How do you stay healthy during the holiday season?
Throughout the year I count calories, food journal every now and then, eyeball portion sizes and really do my best to keep to a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Holidays are full of family traditions and food, lots of food. In my experience when I try to keep things like normal I tend to have a lot of guilt and negative self-talk when I eat things I normally wouldn’t or if I don’t workout when I normally would. In working with people to help them get fit and then training them to do the same for others I have some mall tips that add up to big time calorie savers, a healthy holiday and a more enjoyable time with your loved ones focusing on what matters most—family!
Invite the whole family to meal plan for the week making a point to go for healthy options, crock pot meals and things you can make together. You can take turns cooking each night or make it a family affair and spend that time together. I love using the crock pot or healthy holiday soups for the season and use that time making holiday crafts and decorations. I always bring two bags of my Shakeology to share it with my family so we can all get our full days servings of fruits and veggies in and it makes meal planning a little easier, fills you up with healthy foods so you’re not as hungry, it’s more convenient and it tastes like a milkshake so you cut back on sweets.
When you eat more healthy the week of the holiday you will have more energy, you’ll be proud of yourself and you will relax and let yourself go a bit, if you choose, with little guilt knowing you are jumping right back on track.
Take a half portion. When something is too tempting to pass up, half what you would normally take. This usually satisfies your craving but if it doesn’t come back to it another time, we all know there are leftovers. And don’t skip meals, continue to eat every three hours you don’t binge eat when you do site down to a meal.
Be flexible and find ways to still exercise when out of your normal routine. I love squeezing every bit of family time I can get during the holidays so let go of your normal routine IF you are afraid you can’t keep up the pace. If there is a day you miss your workout, gather the family to play an active game, Wii Dance etc. If anything your abs will get a good workout from all of the laughs and good times. However, I help people get results with in-home fitness programs , like Turbo Fire, and many of those programs have short, intense workouts to get the job done fast so you can move on to family time. Invite someone to try it with you.
Most people often want to have a healthy holiday but just don’t know how. If you come with these three simple tips I guarantee they will follow your lead and be grateful that you showed them how to do make small, healthy changes fun.
Here’s to Healthy Holidays! You can do this!!
don't sweat the small stuff...up the vitamin c, try to make more healthy choices than not...i train for marathons & holidays make it a little difficult, but i do the best i can...i have a rule i made up for myself about fitness - i default to "10" - 10 sit-ups, 10 curls, 10 tricep presses, shoulder presses, squats - at least on these days i've done a little something. as far as running goes, i do my best to meet my goals - sometimes i have to include my children in my runs, sometimes i run on the treadmill, or sometimes i run late in the evening when hubs is home...
In my house, the holidays are like all of the other days of the year - busy and hectic. But they also tend to come with a little bit more to do than usual and higher calories treats, which can make staying healthy that much more of a challenge. The best way to face this challenge is to keep things the same as much as you can.
For me, this means that working out (running or cycling) is still a planned activity. During holidays, I tend to get my fitness on early in the day so that it is done and I don't have to worry about something else taking over.
Meals are planned, as are snacks. Let's face it: if a plate of cookies is left out to eat whenever I feel like one, they are going to disappear. I try to decide what snacks I want during the day and when I'm going to enjoy them.
When something new is put in front of me to eat, I'll usually try it (assuming it is lactose-free, which is a great excuse to stay away from a lot of fatty foods during the holidays) without worrying or feeling guilty about it. If I do, though, I'll cut back on something else or work out a bit more the next day.
And, finally, I try to eat as I normally do. I don't eat a huge meal "just because it's Thanksgiving or Christmas". Instead, my proportions usually end up being the same.
My favorite way of staying healthy: plan a race for the morning after a large family meal. It's so much easier to stay away from the second helping when you know you have to run 10 miles the next day.
The Holiday season is defined by great food and festivities. We should enjoy it. For me I find that it is fun to "try" things. Rather than engulfing a serving of high calorie dessert I do bite size pieces. I will get a dessert plate and put a tablespoon of 3 or 4 different holiday goodies on it. I always eat the healthy stuff first so I am not "craving" something sweet and over indulge.
Getting a workout in can be difficult with the hustle and bustle of extra errands and activities. I may not get in a full hour but something is always better than nothing. When you train your body your mind wants to follow therefore eating excessive calories is often not a nagging desire. So get a few work outs in and enjoy the Holiday festivities to!
Holidays are a time to celebrate, but it doesn't mean you have to throw your health out the window with the crinkled wrapping paper. One thing that helps is that age-old mantra of "everything in moderation." If I know I'm going to a party, I will try to cut back on sweets and salt earlier in the day and up the veggies and fruit. A quick snack of protein, like a stick of string cheese, before venturing out to parties or shopping can also help curb binging. And if I do go hog wild on Christmas day with candy and pie? I try not to beat myself up about it and jump back on the healthy train the next day.
As for exercise, I take it indoors, relying on cardio and strength-training DVD's, and will bring them along with me when traveling to see family. Most cable companies also have a large range of classes on demand that you can. Keeping active can help fend off usual winter colds. And lots of water can help flush things out and keep your skin from getting too dry!
As moms, we all love the holidays for the beauty and bounty they bring into our lives, but that bounty often turns up on our hips! Sometimes we feel like we have to say no to all the treats or avoid parties altogether to stay healthy during the holidays, but you don't have to grovel with your granola bar at this year's parties. Enjoy goodies without gaining by giving yourself the gift of sticking by these three simple goals...
First, set your servings. A serving is basically the size of a small child's fist. How many servings will you allow yourself? Start with five servings. You could pick five different things, and have one serving of each, or you could eat five servings of your favorite thing. Then have the willpower to stop.
Second, do a festive flip with your food! Switch the bad out and substitute the good into all the things you love! Use 1/3-less fat cream cheese instead of the full-fat version. Trade a cup of whole-grain flour for the bleached white kind. Use a little grapeseed oil to grease your pans instead of butter. Chop some cancer-fighting Kale into that salad! Look for ways to sneak stored sunshine and nutrition into all your holiday meals, and your families' health will thank you!
Third, only buy presents for your family that will get them healthy and moving. If you plan to purchase video games, buy ones that get people dancing or boxing. If you are going to buy a toy, buy one that gets kids jumping and twisting. If you have to put together a basket, fill it with whole-grain, organic goodness. Read more in my related post about healthy gifts for kids.
I maintain my regular fitness routine and don't go overboard at the dinner table. I whole heartedly agree that we should allow ourselves some indulgences but also understand that a little can go a long way.
As a triathlete, this time of year is typically my off-season. With that, I don't have as much structure as I would most of the year. This can be good and bad: I have the freedom to something other than swim, bike, and run, yet I don't have the accountability to get workouts in. Like most people, I eat a little more over the holidays, but I also ensure I am consistent about getting some exercise in. To help, I don't try to get the best parking spots. I just park further away so I can walk, plus I don't waste time circling lots and therefore getting stressed. Opting for stairs over an elevator or escalator can burn off some of those extra calories with the additional time at the mall. Lastly, I give away most leftovers so I'm not grazing over them for days at a time.
My website is fitchicktricks.com, so here are my 7 favorite tips for fit chicks to follow.
1. Fit chicks don’t skip meals to “save” calories for a party. If you do this, you are more likely to eat everything in sight once you arrive, as you are starving.
2. Fit chicks wear snug clothes to any type of holiday gathering. Trust me, you are way less likely to overeat if your clothes are snug. First of all it is uncomfortable, and second of all it is a constant reminder to watch your portions.
3. Fit chicks keep one hand busy at holiday gatherings (some of you can get your mind out of the gutter). While you are standing around, hold a drink in your dominant hand. This makes it harder to grab food.
4. Fit chicks cut back on the “extras” if they really don’t add too much enjoyment. You decide what that can be for you. Butter, whipped cream, gravy, mayo, dip.
5. Fit chicks skip the everyday stuff. Don’t waste your calories on food that you can eat every day. Indulge in the egg nog or pumpkin pie… the foods that you may only see once a year.
6. Fit chicks alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic beverages (like a ZERO CALORIE seltzer water – also see trick #3 above)
7. Fit chicks pop a piece of gum in their mouth and wait around 30 minutes before jumping right into the buffet line. This gives you time to strategize and be very mindful about your choices and figure out trade offs and compromises.
Planning is key to staying healthy, especially during the holidays. As for me, I will continue to train and eat clean throughout all the days - even on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I will enjoy social events however, I will focus on what my body needs - fuel, not junk or sugar. I will make healthy choices in my food in order to continue bliss in my body. I will continue to train as it is key to my health, bringing down my stress (which we all know can double with holidays, in-laws, etc), keeping my weight in balance and keeping me focused in the reality.
Setting goals (such as a post holiday event) is a great way to stay on track and not get derailed with all the holiday festivities which affect our digestion, our weight and our overall health - signing up for a spartan race, muddy buddy or even a 10K will help most people survive the holidays and remain healthy and stressfree.
Stay on the clean eat/paleo lifestyle I already have. Enjoy small amounts of treats, run more.
I approach the holidays the same way I approach living, by trying to balance everything out. This is the time for once a year treats, such as christmas cookies or eggnog. I let myself have a bite or two of something that I really, really want, and skip the rest. But that also means watching what I eat the entire day, with a healthy breakfast and lunch, so that I don't go overboard at a dinner or party. I also try to fit in exercise every single day, but sometimes that means lots of walking and carrying shopping bags while at the mall. Find a race that you can train for, such as a Thanksgiving Turkety Trot (one of my favorites) or a Jingle Ball 10k, and you will automatically be moving!
For me staying healthy during the holidays is more than just eating well and exercising. It is about staying sane and not driving myself crazy with stress or to the point of absolute exhaustion. There are so many festivities and extra "to dos" on top of normal life stuff which can cause a lot of stress. The less stressed I am, the less likely I am to face plant into a vat of homemade caramel corn.
Here are a few ways I combat stress during the holidays:
I demand some "ME" time. It isn't always easy to carve out the time, but even 10 minutes makes a huge difference. That time can be spent doing just anything from working out to sitting and reading a book. For me, I spend my me time doing yoga or I meet up with my girlfriend for coffee very early in the morning while our families are still sleeping. Sometimes we are full of conversation and other times we quietly sit and sip our morning java. For me it is a great way to regroup before I start the day.
Saying NO. It is hard word to learn but a very necessary one to maintain some level of sanity. I would love to volunteer for every event and go to every party but there are only 24 hours in a day.
Outsource. Again, I love doing most of the holiday things but I still have to work, get my kids to school, and work around our activity schedule. These are some of the ways I outsource: I ditch baking and buy sugar cookies to have the kids decorate them (semi-homemade). I utilize the store gift wrap service. I shop online (having them shipped to a friends house is a good way hide presents too!).
Exercise. Nothing melts stress like a good endorphin rush. This is especially helpful when the in laws drive you crazy!!! (kidding)
Count my blessings. It is an instant mood lifter for me to reflect on all of the things I am thankful for in my life rather than stressing about the little things that in the end, do not matter.
The holiday rush will be upon my family, soon. My children are already creating wishlists. It's a whirlwind of visits with family and friends, shopping marathons, social functions, giving, decorating, baking, partying, etc., etc. It's all good. As long as …
- Starbucks keeps those gingerbread lattes at the ready. I believe in moderation, not deprivation. I love to eat, drink and be merry. So, I do. But, I also pay attention to portion size as well as calories, fat, sugar and nutrients.
- My expectations are realistic. I no longer cram my personal or family calendar with holiday activities. We make time for those events and outings that are truly special and meaningful. That way, I enjoy the season and savor the moments watching my children revel in the holiday magic. If we miss something, I don’t fret.
- Negative energy has an outlet. Exercising is my number one way to de-stress. Just 30 minutes on my elliptical provides a way to sweat out anger, frustration, sadness, confusion and anxiety.
- Priorities are in check. I know it’s a busy time of year. Will my children really care if I don’t get around to baking eight different kinds of cookies? Do neighbors really care if my house is decorated to look like a replica from Whoville?
- I have fun. Time with family and friends during the holiday season goes fast. To me, it’s the fun that everyone remembers; and it’s the basis for establishing lovely traditions.
My town has a marathon the first Sunday of December. I run it every year. It has turned into a family tradition now where the hubby and kids come out to cheer me on and have breakfast while I run 26.2 miles. It is difficult however to continue training for it once we start losing daylight and this year I am battling that more than ever (just had baby #2 four months ago). Regardless, I know how much my daughter enjoys watching me run and cheering for me that I want to continue being a role model for her and finishing what I set out to do. It makes the rest of December more enjoyable too knowing I ran a marathon.
Moderation! I believe in moderation for most things and I don't think that ends during the holiday season. Also, with twin toddler boys I'm encouraged to always be moving (running back and forth trying to keep up with them at the Pumpkin for example). I think movement is key - working out helps de-stress which for me is key when transitioning from work to mommy time. Working out also helps with moderation - if you're moving your body and continuing healthy habits, you're more likely to put good things into your body.
Don't make excuses: "I don't have time during the holidays." "I am too tired." "I need to relax during the holidays." "I'll start again after New Years." "I'll make up for it."
Be true to yourself and the healthy lifestyle you are choosing! Sure you can have a piece of pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner, but don't eat more than a slice. Make your favorite foods healthier with whole grains, substituting yogurt for mayo or sour cream, bring a healthy appetizer to share, and keep your exercise routine in check.
Last year I signed up for a half-marathon in January to stay motivated through the holidays and to keep on track during the cold MN winter. It wasn't always easy to get out in sub-zero temperatures to go running, but I never regretted it when I got home.
Don't make exceptions. Be the exception! You are worth it!
I wrote a blog post about this last year. Here it is:
Plan ahead to avoid holiday weight gain.
Holiday get togethers typically equal cookies, cakes, and pies galore! Not to mention all the high calorie appetizers and unlimited drinks. Due to these factors, the majority of people experience a holiday weight gain of 3-5 pounds.
"Oh yum!!! Pie is my weakness!!! Don't even try to tell me "a moment on the lips forever on the hips..." - I am NOT buying it! Hey now, I am in Pittsburgh; This is easily hidden by jeans, boots, and big sweaters, right?
Oh wait...did you just say that it's not going to be Winter forever?!?!?!? Oh crap! Maybe I should learn how to avoid this pitfall.
Planning ahead is essential when it comes to attending holiday functions.
1. DO NOT starve yourself before a party, thinking that you will just eat your calories for the day there rather than eating at home. You have no idea of the calorie count or nutritional information for the food at that function. Instead, eat a regular meal at home and when arrive, if you are still hungry, you can fill your plate with 2/3 fresh veggies and then use the other 1/3 of your plate for super small portion of the "must have" appetizers.
2. Drink plenty of water. It is easy to mistake the feeling of thirst for being hungry. Water will help to fill you up so you won't want to eat that extra slice of cheesecake.
3. Keep a small notebook in your purse or pocket and write down the food as or before you consume it. It's amazing how much mindless eating you can do if you don't watch yourself. As a side note, I have my husband trained to say "Do you want your notebook?" or "Are you going to write that down?" if he notices me eating more than normal. Sometimes that does upset me initially but in the end, I am grateful to have someone else on my side during a tempting situation.
Here is a link to my blog:
I like to sign up for a winter race- like a half marathon in January, February or March. This helps keep me motivated to get out and run! Getting that run in makes me feel less guilty when I succumb to the holiday treats that will inevitably be everywhere! When it comes to holiday eating, I try to put a bunch of veggies/salad on my plate first so there is less room for the less healthy options. I believe in indulging a little during the holidays, since it is a season joy. A good Christmas cookie after a long run brings me joy!
I cut myself some slack. That doesn't mean I go crazy not exercising and eating like crazy, but I don't stress when I do. Somehow being able to do what I want helps me make healthier choices. I do try to up my exercise and have often joined some end of the year exercise challenges. In addition to that, on normal days, I try to stay with my usual healthy choices. It may *feel* like every day is a party during the holiday season, but usually for us there are only 4-5 days that are truly a big social event. Reminding myself that just because someone made brownies does not make it a holiday party goes a long ways towards sane eating during the holidays.
Staying healthy and fit during the holidays is only hard if you make it hard. Too many people think that the holidays give them the perfect excuse to eat poorly and skip workouts. Don't let yourself off the hook.
Stay on track with your fitness. Plan out a workout or training schedule that takes you from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day and stick to it.
Don't deprive yourself. This is the time of the year to ENJOY those heavenly foods like pumpkin pie and stuffing. But, control yourself. Just because the stuffing is in front of you doesn't mean you have to stuff your face with it or finish every morsel on your plate.
The bottom line is, no one would question of you stopped exercsing and stopped eating healthily during the holidays. It's almost expected. If you want to stay on track, YOU have to make it happen. YOU have to hold yourself accountable. It starts with YOU. No excuses. Take control.
I try to keep my exercise routine on schedule, missing out is not helpful.
Smaller portions of those big meals. You can still enjoy everything but just a bite of each delish dish.
I try to bake myself instead of buying processed stuff. At least when I bite into that cookie, I know every ingredient in it.
I continue to train as if it's any other day. What I do is choose healthier ingredients and substitute them for the fattening ones originally used. That way I can still cook my fave foods but it's a healthier version. I also stick to one plate of food. I also continue my regimen. If you're going to someone's house and you know they're not making anything healthy, then eat before you go. That way you don't overeat.
I stay healthy during the holiday season by sticking to my normal eating most of the time and reserving my indulgences for fun get togethers! Part of the joy of eating (especially treats) is sharing with people in a joyful setting. On top of this I DO NOT under any circumstances keep the treats IN MY HOUSE! This is key. If I am going to a party and am bringing treats with me I prepare them, at max, the day before to make sure I don't snack on them in the days leading up to the event. I leave left overs with the host. And what happens when I'm the hostess? Brace yourself... I throw it out! Seriously. If I am going to be tempted to finish off a plate of deliciousness (aka brownies etc) ... I mean, not that I would, um, EVER do that... I just throw it in the trash. Stuffing it in my face for no apparent reason is much like throwing it in the garbage except that it sticks to my butt and thighs... Don't feel bad about doing this. If you just CAN'T bring yourself to throw it away package it up and either take it to work or donate it to a food bank.
As a runner I love the holiday season! You can find a fun local race to do just about ever month of the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. Sign up early to take advantage of cheaper race prices, and put it on the calendar before it gets pushed out by other holiday busyness. You'll be amazed how much more you can enjoy that thanksgiving dinner or Christmas turkey with a race under your belt! Don't forget to invite your friends and family to come train and race with you, or just cheer you on! It's a great time to get together with people you don't see often or who are traveling from out of town. And if you are the one traveling, no worries! There is probably a race where you're headed, and sign up for that!