Life is a constant balancing act. It can feel like more of a circus as the holidays roll around. Juggling family, work, financial, and social obligations seems just a little bit harder. And suddenly those holiday cookies seem just a little bit more tempting. Our diets and gym regiments are often the first things we sacrifice for the sake of being merry & bright.
How can we make it through the holidays and still feel healthy and light come the New Year?
Stick to a Fitness Routine
If you have a normal work out routine, keep it up. If you have been letting your exercise regiment slide all year, now is the time to get back into it. Set up a calendar, penciling in 45 minutes to one hour workouts a day. If you do not have time to make it to the gym or a fitness class, schedule an afternoon walk in the neighborhood or a morning date with a fitness DVD. If you know you need someone else you help hold you accountable, give yourself and your body and early present by signing up for a group fitness or yoga class or buy a few sessions with a personal trainer. Aim to find a way to move your body six days of the week. If you have to occasionally miss a session because of a party or event, don’t stress. The benefit of regular exercise will give you extra energy and help offset the holiday excess. Come January, your body will already be adapted to a routine and when you get back to normalcy (no more pumpkin pies or spiked eggnog), you will see the results that much faster.
Be a Picky Guest
Studies have shown that healthy eaters tend to be a little snobbier in their choices. When you arrive at a party or holiday buffet, survey all your options before you make a plate. Figure out what you want to hone in on what is worth the splurge and what you can skip. Have a small veggie and protein-rich meal at home before you arrive so that hunger is not driving your decisions. Your best bet is to skip the appetizers altogether which are often high in calories but short in nutrition. At dinner parties, volunteer to help clear the plates and do the dishes, your hosts will be thankful and you will work off some extra calories. If you live near your hosts, bundle up and walk there and home for an extra health boost.
Don’t Let the Morning After Derail You
Most weight gain does not come from one late night or too many cocktails. It’s the poor decisions we make the next day when we are feeling lousy and only a hamburger and French fries can sooth us. If you over indulge, make sure you drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep and then get back on track with exercise and healthy eating. Don’t seek solace in the burger and fries.
Enjoy Your Desserts…In Three Bites
The holidays are when sugar plum fairies seem to dance all around us…at parties, family gatherings, school functions and office conference rooms. The average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar per year and December can feel like one long sugar high. It is unrealistic to think of skipping holiday desserts, but stick to the three-bite rule. After three bites your pleasure starts to decline, so go ahead and enjoy that incredible first bite, indulge in a satisfying second bite and let the flavors of your third bite linger as you set down your fork. Pass on the rest to share with friends or push your plate away from you and save your calories for your next yummy treat. Be choosy with desserts as well, a warm homemade apple pie and day-old store bought cookies are not created equal.
Keep Calm & Merry On
‘Tis the season for holiday crowds, long lines, traffic, family gatherings, financial burden, and endless cheer. Holiday stress can derail the best of us. Having a plan for when stress strikes can save your sanity this season. Close your eyes and count to 30, when you open your eyes focus first on your breathe and then on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness in traffic jams or the holiday mall rush, can help you stay calm during other stressful times, like squabble with family or friends. Practicing this same mindfulness as you eat can help you stay calm and avoid emotional eating.