Healthy Holidays: Incorporating Fitness So You Can Fit-in-This

by Jan 27, 2016Brunswick County Life, North Brunswick

The holidays are here, and the smell of sugar is wafting from homes throughout Brunswick County. Classic favorites like pumpkin pies and reindeer cookies are delivered daily as sweet sentiments. Party hosts impress their guests with Pinterest-inspired creations like gingerbread eggnog trifles and white chocolate cranberry crème brûlée. There’s really no way around it. You’re going to cave to the confections. At least once.

Instead of torturing yourself by nibbling carrot sticks while everyone else wipes icing off their chins, we say claim that caramel cream cake. Just do it in moderation. You know what Shakira says: Your hips don’t lie so only eat one piece of pie. Or something to that effect.

In non-pop culture circles, we look to Brian Barkman of 4ever24fit for advice.

“You really can have fun and enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds,” explains Barkman, the lead trainer at Leland’s 4ever24fit.

Barkman agrees that a few slurps of that luscious limited-time Chick-fil-A peppermint chocolate chip milkshake or doing the obligatory eating of Santa’s cookies isn’t going to ruin your figure, as long as you stay active.

“It’s really as simple as staying off the couch and making smart choices,” says Barkman.

To keep his clients slim and trim, he offers practical and common sense tips.

Tip # 1. Sneak in mini workouts. Picture this: You’re cuddled in your Snuggie watching Ralphie almost shoot his eye out for the 300th time. They cut to commercial. Instead of keeping the couch warm, take advantage of the three-minute break by doing a simple workout like wall squats, basic planks and mountain climbers. Repeat for each break in order to get a decent workout and burn a lot of calories without the risk of missing the classic Ralphie in a bunny suit scene.

Tip # 2. Always eat breakfast. We’re talking Greek yogurt with cranberry granola, not last night’s cheesecake. A healthy breakfast is a great way to jumpstart your metabolism, avoid cravings and enhance focus.

Tip # 3. Don’t eat late at night. Ninety minutes before bedtime is the rule of thumb. Metabolism slows down when the body is at rest, so the calories that you put in your body at night will be stored rather than burned. Remember the saying: A moment (of pie) on your lips (at night), forever on your hips.

Tip # 4. Be wise with your workouts. First, always warm up and stretch before exercising, as it’s tough to get a good workout in if you’re injured. Second, cardio interval training – a technique that involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity activities and moments of rest – is a great way to stay engaged and maximize fat burning. And, finally, don’t forget to switch up your exercise routine to ensure great results. According to Barkman, shocking your body keeps your muscles guessing. For example, with strength training, alternate between a routine of high reps and low weight to burn calories and a routine of low reps and high weight to build muscle and strength.

Abiding by these simple rules will help you keep the buffet temptations at bay and the happy in your holiday.

Exercise # 1

BURPEES great, full-body workout with high intensity

1. Drop to a lower squat position.

2. Kick legs out and extend your arms and do a push-up

3. Tuck your legs as you come up from the push-up and get into a lower squat position

4. From the squat position, jump as high as you can and throw your hands up

5. Come down into a lower squat position

Here are three of Barkman’s favorite exercises. Try these between showings of Miracle on
34th Street or as an excuse to break from the 16th round of charades with the in-laws.

Exercise # 2

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS great for cardio and core-strength

1. Begin in a push-up position

2. Bring right knee up toward your chest with the left leg staying on the floor

3. Switch feet back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds

4. Try to keep your lead leg off of the floor to make it a more challenging exercise

Exercise # 3

PLANK for building endurance and core strength

1. Lie face down resting on forearms, palms flat on floor

2. Rise up onto your toes while resting on your elbows

3. Keep your back flat in a straight line, from head to heels

4. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds and repeat

Seek the advice of a medical professional to make sure you are clear to perform any of the above exercises.

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