When you’re in college, the holiday “season” takes on a new meaning. Relinquished from the ultimate power of higher education, we trek home for an absurd amount of time to eat, drink, and party to our hearts’ content. And when you’re reunited with hometown friends and ready to hit up all your favorite joints, the last thing you want to worry about is gaining weight.
No one wants to christen the New Year bloated or spend Yuletide scrutinizing every last bite of baklava. HC already told you about healthful holiday food swaps, but read on for the best strategies to enjoy all the season has to offer without wasted waist anxiety.
Shop ‘til you drop
Home-cooked food and copious free time equal a recipe for disaster. It’ll feel great to veg out in unimpeded bliss for the first few days, but anymore than that and you’re simply not enjoying the break to its fullest. Get up and get moving! If it’s freezing outside, grab some friends and head to the mall—exercise is a blessed byproduct of shopping.
Run, run Rudolph
You have virtually no school-induced stress or pressure and plenty of time to punch up your exercise routine to compensate for extra delights. A thirty-minute Gaga-infused romp on the elliptical can negate up to 300 calories, equivalent to an indulgent holiday cocktail or slice of apple pie.
Harness the power of visualization
It’s easy to get complacent when we’re layering a t-shirt, sweater, coat, and scarf; but we’ll eventually have to unearth ourselves. Don’t allow spring semester to become a rude, love-handled awakening. Retain your fitness goals by tacking a picture of an outfit you’ve slated for New Years Eve on your bathroom mirror.
Opt for seasonal sweets
Savoring cold-weather favorites is customary this time of year, and we would never advocate avoiding your family’s best-kept culinary secrets. Prioritize and revamp your diet according to what’s most important to you. Instead of reaching for your regulatory scoop of Sweet Cream, save your calories for a limited-time only treat you treasure
Practice portion control
The first few bites of something are always the most satisfying. Nosh a little and then reevaluate; you may find yourself pleasantly satiated for minimum caloric impact. When confronted by a cake or pie, try a sliver instead of a slice.
Pump some iron
We burn more calories with an effective strength training routine than we do with cardio, because our bodies continue to burn calories for longerafter we drop the dumbbells. One weight-lifting session raises our metabolic rate for up to 48 hours, according to Women’s Health. Still not convinced? Just two sessions a week can “reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don't cut a single calorie.” To sculpt sexy curves and bolster your metabolism, commit three weeks to HC’s user-friendly Introduction to Strength Training.
Be a philanthropist
Feelings of loneliness can intensify during the amped-up holiday season, but instead of turning to stuffing for comfort, get active giving back. Spearhead a food drive for a local charity, test your Monopoly skills at a retirement home, or walk shelter dogs; there are ways to feel connected during the holidays regardless of what you’re passionate about. Volunteering wards off emotional eating by boosting your spirits and can become a meaningful holiday ritual that doesn’t revolve around eating. Visit VolunteerMatch, a website that allows you to browse opportunities by location and topic, to find fulfilling charity work near you.
Channel your inner child
We appreciate authentic Frosty Noggins and unchaperoned cuddling by the fire. But this year, connect with the kid inside by going ice-skating or organizing a game of volleyball or soccer at the local high school. Inaugurate a family tradition such as a Christmas Day sled or football game, and you’ll bond with your fam and log some exercise. By turning fitness into a fun social event (a little nostalgia never hurts), you’ll burn calories without even trying.
Remember, we may be on siesta from school and hiatus from adulthood, but we don’t need to devour Gingerbread cookies and lay on the couch all day to prove it. Seize the season by keeping life balanced and you’ll also be free of weight-woes. Winter break is one of the most treasured parts of college life, one of the few periods you have left to simply enjoy. Overdosing on anything, eggnog included, won’t help you get the most out of it.