3 simple steps to maintain a healthy balance during holiday season

With most countries in the off season for American football and the festive Christmas and New Year’s season kicking into gear, staying in shape and finding a simple holiday training program can be a tall order for athletes.

Christmas parties and holiday fare will be the order of the day for the next few weeks, so some players may want to take it easy, work out a little less and eat a little more. It is natural to get caught up in all the festivities during this time of year.

However, it’s important to maintain a regular exercise routine and stay in shape during down time. For athletes looking to take the next step, showing the discipline and motivation to stay in healthy shape year-round can propel them past teammates and competition.

Many football programs – from the NFL down to the youth level – have offseason workout programs in place. However, it is up to the individual player to maintain or improve habits on their own time.

Here are some training tips to follow during the months right after the season.

Watch your diet

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With all of the candy, cookies, pies and huge family dinners combined with cold weather outside, it is easy to pack on weight and harder to get it off. While you don’t have to stick to their in-season diet, you need to maintain discipline.

Start with the basics:

  • Limit carb intake.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables.
  • Stick to one main plate and a second for salad.
  • Eat a smaller portion for desert – and no seconds
  • Eat a number of small plates throughout the day and not a massive plate at one time.
  • Eat slowly and take sips of water between each bite.

Enjoy all the food and snacks. Just don’t go overboard. As you continue to grow, your diet will adjust with your body size. It will get to a point where maintaining a balance becomes scientific and complex, so enjoy the easiness of it now.

Continue cardio

You deserve to give your body some rest from the season, but you need to stay active. Maintain some sort of schedule through the holidays, and start with simple things, such as:

  • Taking the dog for a long walk, especially after meals.
  • Basic cardio routines around the house or neighborhood.
  • Extra chores around the house or yard.

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From there, spend time at the gym or home gym if you have one. How hard you want to go depends on you, but include a variety of sprints, jumps and position drills. Mix it up every day. It doesn’t have to be too strenuous. You are just trying to maintain shape.

On the days you might eat a little more than normal, do your cardio in the morning and take plenty of walks throughout the day as you eat.

Keep strength training short and simple

A steady schedule of squats, deadlifts and clean and presses will maintain strength. If you are in high school and looking to bulk up and add more mass, adjust the training as need be. The goal, though is to maintain strength in the offseason. You don’t want to get weaker.

This is a quick snapshot on how to stay healthy and active during the holidays. Each individual’s strategy will differ but with a little time and effort, you will get through the offseason in strong shape to start again.

Enjoy the rest, the holidays and the family time. Make the effort now to be discipline, and it will pay off in the long run.

Link to original article in USA Football.

Pete Macias is a USA Football Ambassador, Assistant Master Trainer and Copywriter. He also worked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is on the Advisory Board of the NFL Alumni Tampa chapter. Pete is also Director of Operations for Yoga for Men, and is