You have worked all year long to live a healthy, balanced life and with the holidays coming there is no reason to take negate all of your progress. It is possible to stay on track during the holidays without depriving yourself of the things you love most.
Many media stories suggest that the average American gains 7-10 pounds during the holidays, but recent studies say it is just 1-2 pounds from Thanksgiving to Christmas. For me, I am not worried about that number on the scale as I try to avoid the scale. It is all about how I feel. I want to be my best self to create memories with my family over the holidays. I know I will not be my best self if I skip workouts, eat every dessert, and fill up on all those cheese-loaded appetizers.
Does this mean I will turn my nose up to those yummy appetizers? Absolutely not! Will I have a few of my favorite Christmas cookies? You bet! There are ways to stay on track during the holidays season and still enjoy everything that comes with the most joyous time of year.
8 Tips & Tricks for Staying on Track this Holiday
Following these tips starting with Thanksgiving will set you up for a much happier, healthier holiday and won’t leave you feeling like you negated all your progress.
1. It is one meal- keep it that way
Thanksgiving day does not give you the green light to eat a terrible breakfast and lunch. It is only one, single meal so treat it that way. Do not make the holidays a reason to treat yourself at every meal. If you are attending a holiday gathering of sometime make sure your other meals that day (and the day before and day after) are spot on. Load up on your veggies and limit your sugar.
2. Drink your water
This does not mean you can’t also have an adult beverage, but make sure you chug your water before you even get to your destination. Always have a water glass near you and continually drink it throughout the duration of your festivities. This will help your digestion and keep you from resisting temptation.
3. Set a goal
It doesn’t matter the time of the year, I always set a health & fitness goal for myself and the holidays are no different. Yes they are a busy time and that is even a better reason to set a goal. Maybe you usually workout 5 times a week and you know you have a lot going on so setting a goal to get a total of 20 workouts in from now until Christmas is realistic for you. Or maybe, like me, working out is easy and it is the sugar intake that is hard so your goal could be allowing yourself to have three sweet treats per week during the holiday season. Whatever the goal is, make sure you write it down and then reward yourself when you reach it.
4. Schedule your workouts
The holidays are busy – there is no doubt. You schedule time to shop, festive dinners, and time to bake cookies. Do not forget to schedule your workout too. Go ahead, get our your calendars now and schedule your workouts for the holiday season. I sit down every Sunday night and the first thing I put on my calendar is when I will workout and what type of workout I will do. Remember, it does not have to be a long 1 hour workout- a quick, sweaty 30 minutes will do. You can find some great workouts like that here.
5. Swap your traditions
If you have a lot of unhealthy traditions, swap them out for healthier ones like a festive workout. We always do a 5k run on Thanksgiving day and I usually try and do a festive Christmas run as well. It is fun to get some fit friends or family together and dress up for these type of events. Not a runner? That is okay, many gyms have special holiday events too such as a Santa Slam group exercise medley or a Rockin’ Christmas Ride spinning class. Don’t have one near you? Create one yourself!
Instead of meeting you friends out for dinner and wine, why don’t you meet for a morning workout followed by brunch to celebrate the holidays. Or grab a friend or family member and do an at-home holiday workout together. (Thanksgiving Day workout & Christmas Workout)
6. Choose healthy recipes
Choose healthier food options for you and your family. I shared 5 ways you could swap greek yogurt for your Thanksgiving dinner here. When you are asked to bring something, choose to bring something healthy so you know there will be one option you will feel good about. Do you have traditions to eat certain food at home? Swap them out for healthier options.
Before we had kids, we used to make orange rolls every Thanksgiving morning. We would eat almost the whole tube just the two of us. That was before we went off to our Thanksgiving dinner (I clearly didn’t follow rule #1 back then). Now, instead of that, we purchase a bag of yummy flavored coffee for special days during the holidays. We don’t get to brew it every morning and it is something to look forward to. I have also found some healthier breakfast options like egg or oatmeal casseroles that are a special treat during the holidays.
7. Split a dessert plate
To me, there is nothing worse than going go the desserts and wanting to have one of everything. I love dessert. I know if I fill up my dessert plate, I will most likely eat all of it and then feel terrible. My hubby and I now split a dessert plate. We absolutely fill it up and each take a couple bites of each item that way we can taste it all. My friend Mindy says, “the first three bites are the best.” Think of that advice this holiday.
8. Choose what is worth it
There are some things that are just worth it to eat once a year- choose them wisely. I will absolutely eat one whole (possibly even three) scotcharoos that have absolutely no healthy swaps. Oh and a few of of these amazing sugar cookies courtesy of Julie Fagan’s grandma– yes, I will enjoy those with my a cup of coffee this holiday season. Oh and chex mix too! My mother-in-law’s best friend makes this amazing chex mix every Christmas. Salty is not usually my thing, but this stuff is worth it! I will have multiple handfuls of this and not regret it. Chances are she will probably send a bag home with us and I will hide it from the rest of the family.
The holidays are a fun, magical time to be with family and friends. That is what it is truly about- the time spent with the ones you love. Make it about the company and the memories, not about the food. Find your balance, what makes you feel good, and what helps you live your best holiday season. Try just one or two of these tips this holidays season and I know you will feel much better about your choices when it is all over. Have a blessed & enjoyable holiday season.
Your turn- tell me!
What food or treat is worth the splurge?
How do you stay on track during the holidays?