Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day with friends and family.
Today starts the beginning of the holiday season, filled with family gatherings and office parties that provide us temptations and excuses to eat poorly and skip workouts.
I am not a humbug. I will put up the tree this weekend while drinking hot cocoa. I will make my husband watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for the millionth time. I think it’s a wonderful time of year where people are just a little kinder and little more thoughtful than the rest of the year.
However, I am also a realist. I understand that, for some reason, people seem to see this time of year as a free pass to eat more than they normally would or exercise a little less than their normal routine. I get that we want to enjoy this time, but I also want you to remember to continue to take care of yourself and honor all the hard work you have put in the rest of the year.
The best part is you can enjoy your holiday season without gaining the average 2-3 lbs that people put on between Thanksgiving and New Years. Like I said, I am not a humbug and I don’t want you to be either. What I do want is for you to be smart this season and make a pact with yourself before we get too far into the holiday season. Hold up your right hand and repeat after me:
“I (insert your name) promise that this holiday season I will continue to perform 150-300 minutes of exercise each week and I will continue to eat whole and nutritious foods. I promise holiday leftovers will leave with others or not come home with me. If I want a cookie I will have a cookie, but not a dozen cookies. I will not overindulge and say that I can worry about it in the New Year. I promise not to gain weight during this holiday season”.
Say it again if you need to. Write it down if it will help. Add additional promises based on your personal goals, whatever you need to do to make it your own and make the pledge to yourself. This is the first and most important step to making it through the season: having a clear goal and a clear direction.
So what else can you do to navigate the season successfully? Let me give you few tips:
- You don’t have to go to every party. We tend to try to do too much during the holidays and stress often leads to poor choices, particularly when it comes to food. One less party and one more workout will make you feel better in the end, I promise
- Try some healthier versions of holiday treats. One of my favorite foods is the sweet potato. Not sweet potato pie with all the marshmallows and brown sugar, but twice baked with cottage and fat free ricotta cheeses. Better for you but with still a traditional holiday vegetable
- Find a mocktail you like. A great suggestion that I like is sparkling water with a splash of cranberry and a wedge of lime.
- Stick to a normal schedule as much as possible. If you normally eat lunch at 11:30 but the meal won’t be ready till 2, have your normal afternoon snack at 11:30 and let the meal take the place of the snack. Same overall calories and still eating every 3-4 hours.
- Make activity a part of the holiday. Find ways to get the family outside and moving or plan parties around activities like skating or bowling.
- Everyone deserves a splurge. If you have an extra glass of eggnog don’t punish yourself, just try to compensate for it in your meal and exercise plan over the next few days.
I hope the pledge and tips help you stay on track while enjoying this festive time of year. I would love to hear any tips you might have to share on how to have a healthy and fit holiday season.