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How Do I Accomplish My Fitness Goals Over The Holidays?

Did you know that half of the annual weigh gain in America takes place during the holiday period? Furthermore, a recent study found that most of this weight is retained indefinitely. Rather sobering when you realize that the average American gains 3lbs/year, while losing 1 percent of muscle mass/year after the age of 25. Thinking that through, if your lifestyle is largely sedentary, in 5 years you would have lost 5 percent of your muscle mass, and gained 15 lbs of fat. It's the perfect storm formula for insulin resistance, diabetes, abdominal obesity and a really big behind!

The motivation to BEGIN, continue, and SUCCEED with fitness over the holidays has to come from a strong inner fire. A determination that come January, you are going to look and feel better than you have in months. A realization that, this holiday season, you can enjoy the food, family, and festivities, while kicking butt in the gym. Here are a few tips that will help you succeed.

Sick with simple healthy meals.

Holiday foods are usually highly palatable and trigger reward centers in the brain. When a food tastes good, it's palatable, and usually goes hand in hand with being 'rewarding'. So, you eat more of it. The solution to this is to prepare simple, more 'regular' meals throughout the holidays. These meals should be loaded with vegetables, salads, proteins, healthy fats, herbs, spices, and simple dressings such as olive oil and vinegar. Prepare these types of meals in bulk, and eat a few of them daily.

Exercise daily - but preferably right before dinner or those 'big meal' days.

Continue, or begin, daily exercise. If you are already weight lifting, move your session around so that you can train, the eat that big meal. This takes advantage of something called 'nutrient timing', which allows your body to use all that food to repair muscles and encourage their growth/recovery.

On all other days, get up in the morning, and do your higher-intensity weight training circuit at home or in the gym. Enlist the support of a friend!

Sleep well and manage stress.

Continue to sleep well (aiming for 7-7 uninterrupted hours), and take time to breathe. The holidays can be stressful for many different reasons, so manage this to the best of your abilities. Slow down during several parts of the day and clear your mind.

I wish all of you an awesome holiday season, and look forward to seeing you in the gym and on the beach.

To your success!

Ashleigh Gass
MS, CSCS, Certified Sports Nutritionist
Muscle City Fitness, Clearwater Beach

This article was also published in the 11-21-2012 Issue - Page B3 of the Clearwater Gazette.