Your Guide to a Healthy Holiday

The holiday season is officially here! Unfortunately for many its what you may call a three-month long dieting disaster. But don't let the food, wine, and cold weather keep you away from your workout routine. Our fitness expert, Ken Szekretar, has ten simple tips to help you stay toned and keep you looking good throughout the New Year.

Tip # 1: Tone up on the treadmill

Save time at the gym or even at home, with a ten minute cardio/sculpt session. Hop on a treadmill holding a three to five pound weight in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. It's a great upper body workout and gets your lower body going. Do this two or three times a week. As you improve, work up to four-minute sets.

Tip # 2: Power up your runs

Add wall sits to the end of every run and you will build up and strengthen your quads, hams, and glutes. This will also improve your speed and endurance. Simply, lean against a wall until your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle. Then hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Try doing up to ten sets. Challenge yourself by adding heel raises. Lift your left heel and then your right, and then lift both at once.

Tip # 3: Chart your progress

Continue to motivate yourself by using something to measure your progress by. Write down and describe your flexibility, cardio and weight training workouts. Set goals for each of these and then personally grade them yourself. Do this at least five times a year to see how much progress you have made. You will see improvement and it will inspire you to do better!

Tip # 4: Try an all-in-one toner

For this exercise do a side-step squat with a ball that works your arms, abs, torso, legs, inner thighs and butt. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart holding a three to four pound medicine ball in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the ball towards your left knee, step out with your left leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do ten to 15 reps and repeat on the other leg.

Tip # 5: Break out the snow shovel

If you are lucky enough to have snow, don't pay someone to shovel it for you. Get to work yourself. Shoveling snow not only burns 400 calories per hour, it develops muscular endurance and power.

Tip # 6: Workout while working

Sit on a stability ball while working at your desk. This will strengthen your core. Try and squeeze in shoulder presses and ab crunches. Also, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Even a few flights at a time will add up quick!

Tip # 7: Jump rope

One of the best cardio workouts is jump roping. Do a basic jump for five minutes and then accelerate to a jump that’s twice as high. Next, turn the ropes twice as fast so it passes under your feet two times before you land. This takes timing and patience, but you can burn up to 26 calories per minute.

Tip # 8: Keep in mind that you cannot be perfect

You don't have to be perfect to get results. All you need to do is follow the “80/20 plan.” This is the mentality that you only need to eat well and exercise 80 percent of the time. For the remaining 20, you can go off your diet. So you can splurge on Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Tip # 9: Make over your running routine

Unless you're training for a marathon, skip long, slow distance running. Sprinting builds more muscle, and burns more calories. Add a few ten to 60 second sprints to your run. Slow down just long enough to catch your breath then do it again.

Tip # 10: Don't eliminate carbs

Your body needs carbohydrates for energy, so don’t eliminate them! If you need added energy for a workout, eat some carbs about an hour before. Your best bets are low fat cheese with crackers, trail mix, or a half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

For more tips to stay in shape this holiday season, check our iMag's Fitness Section.

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