All the ways to keep your metabolism revving over the holidays.
Every year, I make a resolution not to eat as many Christmas cookies as I really want to. I tell myself I’ll workout every day during the holiday break. But the truth is, we always travel to see either my parents, or my husband’s parents during the holidays – which means a bevvy of homemade sweats and treats, and dinners that are larger and heavier than we usually make at home.
This year will of course be different. But we’ll still make the Christmas cookies and let ourselves indulge.
So how can we enjoy the holidays and make sure we keep that notorious holiday weight at bay?
Ultimately, it comes down to self control. I hate to say it, but it’s the cold, hard truth. My personal rule (mentioned in our meatless holiday meal article) is to eat healthy 80% of the time, while allowing for indulgence up to 20% of the time. I’ve learned that by sticking to this general rule, I’m never yo-yo’ing or feeling like I constantly have to “diet,” as many Americans do. I keep myself in check by eating well most of the time, but I never feel deprived, because giving myself 20% for the “maybe I shouldn’ts” is enough for me. Everything in moderation.
Sadly, the older I get, I’ve noticed my metabolism start to shift down, and I have to find new ways to power it back up. This involves more regular workouts – not less. It’s just a hard fact of life. So instead of getting by with 3 workouts per week, as I could in my younger days if I felt like it, I find that I need more. As in, it would be best for my body and mind if I worked out every single day. Never going to happen, but I have to get active as much as I possibly can.
So here’s my personal routine for keeping up my metabolism over the holidays. I’ve been working at building a strong and healthy body through food and fitness since I was 18. And while I’m not a medical professional, everything I’m sharing is something you can easily look up via a simple online search and find that it’s rooted in fact.
First off, I make sure that 80% of my meals are filled with really healthy, mostly plant-based foods.
Plant-based foods have fiber and so many nutrients, that it doesn’t make any sense not to make this the basis of your diet! I eat half an avocado almost every day of my life. I live for sweet potatoes, spinach, baby kale, rainbow carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and mushrooms. Squash is a Fall staple! All of it is fair game to me, and the more the merrier!
Next, I make sure to keep up my protein intake.
Personally, I stick to chicken and fish. Having given up beef and pork years ago, due to my general distaste for them, I can really only stomach chicken and fish these days, as far as animal-based protein goes. But throw in an egg here and there, and I’m a happy girl.
I also add in a lot of plant-based proteins – chick peas, quinoa, brown rice, almonds, cashews, pistachios. And I combine them to make complete proteins – because plant-based proteins typically don’t on their own provide all 9 essential amino acids that animal proteins do – and that is the key to building up your own muscle!
One great way to increase your plant-based protein intake is to incorporate a plant-based protein supplement. I love the ones from Tone It Up. Have you ever seen these girls? I started following them years ago when they had a show on Bravo – and they’ve built an incredible fitness empire, which includes their line of supplements, easily purchased at Target and Amazon.
The key for me is variety. I can’t eat the same thing day after day – that doesn’t work for me. Being able to eat a ton of different things is exciting. I like finding new ways to prepare all my veggies and proteins, so that I’m never bored.
The one thing I try to stay away from as much as possible is white flour. This includes white bread, pasta, pizza, and tortillas. Remember, though. I didn’t say I never eat these things. I just put them in my 20% category and save them for maybe a weekend splurge with the kids.
The Workout Plan
Again, variety is the spice of life! At least when it comes to maintaining my fitness!
I incorporate HIIT workouts twice per week. Did you know that HIIT workouts help your body burn more calories even after you’re done working out? I love programs like Tone it UP and VShred. They really help me keep up my muscle tone and burn fat around my middle, which is where it seems to creep up these days. And they give my metabolism a boost when I feel I’m hitting a fitness plateau.
On days when I’m not doing HIIT cardio, you’ll find me on the treadmill or the recumbent bike for about 30 minutes. I like cardio that’s easy on my joints. No running for me – just a brisk walk. Ever since I had kids, I’ve had crazy hip pain and knee pain, so these two activities allow me to get my heart rate up while still being easy on my joints. I still need to be able to wear my 4-inch heels, people!
For resistance, I lift heavier weights twice per week, and lighter weights with higher reps two to three times per week. I’m a small person, at 5’1” – so when I lift heavier, I do actually look bulkier. But I know there are so many benefits to having that muscle mass. So I just mix up my routines, and that makes me feel my best. Plus, having lean muscle mass helps your body continually burn calories, even when you’re resting.
So that’s it in a nutshell. Keeping that holiday weight at bay really comes down to self-control. It’s the monster in your head that’ll get you every time. Don’t give in every time she wants a cookie. But give her one here and there to satiate her – and make up for it with a healthy dose of veggies, protein, cardio, and weights. Happy holiday eating, everyone!