|Photo: Max Abadian
Ours is a time of such health obsession, it’s a wonder Buddha statues haven’t been overhauled to flaunt six-pack abs and clavicle. But come the holidays, even the most workout-dedicated babes among us somehow find themselves transformed from lean, mean fitness machines into harried vessels for stress, sleeplessness, complexion theatrics and every other seasonal ailment you can think of—not to mention the weak knees triggered by a perfectly mixed eggnog martini. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stop the winter body blues from taking the jingle out of your bells.
Brain According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), sleep loss can not only affect daytime functioning but also increase the risk of diabetes, contribute to depression, strain relationships and play a role in obesity. To ensure that your brain—which governs sleep and wakefulness—continues to operate in a manner that keeps you from face-planting into the Christmas turkey, the AASM recommends the following:
-Plan ahead to avoid feelings of last-minute anxiety or overcommitment;
-Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
-Take time during the holiday party season to relax.
-Avoid heavy meals before bedtime, which can lead to heartburn and discomfort.
-Limit booze and caffeine, both of which can inhibit normal sleep patterns.
Skin For many women this time of year, the only thing scarier than the scale is the bathroom mirror. That’s because cold weather and low humidity cause water to flee the skin fast, resulting in a dry, flaky complexion. Dr. Jaggi Rao, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, suggests the following combat solutions: -Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer after facial cleansing. -If you’re considering cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels and lasers, now is the time: the minimal sun, cool temps and built-in break from the daily grind create the perfect conditions for a graceful recovery.
Midriff Shan MacDermott, a fitness instructor from Edmonton, has a few tips to help us keep the flab from our abs.
-For those who haven’t been active in a while, crunches—2–3 sets of 8–12 reps—are a good starting point.
-Performed oblique twists in a cross-legged position on a mat with your back as straight as possible,
-For a front plank, place your elbows and forearms on the floor, hands together, body extended out in a straight line, like a tabletop, while on your toes. Flex your abs to help protect your back, and keep your posterior down. For a side plank, lie on your side with feet stacked on top of one another. Raise yourself on one elbow with forearm down (elbow should be under shoulder, with shoulder lower than ears), with your hips off the floor. Push from the bottom and pull from the top, as if there’s a string from the underside of your waist through to the top of it, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
-Balance midriff exercises with a back routine, which will help promote better posture and prevent the hunchback effect that can come from too-tight abs.