5 Simple Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

So, I have this friend, that whenever he sees a plate of brownies or a big ole chocolate cake, he. just. wants. one. bite. And before he knows it, he’s eaten 3/4 of a cake, one sliver at a time. You know what I’m talking about, right? And at that point, if you’re like the majority of the population, the “what the hell” effect kicks in. You’ve had a ton of cake, what the hell, might as well go for that second glass of wine. You’ve had the wine, what the hell, might as well skip your workout tomorrow and sleep in. Missed the workout? What the hell, guess I’ll order that pizza and just start my workouts again on Monday.
The what the hell effect is real. It’s a cycle when you indulge, regret what you’ve done, and then go back for more. And it’s even more intensified around the holidays. There is a family, work, or kid event almost every week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and virtually all of them are underscored by food. And I guarantee your coworker is serving sliders, not salad.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll start eating healthy next week, actually, the holidays are almost here, so I’ll just start that fitness routine next year.” That’s almost thirty days away people! And let’s be honest, it’s not just the new routine you need to start, it’s also managing the temptations and impulse to indulge around the holidays, because, what the hell?
The fact of the matter is, it’s not easy to stick to a plan or your goals or in general live a healthy life, especially around the holidays. Too many people are giving themselves an out and encouraging you to do the same because it makes them feel better! Be strong. The mental victory you’ll get by exercising some control and moderation is a far greater reward than eating an entire cheese plate. Now, if you want to cheat, have a treat. ONE. But don’t let that derail the rest of your day or week. It’s just not worth it in the long run. And you’ll just be regretting it come January 1.
So, what can you do to stay healthy during the holidays? Read on.
  1. Get a smaller plate. —> You all know you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And I get that you may want to indulge a little around the holidays. The operative word being little. A great way to do that is by choosing a smaller plate. Grab an appetizer dish at a party or one of your kid’s plates when you’re going in for leftovers. Size does matter. Just reaching for a smaller plate will cut down on how much food you eat and how much better you’ll feel the next day. Bonus? Take a lap around the buffet table before you dive in, so you’re really conscious about what you’re choosing and so you only get the really good stuff (on your small plate)!
  2. Carry a water bottle with you. —> A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day. A 200lb dude should be drinking about 100 ounces of water a day, more if he’s working out. With all the holiday hustle and bustle, bring a water bottle with you. It can help curb hunger, will definitely keep you hydrated, and will stop you from get that 3rd Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks. Here’s my go-to water bottle.
  3. Don’t skip meals. —> The hungrier you are, the more likely you are to go crazy at your sister-in-law’s soiree. If you know you’re going to a party later that night, eat small, frequent, and healthy meals throughout the day. Save up those calories for when you want them, but don’t starve yourself all day. That actually slows down your metabolism and can end up backfiring! Better to stick as close to a regular routine as possible  and grab that smaller plate!
  4. Bring a healthy dish. —> You are probably not the only one who is trying not to gain 20lbs over the holidays. Other guests will appreciate that you brought a healthy/gluten free/dairy free/vegan/paleo/whatever option to the party. It also cuts down on the anxiety you may get about if there will be anything there that you can eat (whether it’s due to lifestyle or an allergy).
  5. Make time to exercise. —> When life gets crazy, the first thing to go is usually something for yourself (i.e. exercise). If you’ve already got a fitness or training habit down – don’t stop! If it’s something you plan on working on in the new year – start now! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just move. Walk, run, or do some yoga the morning before a big party – something to wake up your metabolism. Make it a family affair. There is nothing better then going sledding before Christmas dinner or going for a long walk after New Year’s Day brunch. Do not make excuses, just make the time. 10 or 15 minutes is all you need!

Most importantly, enjoy! Enjoy time with your friends and family, be gentle with yourself, and be realistic. Do not try to lose 15 lbs or get a new PR during the holidays if you know you are also going to allow yourself some indulgences. Now, if are 110% committed to not having any sweets, not drinking any alcohol, etc. then more power to you (I support you 1000%!). But, if you do plan to do one less workout a week or add a few more drinks then usual, do not expect to have massive results. Focus instead on maintaining and staying in the moment and enjoying each experience.

What are your best tips for staying healthy during the holidays? Comment below!

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