harley pasternak's holiday survival guide

Full heart, full house, full stomach…the holidays are all about being filled to the brim! And while togetherness and treats are what the holidays are all about, for most of us this season of plenty can put a wrench in our otherwise fit-minded intentions. So many cookies, so little time!

Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak knows exactly what we’re talking about, and has helped the likes of Halle Berry, Lady Gaga and Robert Downey Jr. brave their way through even the trickiest of health roadblocks. Lucky for us, Harley has outlined the most commonly encountered holiday conundrums, followed by the easiest tips ever to dodge those pesky seasonal saboteurs! Stay sane and svelte during the most wonderful time of the year, whether you’re the host, guest or just along for the (sleigh) ride…

Harley Pasternak’s Holiday Survival Guide

Staying with friends-minimal floor space, no fitness DVDs:

Take it outside! If it’s the dead of winter, dress warm and take a walk, rake leaves, or shovel the driveway if you’re in a snowy region. This is my favorite time of year to get out and get moving. If you’re inside, you’re in luck: most of the greatest exercises require little to no space. whether it be a skater lunge, stiff leg deadlight, shounder press, bicep curl, all these things don’t require you to move from a 6 sq foot area. Bring some resistance bands with you or simply use your own body weight. You can even grab others and make it a social activity. This is the time to be with loved ones, so cut yourself a little slack. Remind yourself that it’s the holidays, you can work out tomorrow. But be active today. Most importantly, use this period of time to stick to your eating program. If you are moving less, be sure there is the least margin of error possible with your diet.

30-minute break from work and holiday errands to run:

Multitask and go shopping! Grab your pedometer and hit as many stores as you can. Try going onine to see what they have, and paying ahead of time so that you can run in, grab your presents, and dash off to the next store. The point is to keep moving. You might be surprised how many steps you can fit in – up to 4,000!

Admiring the scenery at a local park:

First of all, walk. I know it’s a boring message but I can’t stress enough that the fittest, healthiest, longest living people walk all the time. If you’re wanting to do a bit more than stroll, there is no reason you cannot exercise on a bed of leaves or grass (they double as an excellet mat)! To fit in some resistance or body-weight exercises, bring a couple handweights along or look for a park bench to aid in exercises like step ups, push ups, or tap squats. (editor’s note: check out our guide to working out in the park for a little inspiration!) 

Holiday snack attack:

First ask yourself why you are wanting a snack.  People often mistake dehydration for hunger, so make sure you keep drinking water throughout the day as not to mistake one for the other. Studies have shown that people who drink flavored water drink more water daily, so squeeze a lemon or lime wedge into your glass for a treat. If you are truly hungry, opt for well-rounded snacks with a little bit of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat. Greek yogurt with berries is a great option. If you are entertaining and in charge of snacktime, air popped popcorn or a homemade bean dip with veggies will keep everyone happy and healthy.

The big feast-how to lighten things up and boost the nutrition:

If you are the one in charge of cooking the big feast for Christmas or New Years Eve, make sure you start off with a lean protein. Start your meal with a nice green salad and take it easy on the dressing. A dash of olive oil, lemon, and a pinch of sea salt usually work wonders. Load up on the veggies, too: we are in the midst of squash season, so take advantage of it! Butternut squash, acorn squash, or even spaghetti squash with a homemade tomato or pesto sauce is a delicious side for the holidays. Replace your white rice or pasta dish with something like quinoa, millet or rye – these are all extremely delicious grains, and are so much more interesting than the same old options.

Hitting those side dishes hard:

Load up on salad. If you can, find a salad that doesn’t have a dressing on it. Packing in greens and roughage right at the beginning sets you up for success. You can even ask the host beforehand if you can have your portion without dressing, and he or she will most likely have no problem helping you out. See if there is a clear broth soup to fill you up and reduce your appetite. Watch out for sauces, which can often contain health saboteurs without you even knowing. Lean proteins like lean turkey, ham, or lean cuts of brisket can help fill you up before you even encounter the sugar and fat laden side dishes and desserts in store.

The day after a heavy holiday meal:

Go back to  eating like you do the other days of your life, making sure that every single meal and snack has protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and a healthy fat component. This is not the time to embark on a starvation diet or get extreme. Drink plenty of water, and don’t view this as falling off the wagon in the least.

Planning to make good use of leftovers, how to keep it healthy:

Leftovers make for fantastic next day meals! Add the raw vegetables you didn’t use for the salad and throw them in a green smoothie, eat an open-faced turkey sandwich, or use the leftover whole grains to complete a hearty soup. Be constructive and creative to utilize the lean proteins and fibrous veggies and grains for next-day use. Keep in mind that one day of overeating (or unhealthy eating) will not pack on the pounds – but an entire week will. People usually do not gain weight over the holidays due to Christmas dinner, they gain because of the leftovers they are eating throughout the week. 

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