The holiday season is a time to celebrate love, family and friends. It is a time to be thankful for all that we have and all that we have yet to accomplish. We honor these special occasions with sincere sentiments in the form of kind words, nostalgic storytelling – and more often than not, food. The businesses of the season’s to-dos also tend to bring our fitness routine to a halt. But have no fear, you can enjoy the holiday season – and even the extra dining delights without the added pounds. All you need to do is have a plan. Follow these six steps to maintain your health and fitness routine this holiday season!
Sure, the holiday season brings much joy but it also may bring a little stress. Add holiday shopping and family and office celebrations and soon, healthy meals may be replaced by drive-thrus and your morning exercise may be replaced with a quick run from only the front door to the car in a rush to the mall for a last-minute gift. Recognizing that your schedule may be on overload is the first step in ensuring that your health and fitness don't get neglected. Next, make a daily list the day before so that you know what the day has in store for you. A little meal prepping may also help, such as cutting up some fruits and vegetables and grilling a few pieces of chicken or fish to last for a few days. Be flexible. If your morning workout needs to be moved to the evening, so be it. An on-demand workout vs. the gym may also save time. And, while shopping in the stores can be fun, online shopping saves time.
Turn work into working out.
Walk to work or walk to the store. Take the stairs vs. the elevator. Park in the parking spot that's furtherst away from the store. Turn holiday decorating into festive fitness fun by adding super exercise moves in between putting the ornaments on the tree and decking your halls with holiday cheer. Lunges, tricep extensions and jumping jacks can help to build muscle and increase your heartbeat. Put on some holiday tunes and the whole family can dance their way to health and fitness while enjoying the spirit of the season, too.
Try a healthier spin on classic holiday recipes.
The holiday season often tempts us with treats we typically would steer away from. Set realistic goals and expectations. Keep in mind that sticking to your healthy diet as much as possible can keep you from feeling like you have to compensate even harder with additional workouts or detox days. Allow yourself to enjoy a traditional family favorite - in moderation. Substitute fattening or sugary ingredients for healthy alternatives. Unsweetened applesauce for oil, butter, or sugar; natural nut butters instead of peanut butter; dark chocolate for milk chocolate. Also, zuchinni noodles and spaghetti squash can replace traditional pasta and cauliflower can be used in a number of recipes to lighten up the holiday plate without taking away the flavor. Choose wisely throoughout each holiday meal and you'll cross the finish line guilt-free with your health and wellness to celebrate in addition to the joy of the season.
Get a buddy.
The main reason people work out with their friends is because it helps them to stay motivated. You’re more likely to get out of bed and head over to the gym for that early spin class if your workout buddy is saving you a space. A lunch date with a colleague who is health-conscious can't hurt when you're trying to avoid unhealthy meals. Feeling vulnerable? Give your buddy a call for some words of support and encouragement. Keep tabs of one another so that you can get through the season without skimping out on the gym or your fruits and veggies, either.
Seek professional support.
Getting support and instruction from a personal trainer is another way to stick to your fitness plan while continuing on a path to optimal health. Personal trainers can help you target specific “problem areas” but they can also offer you support when you need it most. Don't be afraid to schedule an extra session for some added reassurance during the holiday season.
Don’t make excuses.
'Half a pie tonight - water and carrots tomorrow? An extra serving of mashed potatoes today - no carbs tomorrow? An extra run tomorrow... or the next day? Oh, I'll make it all up after the New Year!' Sound familiar? Barganing with yourself and making empty promises for the future will only sabatoge your fitness goals and could quite possibly leave you feeling less than joyous soon after the holidays have passed. Again, be realistic. Allow yourself some moderation in eating and flexibility in your exercise regime - but try not to ignore your health completely. A few adjustments here and there to your schedule and being sure to be kind to your body and soul will help you to stick to your health and fitness plan enough so that your are not feeling sad following such a joyous time of year.
With a little extra planning and a positive mindset, you can be successful in sticking to your health and fitness plan during the holiday season while still enjoying all of the festivities that it brings. Remember that in addition to shopping and food, what makes the holiday season so special are good times with family and friends. Focus on all of the special people and relationships in your life and enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer - together. Find the balance - ad the peace - during this busy time and you'll find that sticking to your health and fitness regime may not be so challenging after all. Happy Holidays!