Have Yourself a Merry Little “Pretox”

Heading for a total eclipse of the diet this season? Here’s how to prevent the damage ahead of time so you can enjoy the holidays without feeling so damn guilty.

holiday indulgence

The holidays are that magical time when we celebrate the end of the year via endless soirees, spending quality time lazing around the house with the fam, and elegantly stuffing our faces until our stomachs uncomfortably protrude from our bodies.

And if this past Thanksgiving was any indication—you know what you did!—it all goes downhill from here, and we’re not talking about skiing.

For most of us, this is the time of year where we throw our healthy diet and fitness routines out the festively-lit window in favor of full-on gorge fests. While it’s a given that come January, many scramble to detox away the past few weeks of damage, this year, why not take a proactive “pretox?”

MORE: Top 10 (Healthy) Holiday Eating Tips

While the rest of your crew spends the first week in January desperately signing up for gyms and sucking down gnarly spinach cleanse drinks, your December pretox means you can coast on into 2012 without having to overhaul your entire life for the sake of squeezing into your favorite jeans.

Here’s how to stringently prep for completely letting it all go.

Don’t bother starving yourself

Your first instinct might be to sneak in a precautionary juice fast in order to make up for all the extra calories you’re about to scarf. Not so fast, says celeb nutritionist (oh hi, J.Lo!) and wellness consultant Haylie Pomroy. “Traditional fasting and a significant reduction in calories can drastically slow down the body’s metabolism,” she says (frankly, much to our relief). “You need to have your fire stoked before you are able to burn a bunch of garbage.”

MORE: Five Food Felons to Avoid

So wait, does this mean we should be eating more, not less? Not exactly: It’s more about quality. “Eat clean! Additives, preservatives and food coloring have to be processed through the liver, which is the fat scavenger in the body. We want that ready and available to burn calories when it’s time to truly indulge.” In other words, focusing on whole foods instead of say, frozen pizza, means your body will be more efficient at processing those pigs in a blanket down the road.

Work out smarter, not harder

Now’s not the time to tack on extra-intense cardio sessions in the hope of burning off holiday cookies. Because of the complex relationship between high-intensity exercise and cortisol (one study found intense workouts may increase the stress hormone), you might end up being even more stressed out. Pomroy recommends cardio three to four times a week and maintaining a heart rate of about 130-135 beats per minute in order to increase your metabolic rate, and if you want to stoke the fire even more (we love that metaphor) add more low-impact activity, like say yoga rather than yet another spin class.

PS–Keep this in mind in case you are a non-work-outer right now and plan on becoming a gym bunny in 2012. Easy does it, folks.

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