Sticking to an exercise routine through the holidays can be challenging at best. With crazy schedules, catering to visitors, eating delicious food, and spending quality time with loved ones, no one wants to worry about how many calories we are consuming. So what can we do to keep these things in control so we can still feel good about ourselves in January? This is a question I asked myself, and here are some suggestions I found useful.
1. Go easy on the alcohol and sugary sweets
Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories. Cookies and soda are loaded with sugars that end up turning into fat when your body processes them. To minimize your intake, limit yourself to one or two drinks and one or two cookie sized treats. Since we tend to have sweets more often, another option is eating half of what you would normally, because chances are we are going to have the rest with leftovers anyway! Drinking and eating slowly will also help make you feel full so you won’t have the urge to go back for more.
2. Get up and do an activity that makes you happy
Holidays can be stressful for many so it’s important to make time for yourself. Whether you have 15 minutes or an hour to spare, try to use this time to be active while de-stressing. Think of something active that you like to do like taking a walk, or dancing to some tunes, or doing a few yoga poses in the privacy of your home. You will feel good after and better able to take on the next task.
3. Exercise where you can
Move around as much as you can. Stretch, take the stairs, when sitting make a conscious effort to sit up straight and pull your stomach muscles in, park far away from a store and walk, hand mix instead of using a blender, or wash cookware, dishes, etc. by hand. It may not sound like much, but all these little things are calorie burners that will keep you from packing on the pounds.
4. Make food instead of eating on the run
It’s no surprise that restaurant food is loaded with salt and fat along with having large portion sizes. Many TV dinners are also guilty of having too much salt, which is bad for our health and causes us to retain water. Although this requires some planning, eating food you make tends to be much healthier for you. Try making meals in larger batches so they can be reheated quickly and keep healthy snack around like trail mix.
5. Go for healthier options when you can
At holiday parties where there is a lot of food, fill at least half of your plate with healthy foods. Salad and veggies for example are full of fiber and should fill half your plate, while the other half can be for those yummy comfort foods you’ve been craving. Doing this should help you feel full so you don’t end up gorging on all those fatty foods. And again, eating slowly will help prevent overeating.
6. Use small plates
Since there are so many options at holiday parties it’s easy to get carried away and over eat. When you go for food, take a smaller plate and cut back on portion size. Another option might be eating half of your plate of food and saving the other for leftovers. If you have to go back for seconds follow the same rules!
7. Always make time for sleep
When there is a lot going on in our lives Z’s tend to get pushed to the wayside, but they shouldn’t. Getting at least 8 hours for most people is necessary for overall health and well-being. Feeling rested will keep you in the holiday spirit, and others will thank you for it as well! Just don’t eat 3 hours before bedtime or all those calories will turn to fat.
8. Don’t get down on yourself
Even if you can’t take an hour out of your day for a work out don’t get discouraged! It’s hard to fit everything into a busy holiday schedule and when you look back, you can appreciate that 10 or 20 minutes extra you took to stretch or wash those dishes, and that you successfully kept yourself happy while not overindulging.