Sure, it may be the the most wonderful time of the year but for many of us, it also happens to be the most tempting. We know how easy it can be to blow a year's worth of good habits, healthy progress and hard-earned workouts over the holidays, so here are a few tips to help keep you on track, while still enjoying yourself!
The kids are off school, work schedules change, office parties abound, family visits ensue... The festivities seem endless and all together do a good job of sabotaging your normal routine. Instead of fighting it, go with the flow! Healthy holidays are possible, but do take a conscious effort to make smart food and exercise choices during the season of sugar cookies and hot chocolate. Stay healthy during the holidays by being proactive in planning a healthy holiday for you and your family. Here are three easy ways to build healthy holiday habits.
3 Tips for Planning A Healthy Holiday
1. Alcohol in Moderation
Holiday cheer in the form of alcoholic cocktails is a seasonal ambush filled with empty calories that can easily sabotage your healthy eating plan. Parties, special events and family gatherings often call for festive seasonal cocktails such as a rich and creamy eggnog. Holiday drinking can be hard on your health and on your workouts – who wants to get up for an early workout after a night of liquid cheer? Instead, start some new holiday drinking habits this year:
• Water down your drinks: ask for extra ice in your glass or at the table or top off a glass of wine with some sparkling water.
• Alternate cocktails with two glasses of water. Many people routinely alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water to keep the alcohol under control. During the holidays try alternating your cocktail with two glasses of water instead – you'll feel full and cut down on the calories.
• Choose low-calorie cocktails. A mug of eggnog with rum can easily top 500 calories but that doesn't have to mean you have to miss out. Hot mulled wine is another festive seasonal cocktail but only has 115 calories, while a pomegranate martini (hello, delish!) has only 111 calories! Check out the 15 Best Low Calorie Cocktails from Glamour Magazine.
Instead of feeling cocktail deprived during the holidays and risking an all-out binge to compensate, plan ahead with some smart alcohol strategies to enjoy the holiday cheer.
2. Workout Whenever, However
There's no question the holidays disrupt your daily schedule, even if it's in a good way. Instead of forgoing your fitness routine, change it up! A little advance planning can help you get your exercise in and still enjoy the season.
• Plan family holiday activities such as bowling, 5K runs, ice skating, neighborhood walks to view the holiday decorations and other activities that get the whole family active while you sneak in your exercise.
• Less is definitely better than none! If you can't fit in your normal fitness routine during the holiday season, try squeezing in some mini-workouts throughout your day. Fitness snacking has nothing to do with eating, and everything to do with doing several small bursts of exercise.
UK trainer Matt Roberts, whose clients include Naomi Campbell and Tom Ford, says: “Fitness snacking involves short periods of exercise dotted throughout the day, rather than doing it all in one go. Keep a tally in your head. I've walked the dog, that's two points. I went for a 20-minute walk at lunchtime, that's another two points.”
• Most people have extra days off from work during the holidays. Take advantage of your days off. While friends and family are still asleep, start the day early with an extra long, intense workout. If you normally do a 3-mile run on Saturday morning, on your bonus day off plan an early 5-mile run so you get a jump-start on the week's workouts and won't feel guilty if something comes up later in the week that causes you to miss a workout.
3. Eat Smart But Don't Deprive
There's no question the holidays are filled with sinfully delicious temptations. Even people without a sweet tooth are enticed by the smells and sights of holiday treats.
• Skip the baking this year. Many of us don't find time to bake during the year but during the hectic holidays we feel obligated to break out the measuring spoons and mixer and start our annual baking spree – and taste while we bake! Be kind to yourself: this year skip making the sugary treats, or at least reduce your baking by 50 per cent.
• Go heavy on the fruit and vegetables when planning your holiday meals. Instead of making a cheese and bread tray to snack on, make half your platter grapes, apples and pears. Rather than two vegetable dishes and three or four desserts on your buffet, make four vegetable dishes and cut back to one or two desserts. Put big bowls of fruit and nuts on the table during dessert and coffee to encourage people to make healthy choices while they chat, instead of picking at another slice of pie or cake or grabbing another chocolate.
• Sip water while you eat a meal during the holidays to appreciate the flavor of the food and not mindlessly drink wine or sodas. Holiday events where your wine glass is constantly refilled makes it too easy to overindulge without thinking, and most people eat less and drink more alcohol. By drinking water with your meal, you're more in control of what you eat.
If you plan ahead it's possible to eat well and exercise during the holidays, without missing out on the festive fun. But if you do overindulge a bit or skip a workout, don't be too hard on yourself. Remember, it's all about progress, not perfection and doing what works best for your life. Enjoy!
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