Wellness | Healthy Holidays: 10 Tips to Stay on Track
By: Christina Rico, Health Coach & Personal Trainer
Halloween candy, Thanksgiving turkey and pie and cocktail parties with countless hors d'oeuvre—there is no doubt that the time between Halloween and New Year's Day is packed with more treats, parties and big dinners than usual.
For many people that also means less time to workout, due to all of the gatherings, shopping and various holiday festivities. We've all been there—you have intentions of working out, but then you see that there is a Christmas movie marathon on. Before you know it, you are lounging on the couch eating a tin of gourmet popcorn while watching Home Alone. After this happens a few times, you might just decide to fall off the fitness wagon during the holiday season altogether.
Despite what you may think, staying fit during the holiday season does not have to seem like an impossible feat. In fact, it does not even mean foregoing your favorite traditions and spending time with your loved ones. Below are nine simple tips to help you stay on track with your fitness goals this holiday season, so you can finish the year in your best shape!
1. Enlist an accountability buddy.
Find a friend or someone in your family who wants to stay on track this holiday season too! Workout together, and give each other a boost of encouragement. When you surround yourself with positive people who support your goals, you are more likely to be successful.
2. Set new goals.
Having a short-term goal will encourage you to stay on track during the holidays. Find a local 5K, obstacle race or fitness competition coming up in January or February, and register yourself to participate. You will be less likely to slack off if you commit yourself to training for a competition.
3. Schedule your workouts like appointments and don't miss miss them!
In the midst of the holiday craziness (shopping, parties, cooking) the last thing you want to think about is getting in your workout. Put your workouts into your schedule just like you would any other appointment. You wouldn't miss your nail appointment if you set a reminder in your calendar, right? The same should go for your workouts! If you are short on time, you can even do a quick workout at home. Plus, exercise may help to ease your holiday stress.
4. Remember the reason for the season.
The holidays are not just about food; so do not make food the center of obsession. Focus on spending time with your friends and family, and enjoy holiday festivities. Continue living your normal routine. Just because it's the “season” for specialty holiday desserts and big meals, do not use that as an excuse to overindulge in pie and cookies. You could even make it a family tradition to play a game of Frisbee or have a group workout on Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the goal to promote healthy habits.
5. Bring your own dish to holiday parties.
Share the gift of health with your family! Bring a nutritious dish to all of your holiday gatherings. Show your friends and family that eating healthy can be delicious. If they don't like your dish, more nutrients for you!
6. Enjoy an indulgence without guilt.
It's true, when most people think of the holidays, they think about spending time with loved ones while enjoying an abundance of delicious treats. Do not deprive yourself of the things you love about the holiday season. Indulge in moderation, and do not feel guilty about it. Practice living a healthy and balanced lifestyle!
7. Monitor alcohol consumption.
While one or two drinks during your holiday parties is perfectly fine, monitor your consumption because many alcoholic beverages are packed with sugar and “empty calories”. Alcohol can also make you hungry and trigger cravings that may cause you to overeat. Before heading out for a holiday party, set a limit for yourself, and don't exceed it!
8. Don't go to parties starving.
When you are hungry, you are more likely to eat with your eyes and not your stomach. Instead of “saving your calories” for the big meal, try eating a healthy breakfast and snacks throughout the day. When it is time for dinner, you will not feel as tempted to eat everything in sight.
9. Load your plate with vegetables.
Vegetables are full of nutrients and fiber, so they will help you feel full. Yet, they are naturally low in calories. Before packing your plate full with potatoes, stuffing and dressing, reach for the vegetables. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and lean meat, and save the other half for a few sides that you want to try.
10. Drink water.
When the weather cools down and you get caught in the holiday bustle, it can be easy to forget to drink water. Your body requires water to function properly. Water has numerous functions in the body, including flushing out toxins from the body and reducing cravings. Often times, we even mistake thirst for hunger. Drink a tall glass of water before parties and eating big meals—it may help you feel full.
Follow these tips, and rest assured that you will be prepared to have a health and happy holiday season.