With the holidays over, you may glance down at your toes and find that they're not there. Chances are they're cleverly hiding behind the belly full of jelly you've contracted over the past weeks while you put every food and drink in sight down your throat without hesitation. Whether you went a couple handfuls overboard on the sugary, butter-glazed Santa cookies or molded your useless body into the same couch space for consecutive days, it's time to turn the tables and get back to that healthy lifestyle you once had. Or, if you were overweight and out of shape before, here are some ideas on how to change that, too.
Get Back to the Gym
It's time again to renew the membership to whatever sweaty, nude locker room you've been ignoring the past few months. If you've been slipping on your commitment, it's high time you strap on your best headband and work that belly back to whichever size waistband you had before the binging began. If you have your own workout routine, slowly build yourself back up to wherever you left off at, but if it's been awhile and your body shows it, start small and work your way up. You don't have to start by ripping encyclopedias by their bindings, but you can get your muscles moving again on a regular basis. Don't even worry about weights immediately. Just getting in the exercise is what's important, whether it's using the elliptical machine while you stare down female hard bodies or doing jumping jacks with your shirt knotted at the bottom. Just get active and burn the hell out of the those fudge-flavored calories.
Go Old School
Any guy who appreciates a quiet workout space and lack of sex offenders with card memberships can do just as much good to his body from home. If you're away from your routine and don't have access to a gym, get into some simple old-fashioned workouts.
Push-ups and sit-ups are the backbone of any workout routine, so focusing on those basic exercises will do the trick. Adding in a long walk or brisk jog will give you the arms, chest, stomach and legs workout you need. If it's too cold or icy outside, run in place; it'll save you from catching that cold, and it looks super cool. Sometimes keeping it simple and old school is better than constantly throwing curveballs at your body and living in pain all the time. It's okay to not pay $40 each month if you have an eight square foot slab of carpet. It might be a good idea to invest in a yoga or workout mat, which will keep rug burns to a minimum. Regardless, keep it simple and you'll get there.
Stretch It Out
Before you begin any of these workouts, strenuous or otherwise, it's highly important to stretch first. Part of the problem that stems from eating like a horse and sleeping it off all day is a lack of flexibility it causes. Your muscles may be tight and need some loosening before they are thrown into a full workout routine. That's like Bruce Banner trying to jump from building to building without turning into the Hulk first. You don't have to become a professional yogi, but a few toe touches and arm stretches couldn't hurt. As long as the arms and legs are warmed up, you should be good to go. No point in hurting yourself in the first five minutes because you couldn't do jumping jacks for 30 seconds.
Watch What You Eat
If everybody and their dog knows you don't have a prayer when it comes to workout commitments, then you can at least eat better. If you're not going to help yourself by correctly exerting energy out of your body, you should at least pay attention to what you're putting into it. Christmas is over, so it's time to put the cookies and fudge away until next year. Start eliminating the sugar and preservatives from your diet and get back to adding in protein and vitamins. The road to holiday recovery is long and filled with truffles and temptation, but getting the right food will be crucial when it's time to get back to work. Slamming a sleeve of Oreos and passing out against your computer screen might be fine with your folks, but not so much with your boss, so make the necessary adjustments. It's really quite simple, too: a small, healthy breakfast, a good intake of fruits and veggies, followed by a full, protein-minded dinner and a lacking of the snacking. Be strong.
Another great thing to get back into, which goes hand in mouth with good eating, is taking down a fruit smoothie or veggie juice everyday. Maybe two. If Santa didn't leave you with a juicer this year, take some of that Christmas money you're saving for the bars and get one. It's a tremendous investment, and it's perfect if you don't necessarily enjoy eating whole fruits and veggies all day. Just cram them into the blender and throw it back in a matter of minutes. Depending on how your body is feeling, or what you may be deficient in, there's plenty of recipes, with anything from energy-boosting and skin-replenishing to life-elongating and disease-preventing. Whatever type you need is out there on a shelf with a nutritional recipe booklet inside, plus doing it from home is quicker and cheaper than having someone do it for you. Make a couple each night, one for then and one for the morning. Or make them in the morning. The choice is yours, but either way your body will thank you, most likely in the form of consistently pain-free bowel movements.
Eating right and exercising are good and all, but sometimes our lifestyles alone have the ability to transform how we look and feel. Sleeping 10 hours, missing the best parts of the morning and throwing yourself right into the lunch hour everyday is probably not as healthy as other options. Waking early has lots of advantages compared to sleeping in. Although eight hours of rest is required for several reasons, timing is still everything. Getting up at a decent hour consistently sets you up to have time for an unhurried breakfast, calm walk and stress-free start to the day. Sleeping in rushes everything, makes you panic and forces inspiration out of the way in order to get to the coffee pot before it's empty. Get up and stop hitting snooze, you lazy bum.
Turn Off the TV
The holidays are great for nothing if not a long stint of heavy television and movie intake. After all, how else are we supposed to get into the spirit of the season, by talking to our loved ones and writing Christmas cards? No way! Now that the holidays are gone and people are making resolutions they cannot keep, why not make an honest effort to cut back on the television, movies and web series and replace them with some honest living of your own life? Sounds challenging, but it's possible. Try a little social experiment with yourself. Cut out cable for a couple of months, or even just avoid the TV when you normally would break and gorge around it. Replace that activity with a healthier one, like working on a hobby, reading or exercising, and see if you don't feel more productive, and better physically or intellectually. It's worth a try, and if we're wrong, you can go back to watching Bryan Cranston cook meth or the gazillionth episode of "The Simpsons."
Stand When you Would Sit
Little things that bother us now but will plague us in our elderly years, like back pain and foot cramps, are things that can be avoided or at least delayed just by sitting less. Sitting for eight hours every single day at work and at home is one of leading causes of obesity, lack of physical fitness, disease, muscle pain and bad posture. One of the best solutions is to stand when you would normally sit. This increases the blood flow and helps to promote a stronger physical body as you use muscles that are commonly ignored when sitting. Take it a step further and bike when you would drive or walk the long way home. Nobody is asking you to sleep or shit standing up, but just do something small that will make your body feel better in the long run.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again -- keep your life stress-free. In addition to over-eating, over-sleeping and over-sitting, stress is what does a lot of people in, both mentally and physically. The days can be have their obstacles, sure, but living stressfully when everything is fine and dandy is pointless. Don't let spilled milk, cold coffee and the wrong cheese on your sandwich be your downfall. Be grateful for how things are going and stay focused on the present moment. When something actually bad does happen, then you can deal with that when the time comes. There is no changing the past or controlling the future, so don't even bother. Just make the current moment be your concern and enjoy it. From there, you'll notice the stress fall away, along with the stress-eating and knit-picking, which kind of make you seem like less of a man anyway.