The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is full swing, meaning hectic schedules, last-minute plans, and yes, the perfect excuse to skip the gym. Trust us — we've been there, too. Before you make your workout a resolution to conquer in January, there are ways you can save time and maximize the burn in between those holiday parties and seasonal sales. With these 10 tips and tricks, the biggest gift you might give yourself this season is the gym . . . not the cookie.
The other day I popped into Trader Joe's for the usual essentials, and I immediately zeroed in on a new product — prewashed, precut kale in a bag — heavenly!
I'm not a big pre-packaged kind of girl, but Trader Joe's always offers a variety of bagged lettuces, and veggies, sliced, diced, washed, and ready for eating. What's great about kale is you can do so much with it and it is full of powerful immune-boosting antioxidants. What I do now is take the entire bag of kale and make delicious baked kale chips. Buying washed and already cut vegetables is a great way to cut your cooking and prep time in half. Even if you can't find the kinds of vegetables you want already bagged and ready to go (or maybe the bagged versions aren't fresh where you live), set aside 20 minutes, once or twice a week to wash, cut, peel, and store a variety of veggies. The next time you need a snack, you can grab some cut up peppers over a handful of cookies!
Another helpful time-saving tip is to stock up on canned legumes like chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils and different bean-based soups. Beans come packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, foliate, and fiber; they fill you up quickly; require little preparation to use; and you can instantly add them to various recipes to make a dish more hearty. Here are some filling bean recipes to get you started.
Make the most out of the little time that you can devote to working out with these easy tips. These tips will not only help you burn more calories the next time you sweat it out, but you can also expect to tone your muscles more efficiently.
Even though I have taken a few yoga classes here and there, I've never decided if the practice is for me. So when a friend suggested a beginning series at my favorite yoga studio, I jumped at the chance.
A basics class is important in any learned skill, and yoga is no different. During our first class we learned basic standing poses like Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 and Triangle Pose, which our teacher said were the basis of many more poses to come. It was nice to only focus on a few poses and repeat them many times, unlike in a general class, where poses flow into one another at a quicker pace.
Every week the class focuses on another fundamental of yoga, so I'm excited to see how my understanding of the practice progresses. Even after just one class, I've already been reminded of why the practice is more than just for fitness. Read on for three lessons I learned from my first back-to-basics yoga class.
Even though it may be hard to stick to a normal fitness routine when traveling this holiday, you don't have to give up on all your fitness goals. If you find yourself away from home (your gym, running path, or yoga studio) over the next few weeks, use these helpful tips to ensure you'll be active well into the new year.
Pack your gym bag. Pack workout clothing in your suitcase, and you'll have no excuse not to exercise. Traveling with workout clothing also acts as a visual reminder to stay fit, which can motivate you to exercise even when away from home.
Carry a workout on you. Depending on where you're staying, it may be hard to find a gym, and depending on the weather, exercising outdoors may not be an option — always bring a workout that you can do indoors. Good options that are easy to pack are a jump rope, fitness DVDs, or one of our printable home circuit workouts — I always pack resistance bands. If you forget, hit up the local library or video store and borrow a fitness DVD instead.
I have couple more suggestions, so keep reading.
Are you a hup, two kind of gal? Ladies who like to take their exercise to the extreme levels often enjoy a round of boot camp every now and then — or even every day. Then there are others who would like to participate in such a class but don't have the time or confidence for such endeavors. If you'd like to get out there and give it a test run before committing to such a dutiful ritual, you can set up your own version of boot camp to gear yourself up for the real deal.
My brother-in-law, a half Ironman triathlete, marathon runner, athlete to boot, also participates in a boot camp where he leads the group in their sunrise ritual. Here are a few exercises and pointers he likes to employ among his "troops."
- Start in a kneeling position on the ground and jump up to your feet. Then, jump in the air and bring your knees to your chest. Do this 10 times.
- Time for sprints! Do one 100-meter sprint followed up by one 200-meter sprint and then one 400-meter sprint. This is easiest if done on a track as it's already measured out for you.
- You'll need a partner for this exercise: One person does 50 full sit-ups (not crunches) while the other plants her hands on the feet and steadies herself in a plank position. Switch positions and repeat.
- Do 50 push-ups. If you must, do them on your knees and try not to take rest breaks.
- Finally, gear up by marching high knees for 30 seconds. Back it up with butt kicks on the way back.
Do this whole routine three times with water breaks in between.
To see his bits of advice, just read more
Kate Hudson has a little help when it comes to looking so fab: trainer Nicole Stuart. Nicole is sort of a Jill of all trades; she studied Pilates under Mari Winsor, is a trained dancer, and has spent the last 12 years working with a roster of celebrity clients like Kate. With the holidays coming up, I asked Nicole what fitness tips FitSugar readers should keep in mind to balance all those extra goodies, cocktail parties, and holiday travel. Here's what Nicole has to say:
- Stay active and creative. Do something every day, even if it's only a walk around the block.
- Eat healthy and make smart food choices. No white flour, sugar, fried or processed food. No sodas! Lots of roughage, water, and protein!
- Get your heart rate up. Do 30 minutes of heart pounding activity at least four days a week.
- Keep a positive mind and attitude. You create what you think. If you think, "I'm fat," you will believe that and eat unhealthy foods. Be happy in your body and mind. Give thanks for being able to walk around the block and do the things some people cannot.
- Ask how your body is feeling. If you’re too tired or in pain, don't run — walk. Really listen to how you’re feeling, and follow that.
One of my favorite parts of writing FitSugar is the comments. They are not only entertaining and insightful, but full of important tips. Here are a couple of fitness tips from other readers for you to add to your mental fit list.
For the treadmill:
LilCROAT03 firmly believes, and I agree, that running on a treadmill shortens your stride since you're running in a confined space. This puts strain on your hips as they "go into overdrive trying to shorten your movements which can really damage your hips." It is for this reason that she reminds us all to stretch our adductors (inner thighs) and glutes (booty) after a treadmill run.
For the rowing machine:
User lcterp warns to keep the damper on the rowing machine set to 4 or 5, the level that is closest to actual water resistance, and that setting it higher can set you up for injury.