Tips for Staying on Track and Healthy during the Holidays

We are quickly approaching Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season including New Years.  It is a magical time of year.  However, staying on track with your health goals is not magic.  It takes planning ahead of time and dedication.  I love celebrating with family and friends.  I just want to make sure I do so in a responsible manner so that all of my hard work does not go down the drain.  I have had holidays that I regretted in January.  I would gain more weight in 6 weeks than I ever thought was possible.  Then it would take me months of getting back to eating healthy and working out to slowly get back to my pants fitting again.  My health is my top priority.  This includes not just my weight but more importantly how I feel.  I like to be full of energy and have as healthy of an immune system as possible in the winter months.  This list of tips for staying on track might not be fun.  But you might thank me in January when you feel amazing.

As with anything on my blog – do your research and decide what is best for you.

Exercise

  1. Maintain your workout schedule = This is a best effort type of situation.  I realize there will be less time and you might not get to the gym as much as normal.  A little bit is better than nothing at all.  It keeps you motivated and focused.  If the weather is horrible, I am not risking driving with ice and snow.  This is when I select an at home workout.  My personal favorite is Fitness Blender.  They have a large variety of cardio, body-weight and light weight exercises that are all free online.  If you have the space, you can also invest in yourself and add to your home gym.  Check out my previous blog posts on my picks for equipment for an at home gym as well as what I do for workouts at home.
  2. Utilize a fitness tracker = In yoga class, you state your intention you wish to focus on during your practice.  I see a similarity with wearing a fitness tracker everyday.  It acts as a physical reminder of my intention to make my self-care a priority.  It of course provides great data like heart rate and steps depending on which model you select.  The selection process can be a challenge.  You want a fitness helper that does not become cumbersome on your wrist.  I wear mine all day and night.  I like to track my steps, minutes working out and sleep patterns.  I have a heart rate monitor but really do not pay much attention to it and sometimes even turn it off via the phone app.  I purchased a Fitbit Alta HR and I like the size but I would never say that I forget that I have it on.  I am listing below a very well-done and detailed article which reviewed multiple fitness trackers.  I really wish I knew about it before I purchased my unit.  I would purchase a Fitbit brand again though since I really like the cell phone application and that my friends use it so I can send challenges to them.  I appreciate articles which give tons of background and user experiences.  They are much more useful than simply reading reviews on Amazon.  Thanks to those who put this article together.  I might be asking for a new device this holiday season.  It is worth the time to read if you are interested in purchasing a fitness tracker for yourself or to give as a gift.

Stress Mgmt

  1. Reduce your stress level with some self-care = Easier said than done but it is extremely important.  You could be doing everything correctly – healthy meals, regular workouts.  But if your stress levels are out of control, your body will respond in negative ways.  It will hold onto the weight due to an influx in your cortisol levels.  You will want to eat more and crave those comfort foods full of unhealthy fat and sugar.  I have started doing yoga multiple times per week.  I have also taken the pressure of hosting a family gathering off of my list for this year.  I am relaxing and enjoying a very quiet month.  Focusing on taking care of myself and my mental well-being is the way I reduce my stress.  I meditate via a free app on my phone called Headspace.  It is only 5 minutes per day.  At first I was reluctant and uncomfortable with the thought of mediating.  However, it is a nice break and often I feel inspired to journal my thoughts afterwards.  Between that and yoga, I also feel more creative.  Maybe that is why the length of my blogs is getting longer!
  2. Remembering ones we lost is difficult = Yes the holiday season can be a joyous time of year.  Unfortunately they can also bring up some sorrowful feelings of missing loved ones who have passed on.  Maybe since they are not part of our lives anymore, the holidays feel different or empty.  Allowing yourself a moment to remember them is important.  There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to cry and feel your feelings.  Maybe dedicate an ornament on your tree or place a photo on display in your home is a nice way to honor them.
  3. Be kind to yourself and realistic of your goals = I personally do not expect to lose any weight during the holiday season.  I focus on maintaining as much as possible.  I feel like it is a reasonable goal to set for myself.  If you are a planner like me, you might find it helpful to write out your goals for the holiday season.  Seeing them on paper makes it a more solid commitment.

Healthy Eating 

  1. Wait 20 minutes before loading up a second plate = It is super easy to get excited and over eat during large holiday dinners.  The food is amazing and much more than we normally have during our regular weekly dinners.  However, make sure you give your brain and stomach a chance to communicate before loading up a second helping.  It takes at least 20 minutes for the brain and stomach to register the feeling of fullness.  I personally hate the feeling after eating too much from a meal.  My pants get too tight and my back hurts.  I would rather slow down and pace myself and not be in pain later.
  2. Do NOT stock goodies in your house = This is something that I follow year round.  If you know that you over indulge easily on cookies, candy and cake…then do not have them in your house.  If you are at a party that has them out or someone brings treats into your workplace, then have a couple there.  Save any treats for outside of the home.  Then you can have dessert without any guilt since you are not doubling up on the sugar both in and out of the home.
  3. Tea time = I like to drink tons of tea during the winter.  I like the organic blends of the Yogi brand teas.  I drink tea instead of hot apple cider and hot chocolate.  My favorite flavor is the Cinnamon Berry Probiotic.  I also like their Cold Season teas since it makes me feel like I am taking care of my immune system.
  4. Eat something before heading to a party = Yes I actually do this!  I will either eat an apple or some oatmeal.  Something to fill me up a bit.  That way I am not starving before arriving at a party that normally does not have the type of food I would consider “healthy”.  I found this especially important when I had after work functions.  They were normally held at a bar and the food was just greasy appetizers.
  5. Drink responsibly = I love my red wine but I limit my intake.  I not only want to maintain my level-head and treat my liver well, but also limit the intake of empty alcohol calories.  Two glasses and I call it a night.  I sip them slowly, swirl my glass and enjoy.

From my family to yours, I wish you tons of love, health and happiness this holiday season!