The holidays are approaching and you know what that means - lots of food and drinks! Your healthy habits can easily fall by the wayside. But staying on track with your wellness goals doesn't mean missing out on the festive fun. This season, you can have your fruitcake and eat it too.
With a balanced mindset, you'll breeze through the holidays feeling energized and ready to ring in the New Year with confidence. The season of excess doesn't have to mean sacrificing your health. Follow these tips and actually enjoy this time of year.
Plan Ahead for Healthy Holiday Eating
The key to staying on track this season is planning. Make a list of events you'll attend and meals you'll share with friends and family. Then, think about strategies to avoid overindulging.
Stock up on healthy snacks like nuts, fresh or dried fruit, Greek yogurt and veggie sticks to have on hand for impromptu celebrations or drop-ins. Choose a few go-to appetizers, sides and desserts you can make in advance that won’t derail your healthy eating goals. Things like a cheese board, brussels sprout salad or fruit crumble.
When attending dinners, focus on lean proteins, lots of veggies, and whole grains. Go for seconds of the lighter options. Pass on high-calorie fare like buttery mashed potatoes, creamy pasta dishes or fatty meats. Fill up on salad or soup first.
For treats, have a bite or two of your favorites and skip the rest. Or bring a dish you can share that you know fits your needs. Don't feel pressured to eat everything in sight just because it's a special occasion. Your health is the best gift you can give yourself this season.
The holidays don't have to mean completely derailing your healthy habits. With some planning and smart choices, you can enjoy the season and start the New Year feeling good. Success is as simple as that.
Strategies to Avoid Overindulging
The holidays are filled with delicious food and drinks, but that doesn't mean you have to overindulge. Here are some strategies to avoid packing on the pounds this season:
Eat before events
Have a healthy snack like a protein shake or granola bar before heading out to holiday parties or dinners. You'll feel more satisfied and be less likely to overeat or make unhealthy choices when you get there.
Survey your options
Don't arrive starving. Take time to survey all the options, then choose a few special treats to enjoy in moderation. Fill up the rest of your plate with lighter fare like fresh veggies, cheese and crackers, or shrimp cocktail.
Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
Limit high-calorie cocktails and beer by alternating with water or a diet soda. Not only will this cut down on extra calories, but it will also prevent you from drinking too much, which lowers inhibitions and self-control.
Exercise is key. Go for a walk or jog, do an at-home workout, or just get outside for some fresh air and movement. Being active will boost your metabolism and burn off some of the extra calories you've consumed. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help.
The holidays only come once a year, so enjoy yourself - just do it in moderation. Follow these helpful hints, stick to your normal routine as much as possible, and stay committed to your health goals.
Keep Up Your Exercise Routine
Staying active during this time is key to maintaining your health and starting the new year off right. Here are some tips to keep up your exercise over the holidays:
- Stick to a schedule. Try to exercise at the same time each day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Wake up a bit earlier to fit in a quick home workout or go for a walk around the neighborhood. Having a set schedule will make you more likely to stick with it.
- Do bodyweight exercises. You don’t need equipment to get a good workout. Do pushups, squats, lunges, sit-ups, and planks right in your living room. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps of each exercise. These types of workouts are easy to do anywhere, so no excuses!
- Go for walks. Walking is a great form of exercise that can fit into even the busiest of schedules. Get outside for a stroll around the block, through a park, or at a local track. Invite family and friends to join you and make it a social activity. A 30-minute walk can burn around 150 calories.
- Try online workout videos. There are tons of free workout videos on YouTube and other streaming services. Pop in a 20-30 minute HIIT, yoga, or strength training video and get your sweat on right at home. No equipment required for many videos.
- Stay hydrated and stretch. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during exercise and make stretching a priority. Dehydration and tight muscles can sap your motivation and energy level. Take time to stretch your major muscle groups, especially after any intense activity.
Keeping up with your exercise routine over the holidays may require some extra effort and planning, but your body and mind will thank you. Staying active will help combat weight gain, reduce stress, boost your mood, and ensure you start the new year on the right foot.
Hydrate and Get Plenty of Rest
Drink plenty of water and unsweetened beverages to avoid dehydration and flush toxins from your system. Most experts recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses per day. Fruit-infused water or herbal tea are great options if you want some flavor. Staying hydrated will boost your energy levels and help your body function properly.
Get Plenty of Rest
Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to allow your body and mind to recharge. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. If you have trouble falling asleep, try relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or a warm bath before bed. Limit screen time, caffeine and exercise in the evening so your body can start to unwind.
Don't feel guilty about saying "no" to some invites in favor of downtime. It's important to avoid burnout and allow yourself time for routines like light exercise, journaling, or whatever helps you de-stress. Make your health a priority so you can truly enjoy the holidays.
Taking good care of yourself with the basics like drinking water and getting adequate rest will help boost your energy levels and keep your stress in check this season. Be kind to yourself and listen to your body's needs - you'll be happy you did!
Allow Yourself to Enjoy Favorite Holiday Treats
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, so don’t feel guilty indulging in some of your favorite seasonal treats in moderation. Depriving yourself of holiday goodies can often lead to feelings of resentment and the urge to overindulge later. Have a few bites of grandma’s famous apple pie or a couple cookies from the holiday cookie swap. Savor each bite and be mindful of what you’re eating instead of mindlessly munching while doing other tasks.
Portion control is key
When indulging, practice portion control. Have one slice of pie instead of two, or share dessert with others. Pick and choose a few select treats to enjoy over the entire season instead of trying to eat everything in sight. It’s also a good idea to continue exercising over the holidays to balance out extra snacking.
Drink plenty of water and choose nutrient-dense foods for your main meals like lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fill up on these before heading to a holiday party so you’re not starving when you arrive. Look for lighter options like a cheese platter, shrimp cocktail or veggie tray and keep nibbling on those. If you do want a cocktail, choose a lighter option with seltzer and citrus or a small glass of wine.
The holidays only come around once a year, so enjoy this special time with loved ones. Focus on togetherness and experiences over lavish feasts and excessive consumption of food and alcohol. Allow for balance - have one treat then get back to healthy habits until the next celebration.
So there you have it, a few tips to help you stay on track with your health goals this holiday season. Don't let the busyness and temptations get the best of you. Make time for self-care, stick to a routine as much as possible, and be flexible when needed. Focus on nutritious whole foods, watch your portions, stay hydrated, and keep exercising. Most of all, remember why you started this journey to better health in the first place. You've worked hard all year, so continue to choose what's right for you even when it's difficult. Before you know it, the new year will be here and you'll feel great knowing you made the choices that support your wellbeing during the holidays and beyond. The holidays will be over in a flash, but the benefits of your healthy habits will last all year through.
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