On the flip side, I also believe self control, self control, self control!! If you indulge too much, it’s going to be really hard to get yourself back on track after the holidays end!
Your Holiday Fitness Survival Guide
Here are my answers to some common questions about staying healthy during the holidays:
1) How can I avoid overeating?
Holidays are a time of gastronomic indulgence, there is no doubt about that. To avoid going completely overboard:
- Be picky. Don’t eat something just for the sake of eating it, because you feel obligated, or because that food only comes around once a year.
- Wait. When you have finished a big dinner, sit for five minutes or so and drink a glass of water before getting up for a second plate of food. Chat and engage with others at the table. Are you REALLY that hungry that you need to get up three times? Another trick is to place your napkin on your plate when you finish your meal. This will help you avoid the temptation to fill your plate again.
- Go easy on the alcohol! Not only does alcohol pack on extra calories, it can disrupt your sleep and decrease your energy to work out. Try to drink extra water at gatherings and be selective about when you drink, how much, and what.
- Plan ahead to avoid traps. As our schedules get out of whack during the holiday season, being prepared and snack ahead of time will help you circumvent your brain’s impulse to binge. Keep your home and office stocked with good options. Eat a power snack – something with good fat, fiber, and protein – before you head to a gathering. Also, don’t skip breakfast even on big meal days!
- Say no – politely. Is it possible to graciously decline an offering of food? The reality is that your host worked really hard to make all that food and might be a little hurt if you say no. Stay strong and just be polite.
- Don’t stress. Guilt is just as unhealthy as those decadent desserts. Let yourself enjoy the holidays. Just remember that treats should be intentional. There is a time for treats and then a time for your regular healthy habits. Indulge a little and move on.
2) What are some healthy and delicious foods that I can make for gatherings or dinners?
- Stay fresh and simple. My strongest recommendation is to stick with real foods and recipes that are made from scratch. In many cases, typical holiday food isn’t the most nutritious. This is your chance, however, to make new traditions that are easier on the belly.
- Get fruity. Fruit is a great appetizer before a heavy meal! Try apple slices and cheese. It is also a much appreciated addition to a gathering with colleagues or friends. It is easy to prepare, portable, delicious, and healthy. A few options include pomegranate jewels, clementine sections, apple slices, grapes, etc.
3) How can I stay active during the holiday season?
- Be realistic. You are off your normal schedule and need to practice a little self-forgiveness during this time, but holidays are no excuse to stop moving completely. Try to at least get some activity, even if it isn’t your typical hard-core routine.
- Get creative. Being active can actually make holidays more fun! Go for lots of jogs, walks, or hikes. Enjoy the cold fresh air.
- Build a team. Sometimes it can be tough to motivate other people to get out and get active, so try to find something you enjoy and enjoyable for everyone. Chances are, someone else in your family or friend circle is also trying to stay on their fitness routine. Team up and get everyone else moving!
- Make new traditions. This could be your opportunity to make a new tradition so that your whole family incorporates movement into future gatherings. Find a local Turkey Trot to walk or run or how about a post-meal dance party?
- Be the Early Bird! If all else fails, you might be on your own to get active. Set your alarm early and just get a workout done before everyone else wakes up. You will feel better physically and mentally and not be anxious about missing your exercise.
Finally, when the holidays do end, be kind to yourself and re-introduce your routine slowly. You don’t want to get injured by going too hard right out of the gate!