Happy Healthy Holidays: What's Your Plan?
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image by Brad Chaffee

Veterans’ Day weekend I went to my local mall to pick up some much needed heavy duty hand cream. Much to my dismay I found Christmas already in full swing. Displays of gifts were in store windows. Christmas lights twinkled from the ceiling. Christmas music blared from the speakers. Even Santa had arrived and was available for photos.

Like it or not, the holidays are upon us.

Do you have a plan?

Not a gift list or a party plan but a plan for fitness survival? A plan to keep you healthy and fit in this season of cookie parties, fudge and peppermint mochas?

Never fear, I am here to help. Every Monday from now till New Year’s Eve I’m going to be focusing on how to navigate the holiday season while maintaining your fitness (and perhaps your sanity). Trust me, it can be done. But it takes a plan.

The first part of your plan is getting a clear look at what lies ahead. I want you to take inventory of the “extras” coming up. Make a list of all the parties, dinners and open houses you’ve been invited to. Write down the dates if you have them, but it’s okay if you don’t.

Now, determine which ones you will say no to. I don’t want you to become a hermit in the name of fitness but you know there are some events you don’t want to go to. There are some parties you agree to go to not because you like the people, but out of a sense of obligation. Life is too short and your time too precious to go to parties out of obligation and not joy.

So I want you to start saying no.  You don’t have to explain. Thank the host or hostess and simply say you are unable to come. They will appreciate knowing this well in advance.

Now you’ve narrowed down the list to those things you really will enjoy doing.  If that’s a dinner with your family and a party or two, then by all means enjoy yourself.  Eat normally through out the day, get in some exercise that day and have a treat or two. If you do the right things 80-90% of the time, a splurge or two won’t hurt.

If your list is still very long, then you need to step up your plan.  In addition to the above advice, here are some tips if you have a very busy social season.

  • Bring your own food.

    This can be volunteering to bring a healthy side to Thanksgiving dinner or bringing your own snacks to a holiday cookie party. I take a protein bar and hot tea with me to my neighbor’s cookie party.

  • Make activity part of the event.

    Can you take a walk before or after the Thanksgiving meal? Can you walk a few laps in the mall before you shop to burn off the extra calories from lunch with the girls? Can you go caroling, walking from house to house, instead of driving around looking at Christmas lights? Any extra movement will burn help burn off the extra calories.

  • Split up your workouts.

    Time is at a premium this time of year, I know. Yet doing 2 a days will help keep your metabolism kicked up throughout the day. Do basic strength moves at home in the morning, circuit style, then do some cardio at lunch or after work.  If you take in extra fuel you’ve got to do the extra work to match.

Hope isn’t a strategy. Saying no, staying active and taking control of your fitness is.

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