The holidays seem to start earlier and earlier each year, and as soon as that first PSL drops at Starbucks it’s off to the holiday races for one and all! We all know what that means — candy at Halloween, pumpkin everything through October and November, and then onto the mac-daddy of them all, the Christmas season! No matter what or how you celebrate, your December is likely to be filled with cookies, cakes, drinks, parties, heavy meals, plenty of snacking, and very little time for healthy choices. But you can make it through the holidays intact — while still having fun — if you just keep a few simple holiday hacks in mind. You’ll be able to navigate the unhealthiest time of year with a healthy mindset and come out the other side with hardly a resolution to be made!
“Later We’ll Have Some Pumpkin Pie…”
Over-eating is the number-one complaint during the holidays (unless you check your credit card statement before the New Year). But those spreads at all the parties are just so amazing! Did you see all the cheese?
Easy, sister, if you want to make it through a party relatively unscathed, eat before the festivities. Yes, the invitation said heavy hors-d’oeuvres, but that rarely means healthy hors-d’oeuvres. Skip the temptation by eating a meal — or at least a hearty, healthy snack — before you arrive. This fills you up so you don’t feel like you have to inhale everything you see.
Don’t go straight to the dessert table, either. Look for the veggie tray, some good protein, or other healthier options that will give you lasting energy instead of the quick sugar fix.
Another party no-no is standing around the food table and grazing. Fix yourself a plate and move to another room. Chatting while standing next to the spread will keep you from paying attention to how much you’ve eaten. If nothing else, you’ll burn a calorie or two walking back and forth to get more.
No one says that avoiding all the delicious, not-so-healthy choices is the best way. But, keep it in check. Allow yourself a treat or two that you wouldn’t normally splurge on, but don’t run away with the whole tray!
“She’d Been Drinking Too Much Eggnog…”
Another common party foul is having one too many cocktails. Nothing spoils a morning workout like a holiday hangover. If you plan on enjoying a few glasses of wine with family or friends, keep these tips in mind.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Without anything to absorb the alcohol, it hits your bloodstream faster than usual, and you’re more likely to run into trouble before you can do anything about it. Keep in mind the healthy grazing tips above, but make sure there’s a little something in your belly before you start sipping!
Before you refill your glass, fill your glass…with…water. A one-to-one ratio of water to alcohol — or even two-to-one if you’re a light-weight — will help dilute the effects of the liquor and keep you right side up at the end of the night. If you’re having cocktails, keep an eye on who’s making them. Your best friend with the heavy hand might not be the best person to fill your glass!
And above all, be smart. Don’t grab your keys if you’ve had too much!
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
The days are shorter, the temps are colder, and your nose is turning redder than Rudolph’s. Nothing fizzles a scheduled workout faster than freezing winter weather outside and a toasty blanket inside. Stick to a healthy exercise plan by having the gear you need to stay warm!
Stock up on appropriate winter layers for outside fun, whether you’re running, skiing, snowshoeing, or just walking in a winter wonderland. Do you have a friend who also shares your passion for exercise? Plan to get together so you can hold each other accountable. You’re less likely to skip a workout if someone is standing on a cold, snow-covered street corner waiting for you to show up.
If you’re normally an outdoorsy person but just can’t do winter, now’s a good time to sign up for a class at your local gym. Head indoors to the weight room or the Zumba room or whatever it is that burns your cookie calories. No shame in taking it inside when the temperatures drop — there are plenty of options!
“City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks”
In the crazy, hectic holiday weeks, it’s easy to let fitness and health slip away. Racing from the kids’ basketball practice to the kids’ Christmas program rehearsal to your spouse’s work party to Aunt Edna’s annual winter soiree (whew…) can leave little time for anything beyond a quick look in the mirror and maybe letting the dog out.
Workouts take a back seat and eventually are kicked to the curb completely. Experts will tell you that you have to be stubborn about fitting that “me time” into your schedule, and that’s not just one of our good holiday hacks — that’s good advice. Actually put it on your schedule. Write it on your planner, on the fridge, or in your phone. Having planned time to work out ensures that you will get it done and not push it to the side. There may be days when you have to squeeze it in at odd times, but at least you’re still squeezing it in. No room in your day besides zero-dark-thirty? Lay your workout clothes next to your bed so you don’t have to think too hard in the morning. Get your coffee maker programmed to wake you up and get it done. This is where that sucker — err, friend — you have comes in handy. Make plans and don’t bail!
If all else fails, put a chart on your wall and check off every holiday cookie you’re earning by sticking to your healthy habits! Hey, bribery gets you everywhere these days.
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
Give yourself a holiday break. Don’t think you have to do it all — that includes the healthy stuff. Trying to cram too much into your holidays keeps you from actually enjoying said holidays.
Holiday hacks are awesome, but this is the time of year to be joyful and jolly. Give yourself the grace to do that. Resting, relaxing, smiling, singing, and watching movies with loved ones all help create good mental health and allow you to continue working on physical health. Keep it all in good balance for a healthier, happier, holiday you.
Photo Credits: Marisa McDonald Photography | Unsplash