Wondering how you can make it through the holidays with your health and wellness goals intact? Next in our #TrainerTellsAll series is Nick Casteel, a personal trainer at Elmwood Fitness Center, a 175,000-square-foot health club with four locations in New Orleans. Nick shares his healthy lifestyle wellness tips for surviving the holidays.
After all, the holidays are a time for family, friends and of course food. Coupled with cooler weather, less sunshine and the desire to lounge in bed rather than hit the gym, the winter months can be a major speed bump on the road to staying healthy.
Exercise Fuels Your Metabolism And Boosts Your Immune System
“While many people like to exercise outside during the summer months, there are many indoor options to consider during winter,” says Nick, who recommends the elliptical or cross trainer, running on the treadmill or body weight training to provide the full-body workout needed to maintain metabolism. “If you’re not a fan of the treadmill, speed up the pace on traditional activities like squats or push-ups to incorporate the necessary cardio aspect of the workout,” he adds.
Exercise will help you stay in shape, of course, but there are countless other benefits to staying active, especially when the weather is cold and people are more prone to getting sick. “Exercise and eating well will boost your immune system to help fight off illnesses that can be more prevalent due to time spent indoors with other people and viruses,” explains Nick. “Another little known means of removing harmful toxins and impurities from your body is taking a steam bath following your workout.”
Nick also recommends steam to soothe aching muscles, especially for those clients who are new to the gym or haven’t worked out in a while. “When you’re just starting out, you could get so sore you might not even want to go back to the gym. Getting in the steam room alleviates a lot of the soreness, relaxes your muscles and increases your metabolism, allowing you to lose weight more quickly.”
Another benefit he points to is that by regularly using your steam shower or sauna daily for 20 minutes, you will get the same metabolic effect as if you had gone on a short walk. That's a real benefit when temperatures outside are below zero!
Stick To Your Diet Before And After The Holiday
Staying healthy during the holiday season isn’t just about exercise; it’s about smart eating too. It’s easy to get carried away during holiday events with family and friends. Nick recommends making sure your diet is intact before and after your day of indulgence.
“Some people do better with portion control, but it’s tough not to overdo it when you’re around family for the holidays. I always do my best to stick to my diet on the days leading up to and following a party or get together .”
Slow and Steady Activity Creates Healthy Lifestyle Habits
When New Year’s Eve rolls around, it’s helpful to make realistic health and wellness goals for the coming year. For example, instead of promising to lose 100 pounds by summer – and being disappointed when that doesn’t happen – set smaller, more achievable goals that will motivate additional action.
“Being active two to three times a week is a good goal. Even if you only work out for 15 minutes or half an hour, you’re still being active and will see a difference,” says Nick. “Once you skip one or two days of activity, it has a tendency to snowball and may lead you to stop being active completely.”
In the end, Nick counsels his clients that slow and steady wins the day. “Creating the habit, especially during the winter months, is important. Don’t worry about if it was a bad workout or a great workout – before you know it, being active and staying healthy will come naturally.”