As the Holidays approach the stress levels go up and the health of most people goes down. It's easy to get sidetracked and put off your fitness and nutrition until next year. But this is the year of health (I just declared that) and I do not want you to lose any fitness progress that you have made this year. So, as a gift here are the FRF top 12 fit tips to help you manage the holidays.
#1 .Don’t give up on your fitness. It is easy to just give up and wait until the new year to work on your health and fitness. One thing to remember is that fitness is good for your body and mind. Working out can help manage your waistline and help you mentally get more out of the holiday. And, let's face it this has been a really stressful year and fitness can really help. Your workouts don’t have to be hours long, try to work out 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes. If you need a program and some workout ideas, FRF has you covered. You can get the FRF CATALYST program for FREE, just click here.
#2. Only eat until you are 80% full.-- Use this trick to help you manage your nutrition and lose fat (especially during the holidays). The brain is always behind the stomach in signaling that we are full. Hunger and satiety cues are based on the release of hormones within our bodies. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the body to signal the brain that you are full. If you are eating too quickly while watching TV or distracted, then you won’t even sense these subtle changes going on internally. Then, you go back for a second (or third) helping because you still feel hungry. A couple of minutes later you discover you are too stuffed! This is a common occurrence in most firehouses.
Eat too fast and miss the "stop" sign our body sends us and consume too much food and over-tax our digestive systems. We have all experienced that feeling at one time or another (some more than others).
So, slow down eating, chew your food, limit distractions like TV and get in touch with how you feel while enjoying your food. Try to take at least 15 to 20 minutes to eat your first helpings, then re-evaluate if you are still hungry.
#3. Fix aching muscles with foam rolling and/or a therapeutic massage gun. Cold weather, long shifts, and the stress of the season can lead to aching muscles. One of the best ways to relieve tension in your muscles is to hop on a foam roller for 5-10 minutes. Foam rollers are not only a great gift idea (click here for a great option) they will help you maintain mobility and reduce stress. Another great option for sore muscles and are growing in popularity are the muscle massage compression guns, click here for some great recommendations on particular guns.
These electric massage guns help relieve muscle stiffness and soreness by sending pulses of pressure that penetrate deep into muscle tissue. They help promote muscle repair, improve blood flow, and alleviate joint pain. The percussion massager can also be used to warm up before exercise. There are a lot of options on the market and make a really good gift (click here for a great massage gun option).
4. Have a go-to healthy dish that you can prepare. Schedules and stress seem to get a little more challenging during the holidays. Always try to have some healthy meal options prepared in case of emergency. Emergency means you need a dish to pass or you were shopping all day and are starving. I try to have some healthy chili on hand (in Tupperware) or the slow cooker. Instead of grabbing that tempting fast food or cookie, I know I can pass on it because I have a healthy alternative ready to eat. Here is my chili recipe. I usually make enough for 15 people and store what we don’t eat for later.
5. Take 10 minutes to recharge. The holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy and happiness! Please remember that. To help you (and me) stay grounded and manage stress, take a couple of minutes each day to take a breath and focus on the positives. I like to follow this quick and easy yoga routine to help manage the stress of the season (or shift). Click here for a great 10-minute YOGA routine for first responders (and non-first responders).
6. Have a quick "go-to" workout. Time or lack of it is the number one excuse we use to skip a workout. The Holidays are no exception. We all have a lot of things to do during the season and often they take priority (see tip #1). So, to ensure your fitness progress make sure you have a quick, efficient, and effective go-to workout. Here is one I use when time is tight. This will help you burn some of those excess calories also. Give it a try. Click here for a great workout for first responders (no equipment needed).
7. Stay hydrated... with water. Hydration is critical for optimal performance and stress management. The link between water and stress reduction is well documented. All of our organs, including our brains, need water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t running well -- and that can lead to stress. Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone. So, staying properly hydrated can keep you performing, thinking, and managing stress better. If you are partaking in a libation or two, make sure you have some water to combat the dehydration alcohol can have.
8. Boost your immunity with good nutrition. -- The stress of the season and smaller (due to covid) gatherings bring joy and germs. This is the time of the year that the cold and flu also run rampant. So, make sure your immune system is functioning on all cylinders by eating your fruits and veggies! And Protein too… Though it doesn’t boil down to just one or two foods, the nutrients and other compounds found in your daily diet have an impact on how weak or strong your immunity is. Vitamin C in foods like strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, and citrus, helps immune system cells function efficiently. Vitamin A helps keep tissues in the mouth, intestines, and respiratory tract healthy and is found in sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, and cantaloupe. Remember that eating the actual fruit or veggie is better than popping single-vitamin supplements since it is likely that all the components in the food interact to offer protection. And, make sure you get plenty of protein. Eating too little protein can weaken your immune system. Protein-rich foods supply the amino acids you need to build essential proteins in the body, including antibodies. Animal foods like beef and pork also contain zinc, a mineral that your body uses to make t-cells. Click here for the best foods for boosting immunity.
9. Do Not Let a pulled hamstring ruin your Holiday, stay limber and mobile with these 4-minute routines. Let us face it, we all skip stretching. How many times have you finished a workout or tried to touch your toes and thought I need to stretch? Yet, like most, you probably skipped it. In all honesty, I used to also. Until I came up with these quick 4-minute routines. It is a quick and easy way to add some stretching into your day. Click here for a great example.
10. Just because it is there does not mean you have to eat it! Words to live by during the Holidays.
11. Be Grateful. It sounds easy but when you get stressed and things may not be going your way, your outlook and even your body chemistry can change. One way to reverse the “Debbie Downer” feeling is to pause and think about tow or three things you are grateful for. It works! And it is backed by science. Positive psychology and mental health researchers in the past few decades have established an overwhelming connection between gratitude and good health. Keeping a gratitude journal causes less stress, improves the quality of sleep, and builds emotional awareness (Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson, 2005). Gratitude is positively correlated to more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm to work harder.
12. Your Health and Fitness are not just about YOU…. As a first responder, firefighter, EMT, medic, soldier, nurse, and/or parent your healthy impacts the lives of those around you. Your crew, your family, and your community count on you to help in their time of need. ARE YOU READY? Stay tuned, FRF is launching the FRF40, a new challenge for first responders.
Make a commitment to your family, your crew, and your community to be the best version of yourself in 2022. It starts with working on improving your fitness and your health.
Enjoy the Holidays, Be Grateful, Be Present and Be Kind. And be ready to GET FRF in 2022.