5 Ways to Get Healthier DURING the Holidays
It’s that time of year where we’re focused on the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and everything that comes with it – the celebrations, the traditions, the food, and maybe even a little stress. We’re looking towards the New Year and reflecting on the past 12 months. Maybe we’re even making a mental game plan of how we’re going to tackle our health and wellness in the new year.
Dare I throw out a crazy concept?
How about you start taking care of yourself and tackling those goals NOW!
Yes, right now! In the midst of all the holiday hustle.
What would happen if you actually committed to going “all in” now?
After all, postponing weight loss, healthy eating, and self-care until January often backfires and leads to bigger splurges and more weight gains over the holidays.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. You tell yourself, “I’ll just have these few treats today since I’m going to lose it all in January anyway”. And then once you splurge during that first-holiday gathering, it’s all downhill from there. We get into this mindset that we’ve already “ruined” our diet or our protocol, so we allow it to become a free-for-all through the remainder of the season.
However, if we prepare our body now when January comes around we’ll already be off to a great start, rather than further behind. Wouldn’t it be incredible to ring in the new year with confidence and self-esteem rather than feeling tired and flabby? YES!!
Research shows that those who focus on their health and wellness during the holiday season not only ring in the new year fitter but they experience less seasonal depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia than those who wait till January 1st.
It may sound overwhelming, but staying on track and eating healthy during the holidays is totally doable! Here are my top tips for navigating celebrations and busy schedules, while also eating right and taking care of yourself.
- Park far away for holiday shopping. Remember that every step counts, and we’re aiming for 10,000 steps per day. It’s also really helpful to wear a smartwatch that tracks your steps so you know exactly how much you’ve moved in a day. Oh, and parking further away means eliminating the stress of fighting holiday shoppers for a parking spot. Win-win! Other ways to get fitness in: take the kids ice-skating, take a walk after a holiday meal with the family, window shop at the mall, sign up for a fun-run or turkey trot. Maybe some of these activities will become a new holiday tradition.
- Bring a healthy dish to every gathering (Grab our new holiday recipe guide here for inspiration). If you have a food sensitivity or a meal plan you follow, then come prepared with food you can eat is a no-brainer. Remember that your host is most likely grateful for the help, and food sensitivities and intolerances are so common these days you likely won’t be the only one benefiting. If bringing food isn’t an option, then scan the buffet or menu when you arrive and start making a game plan. Identify what foods seem safe or are the healthiest options and load up your plate with those.
- The holidays are also a time for celebration and enjoyment, so don’t constantly restrict yourself either. That can lead to major binges and negative cycles. Instead, have a game plan for ONE indulgence during the holiday meal. Will it be a glass of wine, a dinner roll, or a small dessert? Pick one – not all – and you won’t ruin your waistline!
- Incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle. There are different ways to do this, and the right timing varies by individual, but when you keep your blood sugar stable and regulated, you can feast on the days that count, guilt-free! This is also similar to the 80/20 rule. When you follow your plan 80% of the time (think about this in weekly increments), then you can be a little more flexible 20% of the time without setting yourself back too far.
- Take time for mindset, meditation, and self-care during the holiday season. Getting yourself into the right mindset is key. Remind yourself that while food plays a big part in many of our holiday traditions that it’s not everything. This season is about family, friends, connections, time together, giving to others. Don’t give food that much power over your life – or your holiday!
Once you get your mind right, don’t forget to take care of the rest of you. Meditate each day to help stay calm, centered and reduce stress. Practice self-care – take a walk, take a hot bath, read a few chapters in a good book, get plenty of sleep, get a manicure – do what makes you feel good to help you recharge during this busy season. It will help give you the stamina to stay on track!
One last tip: Keep in mind that resolutions should focus on things you want, not things you don’t. Set positive intentions for yourself. Remember that non-scale victories are great things to focus on and you can set intentions for, let’s say, running a 5K, spending more time on self-care, having more date nights with your spouse, meditating for 15 minutes a day, improving flexibility, and so on. When you set positive intentions like these, it gives you far more latitude, and options, in reaching your goal rather than just making an overarching statement that you’d like to lose 20 pounds, for example.
Following these tips will help ensure that you stick to your wellness plan over the holidays – and it will set you up to be way ahead on January 1st. Set those intentions right now, before Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season hits. You can step into the new year already feeling great, which will set you up to make better resolutions and have greater success on your path to wellness!
Dr. Michelle Sands
Naturopathic Physician, Best Selling Author, and Women’s Health Expert