Tips to Score a Healthy March Madness

By Jessica Von Duerring, Senior Copywriter, Pilates and Barre-Certified

Who doesn’t love March Madness? It’s a time of year filled with excitement, energy and Madness, when people from all over the nation – from President Obama to those who have never watched a game – welcome spring with their passion, brackets, and too many chicken wings. But… isn't it slightly ironic that while you are watching players burn hundreds of calories, you could be consuming hundreds of calories? Have a healthier March Madness by following these tips.

1. Fit in fitness. When days are filled with basketball, plan ahead. Get up early and go for a jog, take a group fitness class, or burn off some pre-game energy (and get in the spirit!) by shooting some hoops with your family. You can also mix up your workout by doing some March Madness-themed exercises at home – like push-ups on a basketball or side steps and torso rotations while holding a basketball. 

2. Take a beer time-out. While basketball and beer often go hand-in-hand, keep in mind that a 12-ounce serving of beer contains about 150 calories – these can add up very quickly. By choosing a light beer, you can cut down on your liquid calories by around 40 percent. Try setting a time limit, too, like no drinks before 7 p.m., so that you're not drinking booze for hours straight. You can also alternate beer and water, and leave the beer in a place where you have to travel to get it.

3. Intercept fatty snacks (re: chicken wings). Wings are undoubtedly delicious, but are also one of the worst ways to eat chicken – the fatty skin, greasy meat and heavy sauces can quickly max you out on calories, plus they're bad for your heart. To lighten up chicken wings, cut some skinless chicken breasts into strips; pour on your own flavorful hot sauce or low-fat condiments such as teriyaki or BBQ; and roast, grill or broil. For dipping, mix plain nonfat yogurt with fresh crumbled blue cheese, or use salsa. 

4. Work out stress. When your bracket is busted, work out your frustration  literally. Non-strenuous exercise, like yoga or Pilates, can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer. Strenuous and vigorous exercise can also help you to work off anger and frustrating feelings. No time to go to the gym? Play with your kids, walk the dog, or walk up and down your living room or stairs as you watch the games. 

5. Be the party host. Inviting your friends and family over to watch the games at your place is a wise way to control food and drink options, as well as save money. Smart swap typically fatty fare with oven-fried zucchini sticks, veggies and hummus, zesty bean dip or game-winning guacamole with whole-wheat chips, etc. 

6. Prioritize the games. It’s easy to find yourself hopelessly glued to the tube during March Madness. Try prioritizing the games you really must see and consider skipping others in favor of a workout. If you must see them all, visit your local gym if it’s televising the games, and root for your team from the treadmill or stationary bicycle.

By sticking to your game plan, you can have fun without losing sight of your goals. Just make a few simple changes like these, and you’ll be sure to finish off the games with a slam dunk. Happy March Madness!