The holiday season, for many, can be one of the hardest times when it comes to staying healthy. Tons of food, tummy-masking layers, and cold weather can all contribute to a downward slump in your healthy lifestyle. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way! By following a few simple tips, you can be well on your way to your healthiest and happiest holiday season yet.
1. Get your beauty sleep
This is not the time for midnight pie baking or an all-night gift-wrapping marathon. You need to get your rest and I’m talking 8 hours, minimum. There is no way you can deal with culinary disasters or opinionated relatives if you’re sleep deprived. Also, when you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones get all out of wack, making you less than pleasant to be around and hungrier.
2. Deal with stress
What is supposed to be a happy time can quickly turn to a stressful one, especially if you’re playing host to this year’s festivities. Don’t push those feelings down and let them eat you alive. You’ve got to find a healthy way to manage your stress so you can enjoy this time with your family and friends. For some, it might be taking a walk. For others, yoga or meditation may be the answer. Even just a few deep breaths might do the trick. There’s no right or wrong. Just figure out what works for you and then do it!
3. Work out at home
Many of us have trouble maintaining our workout routine once the weather turns cold. Outdoor exercise becomes almost unbearable and even getting to the gym seems increasingly difficult. However, at-home workouts can be just as effective, and often times little equipment is required. With at home exercise plans like P90X and Turbo Fire or individual DVDs from the celebrity trainers including Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, you can get your butt kicked in the comfort of your living room.
4. Bring your own dish
If you’re attending a holiday party or get-together, offer to bring something! This assures that you have a healthy dish to fall back on if the offerings are a little too decadent or you’re ravenous. That way, you can fill up your healthier alternative and save the richer foods offered as a treat.
5. Eat normally, don’t starve yourself
Some people think that if they severely restrict their calories (or don’t eat at all) on the day of a holiday event they will save calories for the big meal that is coming. This thinking is flawed however because this is not only unhealthy, but it can lead to over-eating later. If you you show up with a grumbling stomach the food may even taste better and it could take more food to fill you up. Instead, eat a normal, healthy diet so that you can make conscious food choices at the event, rather than allowing your extreme hunger to take control.
6. No deprivation, no gluttony
Being healthy is about a lifestyle and one or two days a year is not going to make or break you. With that said, this is not a free for all. Don’t stuff yourself until you’re about to burst or eat so many sweets you feel sick. Allow yourself to have some of your favorite treats and really enjoy and savor them. Mindlessly shoveling food into your mouth is not the answer. And remember, if you over-do it today you can make a different choice tomorrow. Don’t allow one bad day turn into a bad week, a bad month, or a bad year. It’s never about perfection and each day is your chance to choose your health destiny.
7. Put away leftovers
I can’t tell you how many times I have eaten well at a holiday meal, only to be sabotaged by leftovers. Once the meal is over, get that food in the fridge. It’s so easy to linger around the buffet or sneak back into the dining room for a bite of this and a bite of that. Before you know it, all that picking has turned into a second meal! Also, getting your body moving after you eat will get your digestion going and help prevent a food coma.
8. Remember what really matters
While much of our time during the holidays is spent obsessing over that perfect gift or a flawless meal, remember that all of those superficial things are not what this time of year is about. In the end, that special time with your family and friends is what really matters. Instead of making food the center of your celebration, shift the focus to those precious moments. A change in perspective can make all the difference.