The Holidays: The weeks between fall and New Years when society loses its ability to execute health oriented decision making. Navigating the holidays and everything that accompanies them is often an emotional/ mental war zone bouncing between indulgence and self loathing. Ambitious people begin their holiday season hoping to resist the endless amounts of cookies, cocktails, and buffet tables that are seemingly everywhere during this time of year. They have serious will power. Others enter the holidays with a known acceptance that for those 8 weeks, their health goals can wait. Then, they head face first toward the dessert trays. My goal with this post is to shed light on the fact that there is massive space between these two extremes. If you are someone that has health and fitness goals, be empowered to incorporate healthful habits into this year’s holiday season. Below is a quick list of my top tricks for enjoying your holidays without putting your health on hold.
1. Prioritize Yourself:
It is OK to prioritize your goals! Empower yourself to set an expectation on how YOU want your holidays to go, and then make it happen. Just because everyone else is eating sugar cookies doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Putting your health needs first does not make you selfish.
2. Emphasize Self Care:
Between the errands, social events, gift wrapping, etc. most people are ready to rip their hair out come January 1st. Spend less time stressing about the demands that are being placed on you, and do something for YOU on a regular basis this holiday season. It can be allowing yourself to get extra sleep, going for more walks, spending more time with your friends, treat yourself more than usual, and do what feeds your soul.
3. Never Show Up Hungry:
No one can make good decisions on an empty stomach. If you are going to a gathering and are nervous about navigating the buffet table, make sure to eat a healthy and substantial meal before you go. That way you aren’t ready to face plant into anything edible when you walk in the door. You will also be more likely to fill your plate with food choices resembling mindfulness and moderation because you aren’t on your hunger death bed.
4. Be A Health Hoarder:
Snacks should be everywhere for holiday survival (or daily survival). Keep them in the car, in your purse, anywhere they fit. Don’t ever be caught without healthy snacks. Snacks allow you to never get too hungry, and provide the option for you to make a good choice despite the curve balls that get thrown your way.
5. Make Your Cocktail Spritz:
If you love cocktails, the holidays can be full of temptation. Try making a spritzer version of your favorite beverage by cutting the alcoholic/ sugar portion in half, and adding sparkling water in the other half. It works with any drink. You can still enjoy a buzz without all the empty calories (and half the hangover).
6. Dress for Success:
When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you tend to make better choices that align with your goals! Dressing in an outfit that shows off your figure will serve as a great motivator for you to avoid doing anything that would make you feel like a beached whale when you leave the party. Although it is tempting to pack your most comfortable sweats for the car ride home, challenge yourself to wear something more fitted and flattering to holiday outings. It will help you keep your hands out of the snack trays and away from the cookie platters.
7. Prioritize Your Plate:
Unless you are hosting, it can be difficult to know what to expect when attending a function involving food. For this reason, it is helpful to know ahead of time what your “must have” indulgences include. If you can pick one treat to enjoy, it will be much easier to consume it in moderation. The alternative often results in even the most dedicated health enthusiast scrambling to justify tasting every dessert in the building. Spend your calories on foods you really love and enjoy! Make a plan before you arrive, and hold yourself to it. It is ok to eat the cookies. But, you don’t need to finish the box…
8. Offer To Bring A Dish:
If the gathering allows a little group effort, offer to bring an entrée or appetizer. This creates an opportunity for you to prepare something that fits your needs and can also be enjoyed by others. Get creative with the usual holiday recipes and prepare something on the lighter side. Incorporate something with fresh vegetables or a yogurt spread, instead of the usual butter and cream. Provide a fresh dessert option with berries and sorbet to balance out the sugar cookies and chocolate. The other guests will appreciate the variety and you can have the best of both worlds.
9. Don’t Make Excuses:
You have the choice to treat the temptations of the holiday season like you do every other event of the year. Just because the calendar reads “November” and “December” your goals and priorities don’t require a pause. I encourage you to remember that you have the power to choose. Make the choice that best suits your goals. Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season this year!