7 Tips to Stay Fit Over the Holidays

Hey everyone, my name is Matt Vande Vegte. I am a type 1 diabetic, certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and the owner of FTFWarrior, an online diabetic health coaching company. This month I want to talk to you about how NOT to have fitness fallout this holiday season. Or, at the very least, I’ll help you stay on track with whatever fitness goals you currently have with these 7 easy to follow, simple tips on how to stay fit during the holidays.

Tip # 1: Indulge for a night, not a season.

WHAT? A personal trainer is telling you to indulge?! Yup, you heard me right. Indulge, but don’t go crazy. Let yourself enjoy something new but remember that moderation is key. Just because it’s sweater season and nobody can see that you stopped working out a month ago (it happens to the best of us), it doesn’t mean that your body can’t tell. Treat yourself every once in awhile, but remember to take care of yourself too. Maintaining healthy habits long term will make a world of a difference to your insides as well as simplify diabetes management.

Tip Numero Dos (that’s “number 2” in Spanish…hopefully you already knew that though):  Keep moving.

Simple enough, right? It’s an easy one to forget though. All it takes is a few days off and even the thought of exercise seemingly slips away from all conscious thought. It happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to happen to you. Try sticking to a fitness regimen of some sort, even if that means going for a 30 minute walk every morning. Whether you are a well-conditioned athlete or someone who would rather spend the day watching Netflix (that was me yesterday), everyone benefits from staying active at some level.

Tip Trois (French? Are you serious?):  Get creative.

See what I did there, switching it up with French? Creative, right? Never mind, let’s dive into how we get creative with fitness. What makes fitness fun for you? It’s ok if you don’t like the gym.  It’s ok if you don’t like running. What is important is the movement. (Did you already forget tip numero dos??). Find an activity you enjoy that gets you burning some calories. This might look like going for a hike, playing volleyball, chasing the kids down the street, or even playing some Wii dance. The more you enjoy the activity, the more likely you are to actually stay consistent!

4th Tip: “Four” get the all or nothing mindset.

Forget about it! No, seriously. The all or nothing mindset wrecks fitness goals. It is a mindset that claims if you miss one workout, then it’s all over and you might as well quit. This mindset leads to stressing about making it to the gym everyday and leads to an unhealthy relationship with fitness! Fitness is something that was meant to be enjoyed and not obsessed over. If you miss a day because life got hectic, don’t stress! Just make it a priority to go the next day and pick up where you left off.

Tip Number Five: Stay hydrated!

Drinking enough water every day is so often overlooked and forgotten, but let’s take a peek at why it’s so good for us. Consuming enough water has a filling effect and reduces your appetite! It helps with muscle recovery after workouts and it prevents dehydration (duh). Fun fact – when you are dehydrated, your body pulls water out of your muscles and shoves it into your fat cells to conserve it, making you look and feel bloated! And if that isn’t enough motivation to drink more water, I’ll add that it is also a natural way to make those holiday hangovers a little less painful and a lot less lengthy. Drink more water…you literally need it to live.

Advanced Tips:

Tip # 6: Meal timing

Find yourself craving an all fruit smoothie, Gatorade, or other simple carbohydrates (fast acting sugars lacking in fiber)? Indulge! But make sure that you time it correctly so that your muscles are in a recovery window (within 30 minutes of working out) and can optimize those simple sugars instead of turning them into fat. After a heavy workout, your muscles are beaten, broken, and scarred. You’ve successfully ripped apart the muscle tissue and your muscles are hungry. No, seriously; working out is literally you breaking apart your muscles on a micro level. Then over the next 24-48 hours your body builds them back up stronger than ever… provided that you fed them with the proper nutrients. Simple sugars that lack fat and fiber are going to be absorbed more quickly and go right to work in replenishing muscle tissue glycogen stores! So go for that all fruit smoothie. Enjoy that sugary Gatorade.Then repair your body even further with proper protein, branched chain amino acids, and a full balanced meal because you (and your muscles) deserve it. (Beware of the blood sugar spikes and drops of course, it may take a few tries to properly dose medication to avoid this).

*Special Bonus: exercises like resistance training have the added benefit of creating an environment for more stable blood glucose levels (and an increase in insulin sensitivity) for up to 48 hours (provided that we stay consistent of course).

Tip # 7: Use the empty gym!

Surrounding the holidays (as long as it is BEFORE New Years) you’ll find that the gym is a bit more empty than usual. Use this to your advantage! One thing that is difficult to do in a crowded gym is circuit training. When the gym is empty, you are more likely to be able to put yourself through a full circuit with as many exercises as you like! I’ll give you an example of one that melts the calories:

In the gym:

For each exercise, load up whatever weight you can do 15-20 repetitions with. It should be difficult, but not so difficult that you give up your good form and technique. Move between exercises with little to no break in between; that’s what we call a circuit.

Special Note: Circuit training typically involves high intensity movements, a variation of resistance training to target muscle breakdown (and consequently muscle growth upon recovery), as well as elevated heart rate which will burn fat and increase cardiovascular endurance. It is especially effective as a challenging workout, but can cause injury if you are not used to these high energy movements or have not appropriately warmed up.

Warm up and stretch before any workout!

  • Squats: 20 reps
  • Chest Press/Bench Press: 20 reps
  • Lunges (with dumbells in your hands): 20 reps
  • Seated Cable Row/Bent over barbell row: 20 reps
  • Low Plank: 30 seconds

*Repeat 4 times*

At home version:

Since we do not usually have access to weights at home, we will be doing this AMRAP style (As Many Reps As Possible).

  • Body weight squats: 1 minute
  • Push ups/modified push ups: 1 minute
  • Lunges: 1 Minute
  • Superman: 1 minute (lie on stomach, lift arms and legs off of the ground.. like superman, HOLD):
  • Low plank: 1 minute

*Repeat 4 times*

You can do this!  Let me know if I can help.

Keep up the Fight,

Matt Vande Vegte, CPT

Leave a Reply