5 Tips to Maintain Your Fitness During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is notorious for decadent treats, calorie-laden drinks and a jam-packed schedule. So it’s no wonder that the Thanksgiving feast, watching football and festive beverages are in your top 10 list of things to be thankful for kicking off this holiday season. However, breaking out the elastic waistbands and stocking up on cookies and candies can wreak havoc on your health and fitness goals. With some careful preparation and using some tips from football, you can scoreboard the holiday season with confidence.

Have a game plan

Like many others, you may be spending the next couple months celebrating holidays with families, often traveling to get there, plus going to parties and managing your normal day-to-day on top of it all. It’s easy to let fitness fall by the wayside. But just professional football teams, going in with a game plan can make an enormous difference in setting yourself up for success. If you don’t subscribe to using calendars and lists throughout the rest of the year, try to make an exception for the holiday season.

Whether you prefer print or digital, there are a myriad of ways to create a to-do list and schedule. A weekly calendar and task list can give you an idea of everything you have coming up so you don’t feel blindsided by that child’s holiday party or Christmas dinner at Aunt Debbie’s you might have forgotten about. A daily to-do list with tasks and times can keep you focused on getting projects done without losing track of the day or forgetting what you were doing. Click here for a free weekly and daily organizer you can use to stay organized.

Start by adding any concrete meetings, appointments or parties in your schedule. Then start adding tasks you need to accomplish each day in order to be ready when your next event rolls around. Last, but not least important, schedule your workout. If you’re incredibly busy, aim for two or three workouts per week. It will keep you in the goal-achieving mindset without undoing all the hard work you’ve done throughout the year or making you feel guilty for not getting other things accomplished.

Optimize the plays

The play clock only has so many seconds on it, just as you only have so many hours in the day. Make the most of the time you’ve scheduled for a workout by performing the Sprint 8® workout. This amazing 20-minute aerobic workout has been medically proven to boost energy, reduce body fat, promote lean muscle mass, improve your cholesterol and increase bone density through the natural release of human growth hormone.

Each Sprint 8 workout consists of:

  • A four-minute warm up and cool down
  • Eight, 30-second sprints
  • Eight, 90-second active recovery periods.

That’s only four minutes of intense cardio per session. When performed three times per week, that equals 12 total minutes of high-intensity exercise per week and only an hour total of exercise.

Plan for substitutions

Exercise and diet go hand in hand. Although it’s extremely helpful to keep up with a semi-consistent fitness routine throughout the holidays, incorporating some healthy eating throughout can keep weight gain at bay. Of course, everyone indulges a little during the holidays, but some simple, tasty substitutions can allow you to enjoy without feeling guilty or miserable afterwards.

Love potatoes? Try mashed cauliflower. It offers the same creamy, fluffy texture without all of the starch and calories. You can still add some of your favorite mix-ins and toppings for a more traditional mashed potato flavor. Click here for a recipe idea. You can also forgo the sweet potato casserole by making baked sweet potatoes topped with a little butter, maple syrup and cinnamon. Or, try oven-baked sweet potato fries.

Can’t pass up dessert? Apple, blueberry, pumpkin and pecan – pies are the quintessential dessert of the holidays. It can be tough to say “no,” to one or more helpings with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Try eliminating some calories by taking out the crust and making “crumbles” instead of pies. You still get a little buttery, flaky crunch. Another tip is to make your fillings using fresh fruit instead of canned fruit. It’s extra effort, but the taste is equally, if not more, incredible and it’s more health conscious on many levels.

Take TV timeouts

Yes, there are parades and football games and Christmas specials to watch. However, scheduling some timeouts from TV-watching may be just the ticket to keep you from feeling lethargic and falling asleep during your third college football game of the day. Take advantage of nice weather and get outside for an hour.

Plan a sledding event with friends or family for a fun way to spend time with those you care about and get some exercise in. Schedule a game of two-hand touch or half-court basketball between dinner and dessert to stay awake and earn some of those sweets you’ll consume. Other ideas include building a snowman or snow fort, ice skating, skiing or snowboarding.

Celebrate your success

When football players score a touchdown, they don’t wait to get home to do their end zone celebration. You shouldn’t have to either. Only ate one piece of pie? Skipped the potatoes? Ate white meat instead of dark? Good for you! Celebrate your small successes with family and friends in person, on the phone or online. You may even want to join a like-minded group on an online community like SparkPeople ahead of time to stay inspired and to have a place to brag where your achievements will be supported. You can even post your success here in the comments section.

The holidays are a flurry of activity, but it doesn’t have to be a time of dread or diet deceit leading up to the New Year. Following these simple tips will help you stay on the ball and keep you focused on your health and fitness goals throughout even the busiest weeks.

Have a plan in place or maybe some tips that have helped you in the past? Share them in the comments.

7 Tips to Consider When Purchasing a Treadmill

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Walking into a fitness store can be an overwhelming event. There’s typically a wide variety of equipment to view and consider buying for your home. But it doesn’t have to be a fearful experience. Armed with some sound advice, you can find the perfect treadmill to bring home and enjoy for years to come. Knowing a little in advance what you may be looking for will help your specialty fitness retailer provide suggestions on the treadmill for you. Here are seven tips to consider when purchasing a new treadmill.

1. Never ever buy a treadmill you don’t have an opportunity to try first

This advice should be applied to the purchase of any piece of fitness equipment. The way a treadmill fits and feels to you is perhaps the single most overlooked consideration and will have a tremendous influence on whether or not you enjoy using it and whether or not you want to get on and use it again. Reviews are helpful, but do not rely on reviews alone.

2. Space and placementFolding treadmill

Know where you want to put the machine and measure the space before you go shopping. If you are considering a folding unit, know that this feature adds to the cost of any unit and ask yourself if it is a necessary feature, meaning will you actually fold it up when you are not using it.

3. Don’t think that just because you plan on walking that the motor isn’t important

Walking can, in many cases, create more work for a motor than running. This is because at slow speeds the amount of time your foot is in contact and “dragging” or being pulled across the deck surface is longer than when running. Your push off at the end of a running stride will also “push” the belt. This push is missing while at walking speeds. This “push” also occurs when walking at inclines, both of which assist the motor. When the motor is running fast it also has the assistance of inertia.

4. Programs are not bells and whistles

There is a varying degree of quality and effectiveness in programming options, but in general, programs should help you achieve your goals faster while keeping you engaged in your workout. Ask yourself if your current or past “routine” is getting or had gotten you the results you are after. Ask your sales consultant if the unit has any programs that are specific to the goal you are trying to achieve. Great examples of this would be Sprint 8®, Glute Burn, 5K, HR Control and Virtual Active™ programs.

5. Controls

Are the controls for speed and incline displayed and accessible in a way that is easy and comfortable for you to use when walking or running on the treadmill the way you will use it at home? Can you change speed and incline while running or walking at full stride or a high incline without jeopardizing your safety? Again, it is important that you try the treadmill before you buy it, go shopping in comfortable, preferably workout, clothing. Don’t forget to consider the design of the side steps: Are they wide enough, and are they slip resistant?

6. Where you buy is important

Buy from a dealership/salesperson that you can come back to for support and questions after the sale. Although a treadmill purchase can be a pricey endeavor, remember that it is still a mechanical item with many moving parts that must work in unison. And even the very best quality exercise equipment has the potential need for support and service.

7. Prepare yourself for an investment

Know that a quality treadmill should last you for many years and that it is a long-term investment. Although everyone should work within their budget, don’t skimp where you don’t have to. This purchase is a long-term commitment to yourself, and you’re worth it. You don’t want something you won’t enjoy, and you don’t want to buy a treadmill every couple of years.

Print these buying tips out, write them down or save them in a file on your computer. However you choose, make sure you consider these tips when walking into any fitness store to make the next treadmill purchase for your home.

Switching From Miles to Kilometers on the New Vision Fitness® Consoles

Product personalization is a key consideration when choosing a product, including fitness equipment. One great feature all new Vision Fitness® consoles have is the ability to switch your speed readout from miles to kilometers. The Elegant and Touch consoles also allow you to see distance in either miles or kilometers at any time in your workout, no matter what your Region settings are. See below for your console, and see how you can start changing the speed feedback in your workout to fit your preferences!

Classic Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. For the switch function mode on a treadmill, press the INCLINE UP arrow button to take you to ENG3. For an elliptical or bike press the RESISTANCE UP arrow button to take you to ENG2.
  5. Press the ENTER button.
  6. Now press the START button, the display will change between Miles and KM (Kilometers).
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  8. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Elegant Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill, press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode.  At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Now press the third ATM-style button on the left side of the screen to select Region.
  5. Once in Region, you can press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue 3 times to go to the page to switch from Miles or Kilometers.
  6. Using the middle left ATM-style keys, select STANDARD (Miles) or METRIC (Kilometers).
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom left ATM style button to select Finished.
  8. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Touch Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill, press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Region on the left side of the screen.
  5. Once in Region, press the word UNITS, then make your selection for Metric (KM) or Standard (MI) with the buttons that appear in the top right side of the screen.
  6. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button in the top right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Having the ability to switch between miles and kilometers allows you to optimize your console’s functionality, train in metric or standard speed and will provide a better overall workout experience.