Author, Speaker and Health & Wellness Expert Sonia Jhas wants to motivate you. More specifically, she wants to motivate you during the most difficult time of the year in terms of getting your fitness back on track: the post-holidays.
The nutrition specialist and Certified Person Trainer had a chat with ONtheGO to help us figure out how to keep the calories off during the dreaded darkness of the winter months. Jhas also explains the need for accountability and goal setting as part of long-term approach. We all love pies, rolls and various salty meats over Christmas break, but before starting to line-up for seconds, have a read and take heed at Sonia’s advice. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce and MBA from Queen’s, but her abs and biceps alone tell us she’s worth a listen.
OTG: Why the New Year is a great time to get your health and wellness back on track?
SONIA: Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the average person gains about seven to ten pounds. Yup, it sounds shocking, but really when you think about it, health and wellness really does fall to the side lines during this time of year. The days get shorter, the need for comfort-food sets in, and with the onset of holiday parties, we all struggle hard to stick to our health and wellness regimes. This is why, as cliché as it sounds, it becomes vital for us to use the New Year to get ourselves back on track. It’s a pretty natural “fresh start”, a time when we can re-commit to our fitness goals, and re-establish our plan of attack.
OTG: What type of workout do you recommend to help burn off the holiday calories?
SONIA: While traditional cardio workouts, such as jogging, are great for burning calories, the best way to burn off holiday calories is to focus your efforts on strength training. You see, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. So, when you strength train, you not only burn calories during your workout, but you also burn more calories overall, even while you’re doing nothing! Sure, we don’t have a ton of time during the holidays to hit the gym, but that’s nothing to worry about. Doing interval- style body weight exercises can be done in no time at home! For example, consider doing a Tabata set of burpees or jump squats — 8 sets of 20 seconds max intensity effort, followed by 10 seconds rest. This workout will take you 4 minutes, and I assure you, your muscles will be fired up! Working large muscle groups is always best, so consider focusing on your legs, back, chest, and core.
OTG: What can we do to remain motivated and not fall off the wagon by the middle of January?
SONIA: My suggestion is to find an accountability partner — someone who’s going to be “on the journey” with you. This person can be a friend, a colleague, a spouse, a personal trainer, or anyone else that you can depend on. You’re really just looking to find someone to check-in with. Someone who’s going to give you a nudge when you’ve slacked off for a couple of days. Someone that’s going to help push you when your motivation is wavering. Winter is super tough, and thinking that we can single-handedly maintain our focus and dedication till spring is unrealistic. So find a partner-in-crime who you can help you stay the course!
OTG: How can we make fitness a lifestyle and not a “fad”?
SONIA: Be really realistic about what is going to be sustainable in the long run. Sure, if you want to lose weight, you can cut out all carbs and go to the gym twice a day. Will you see results? Yup. But will you be able to sustain the results? Unlikely. So, my suggestion is to take a longer- term approach. Set short-term and long-term goals and then figure out the right fitness and nutrition regime to help you achieve those goals. You’re not looking for overnight results, rather you’re looking to make changes that will set you up for success permanently. Have a detailed plan of attack — plan out your workouts, plan out your meals, and plan out your rest days. Keep a log of all that you’re accomplishing so that you can clearly see that you’re establishing a new lifestyle for yourself. Fitness isn’t a punishment, so find activities and nourishment that feels enjoyable for you. The idea is not to find short- term fixes, because those will never last!