A Healthy Way to Handle the Holidays

As soon as your calendar changes to November, it’s as if you can hear the invites on their way to fill it through the end of the year. Between traveling to visit family, hosting gatherings at your place and making the minimum of an appearance at umpteen holiday functions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and put your healthy eating and fitness goals on the back burner.

It doesn’t have to be black-and-white, all-or-nothing until the New Year. It’s possible to keep your food choices in check while enjoying this festive time of year, checking guilt at the door and savoring the season! Here are some tips from fitting in exercise and keeping up your motivation to strategically enjoying all your holiday parties.

The Exercise Part

  • Early Does It – With happy hour get togethers and last-minute shopping, working out first thing in the morning eliminates the chance of the day getting away from you.
  • Short and Sweaty – If you regularly do 45-60min workouts, you may feel any less isn’t worth doing. Wrong! If all you have is 20-30 minutes, go for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Go all out (sprints, stationary bike, elliptical, burpees, etc) for :20-:45 seconds and take twice as long to recover. Complete 10-20 intervals and you’ll wonder why you ever spent so much time on the treadmill! Here are some other workouts when you’re crunched for time:
  • Be A Homebody – Between holiday hours and snowfall totals, getting to a gym isn’t as easy as it was in the summer. Keep your workout inside with bodyweight exercises and continue seeing results.
  • A Family Affair – You don’t want to spend limited time with family at the gym, and you shouldn’t feel you have to. Double up and make your time with them your workout. A long power walk will take care of your cardio while catching up on what’s going on in their worlds. Take the kids sledding for a killer workout while having fun!
  • Set A Post-Season Goal – There’s nothing like a January 5K on the calendar to get you moving! Having a tangible and time-sensitive fitness goal is a great way to revamp your motivation to stick to a schedule.
  • Challenge Accepted – Challenge your friends, family or coworkers to a holiday challenge. Use Facebook to set a group or create or join a challenge on apps like Fitbit, Dailymile.com, MyFitnessPal.com, or RunKeeper.com to create a real-time virtual challenge!
  • Make A Deal  – Gyms and fitness studios always have holiday specials. Take advantage of free classes, reduced memberships and giveaways to save money and discover new workouts in your area!

The Food Part

  • RSVPicky – You’re going to receive holiday get together invites from seemingly everyone you’ve talked to this year. Don’t feel obligated to attend all! Over-committing is a stress on you both mentally and physically so weed out those you aren’t excited about and don’t have to attend (work invites may not be exciting, but could be necessary).

  • Don’t Be A Survivor – Starving yourself during the day for the party at night will end up backfiring. Don’t arrive hungry or you’ll eat things you normally wouldn’t be tempted by. Instead, eat like you would during any day, making healthy swaps where possible, and have a satisfying snack an hour or so before you head out. It’s like going to the grocery after lunch Vs. before dinner.
  • Dress For Success – Wear something you feel confident in. It’s a small thing, but feeling good about how you look will lift your self-esteem and help you turn down comfort foods you may turn to otherwise.
  • Water Into Wine – There’s nothing wrong with enjoying cocktails, but skip the chain-drinking and have water in between. Your inhibitions will stay intact (at least longer!) and you’ll cut your calories in half.
  • Eye On The Prize – Buffet style holiday parties are the norm, and your plate can fill up FAST even getting “just a little bit” of everything. Don’t waste precious plate and stomach space on things that don’t really excite you. If you’ve been thinking about green bean casserole since Halloween, opt for that and skip the grocery store rolls and white rice you could care less about.
  • Be A Chatty Cathy – Make your social events social. Focusing on catching up with friends and family and enjoying their company shifts your thoughts from food to fun, and if you’re busy talking you won’t be mindlessly eating.
  • No Means No – Food pushers are out in full force this time of year, but don’t let your guard down! It’s great that Mary from accounting went to a cookie exchange over the weekend, but you aren’t responsible for eating her take aways. Aunt Emily may try to force her famous-but-really-out-of-a-box brownies on you, but you don’t have to eat one in front of her. Tell them thanks and that you’ll grab one later (even if you don’t)!
  • Make a Naughty Dish Nice – Bringing a healthy dish is the ideal way to ensure there’s at least one good option on the spread, but no one wants to be the girl who brings celery to a holiday party. Find a holiday dish recipe that’s had a makeover and no one will know they aren’t stuffing down calories along with their stuffing! Cooking Light, Skinnytaste, and Eating Well are just a few of many healthy recipe sites.
  • Be Merry and Mindful – Chew slowly and savor your food, especially the special treats. Instead of eating quickly and getting back to the conversation, enjoy a few bites, then enjoy your company and go back to finish. Use a plate so you are aware of how much you started with, and there is no rush to eat since you aren’t holding food in your hand.

If you’d like more accountability this holiday season email me and let’s figure out a plan together!


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