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How To Stay Fit and Avoid Holiday Pounds During the Pandemic

With coronavirus cases surging once again across the country, more and more people are taking caution and staying home. Some cities have enacted stay-at-home orders, closing gyms and workout arenas.

The holiday season is also upon us, so shuttered gyms coupled with weeks of additional eating and drinking can be a recipe for quick weight gain if you’re not careful. 

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to outsmart the holiday pounds and stay fit while we stay safe.  

How to Stay Fit | Home Is Where the Workout Is 

Before the pandemic hit, if I didn’t make it to the gym four times a week, I would consider it a failure. But when gyms initially closed, I realized I would need to get creative. I bought some simple equipment–free weights, a mat, and some resistance bands– and started using YouTube for home workouts. 

My favorite exercise YouTube channels require very little space and little to no equipment. As a working mother of a 2-year-old, time is often at a premium.  I find that videos between 30 and 50 minutes long provide me with a satisfying workout in the amount of time I can usually bribe someone else to keep an eye on the tyke. 

Some of my favorite channels are:

  • Sydney Cummings–a variety of workout videos posted daily, including cardio, boot camp, high intensity interval training, targeted muscle groups, and strength training. All ability levels are welcome and modifications are offered. 
  • MadFit--shorter, targeted videos including upper body, abs, glutes, core, and stress-relief yoga and stretching. Also fun are the dance party videos! 
  • PopSugar Fitness--exercise and wellness tutorials including kickboxing, Zumba, HIIT, and Pilates. Videos generally last between 20 and 45 minutes. 

Adjust Your Vision of What “Working Out” Means

If you’re a busy parent like me, there are going to be days when you don’t even have time for a YouTube workout. Those are the perfect opportunities to grab the kids and get fit together. 

For parents of babies and toddlers, the most convenient exercise is going for long walks. You might even be able to lull them into a quick nap, too! I was going for daily walks in the spring, summer, and fall. Walking at a brisk pace (about 3.5 miles per hour) can burn about 300 calories an hour. Bonus points if you’re pushing a stroller up a hill. 

But what happens when the weather turns cold, or snowy? It’s definitely harder to muster the motivation when the temperature dips below freezing. But what you might not know is winter kiddie activities can also burn tons of calories:

  • Ice Skating — 500-to-700 calories per hour
  • Playing in the snow (building a snowman, having a snowball fight, snow angels) — 400-to-600 calories per hour
  • Sledding — around 500 calories per hour

Keep Your Eyes on Your Intake

One of the biggest mistakes you can make if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight is say to yourself, “Hey, I worked out today. I can eat or drink whatever I want. I already burned it off!” 

Let me be the first to say no matter how hard you think you worked out, you did not already burn it all off. Trust me. A bottle of wine generally has about 600 calories in it. That piece of pumpkin pie has about 350. And that’s not even counting dinner. 

However, there is a way to eat whatever you want, and it’s called moderation. Many of us are choosing to avoid large gatherings for the holidays, which should help you be more in control of your options. Instead of loading up on cheese and crackers before dinner, try filling half your plate with veggies and fat-free dip. It will help you remain full and avoid eating the entire block of cheese (not that I’ve ever done that). For dessert, take the slice you were going to eat and cut it in half. 

And some days are just meant for us to spoil ourselves. So go ahead and indulge on your favorite holiday! Just know you can jump back into moderation tomorrow.

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Elizabeth DiPietro

Liz DiPietro has been a staff writer for In The Zone since 2011. She is a New York City public school teacher working at a middle school in Brooklyn, NY. Liz has a Master's of Creative Writing from Queens College and a Master's of Special Education from the College of Staten Island. She is a diehard Yankees, Knicks, and Jets fan and exercise enthusiast. Liz lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband Dave and 2-year-old son Christopher.

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