumping rope, etc.). The beauty of cardio is that it can be done just about anywhere—outdoors, at the gym; even in front of the TV. To burn calories in less time, exercise in intervals. That is, alternate between bouts of high-intensity activity (running as fast as you can for 30 seconds, for example) and low-intensity recovery (jogging for one-and-a-half to three minutes). Always allow time to stretch before and cool down after your workout.

While cardio is your best bet for slimming down, strength training (lunges, push-ups, lifting weights, etc.) is the key to toning up. If focusing on individual muscle groups, alternate between groups to allow muscles to recover. You can also perform multi-group exercises that work out a variety of muscles all at once. If combining cardio with strength training, give strength training first billing or alternate days of each.