With the holidays around the corner, I'm planning to take time off from work and catch up with friends.
In the past, we've gathered around meals, either in one of our homes or at restaurants. But this year, I'm really trying to avoid overeating which is so easy to do, especially when your focus is on socializing and not on the food in front of you.
So, I've decided to propose something new to them: That we go on outings that don't revolve around food -- outings where we can enjoy each other's company without increasing the sizes of our company (or of ourselves)!
Whether it's cold and snowy outside or not, we tend to associate the holiday season with ice skating, snowball fights, and snowmen. So, why not catch the spirit and go ice skating?
If conditions are right and you've got a frozen waterway nearby, all the better to enjoy the season. Otherwise, check out a rink.
I've done some research and found that there are ice skating rinks in every state in the U.S. If there isn't one near you, try roller rink instead. Skating is a great aerobic activity which uses just about all of your muscles, helping you to build strength and endurance. Plus, it's low-impact... unless you fall on your bum!
While bowling may not be one of those activities that rises to the top of your must-do list, it's actually a very enjoyable social activity.
It exercises muscles you may not use that often, so be sure to stretch a bit before and after. Plus, the cardio in bowling can help burn fat.
Which brings me to one other type of exercise (alas, this one doesn't burn calories) that you'll want to engage in at the bowling alley: restraint. Stay away from the French fries and nachos and beer that the servers flaunt in front of you. Try popcorn and sparkling water with lime, instead.
I love to hike in the winter. When there are no leaves on the trees, you can see for miles around, especially if you've can make it to a vantage point with some altitude. Find a hill or mountain in your area and challenge your friends to join you to the top.
If it's cold, you'll burn even more calories as your body works harder to stay warm (though be sue to bundle up well and bring a thermos filled with hot tea). Even if the temperature is balmy the day you choose for your outing, you'll still burn calories as you build your aerobic capacity and gain muscle mass.
What ever happened to good old dancing? It's certainly a social activity, and it reduces tension (holidays and family can be stressful, at times) and raises spirits.
I'll admit that I'm not very good dancer, but it sure feels good to move my body to the beats of '50s, disco, Cajun or Latin music. My philosophy, which you might want to encourage your friends to adapt also, is: Who cares what you look like? If you're having a good time, getting some exercise, and releasing those endorphins, then why not?
There are dance venues everywhere you look, and as long as you limit your consumption of alcoholic drinks on the dance floor, you'll burn off those holiday meals in no time.
No doubt, you've heard of and/or tried yoga and Pilates in recent years. You're probably aware of the many other types of low-impact floor-based activities that they've spawned, including good old stretching. If you're not already part of the movement, it's one you might want to consider.
These exercises are excellent for building strength, increasing flexibility, improving posture, and improving mental health. And, if you do them with friends -- either in a class or informally in someone's home -- you'll build relationship even without a lot of words. The power of "Om" chanted in a group can be stupendous. And, it might just help reinforce that resolve to stay fit in 2011.
Pam Greene's own journey to fitness started when a friend suffered through some health challenges. Realizing this was a wake-up call to her to focus on her own health, she started learning about fitness, nutrition and healthy weight loss. Pam now works for BeachBody, which provides Home Fitness Programs and Workout DVDs including the well known P90X exercise program.