Post-Holiday Health: Trading Pie for Planks

If you’re anything like me, you may have indulged a little too much during the holidays. It’s OK, I won’t tell. Every year, I try to stay strong, but then there’s pie. And with that pie comes a social calendar that makes me feel like a rock star, but leaves little-to-no time for exercise. So what’s a girl to do once the holiday festivities fade and a shiny new year peeks over the horizon?

It’s easy to think that crash dieting and throwing yourself into an intense exercise routine is the fastest way to burn off those post-holiday pounds, but making extreme changes to your routine can be dangerous. I talked with certified personal trainer and medical exercise specialist, Tim Rabetoy, to find out how to get fit the healthy way after a hiatus.

According to Rabetoy, there are three main components to getting back in shape after the holidays:

Diet. “The most important factor in our health, body composition, and the way we look physically comes down to having a healthy diet,” says Rabetoy. He suggests cutting carbs, especially white bread, flour, and rice, dropping fast food, and swapping processed foods for whole ones. The more whole foods you consume —like fresh, organic produce and lean meats — the better. Consider reducing your portions to cut your caloric intake.

Exercise. Consistent exercise that combines cardio and strength training is best. Rabetoy says if you’re restarting your exercise program after weeks of inactivity, don’t go full throttle. “People need to condition their bodies slowly to prevent burnout and more importantly, injury,” says Rabetoy. He suggests easing in to two days of total body strength training and one day of cardio. Cardio is essential to keeping your heart and lungs healthy, but Rabetoy doesn’t recommend any kind of running for those 35 and over because it’s too hard on the joints. 

Time. Consistency is key to building a sustainable routine. Rabetoy says it’s important to be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to exercise each week. Create an achievable plan and stick to it.

Here’s a sample workout to get you started:

Strength Training

Do three sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise (except plank):

  1. Squats
  2. Incline dumbbell chest press
  3. Upper-back rows
  4. Seated overhead shoulder press
  5. One 30-second plank
  6. Wide-grip pulldowns
  7. Tricep bench dips
  8. Standing bicep curls
  9. Crunches
  10. Lower-back Extensions

Ready for more? Rabetoy recommends increasing resistance when you can lift your weights more than 15 times. Increasing strength means continually increasing the weights you lift.

Cardio

Walk uphill as quickly as possible on a treadmill set to a low incline for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Ready for more? Rabetoy says it’s time for a new challenge when you can maintain the same pace and incline comfortably for 20 minutes. Try increasing your incline by one degree, adding five minutes to your walk, or increasing your speed once a week.