6 Tips for a Healthier Holiday

I love the holidays; they’re my favorite time of year.  They are also probably the most difficult time for all of us to keep to our health and fitness routines.   Between sitting in airplanes, trying to taste all of our favorite holiday foods, squeezing in time with as many loved ones as possible, and most smaller gyms and fitness facilities closing down for the holiday break, the STRUGGLE is real!  And as easy as it would be to just sit back on the couch with a plate of cookies and a glass of wine (what?  Those don’t go together?), your body will thank you if you make at least some kind of effort to maintain all your hard work during these last couple of weeks of 2014.  Here are some ways to keep up your habits and still enjoy the holidays!

1)      It’s okay to take a break.  If you’ve been working hard all year in the gym, on the track, or in your group classes, your body could actually really use some down time to recover.  It’s actually incredibly beneficial to your body’s progress to give it rest days.  But “Rest Day” doesn’t mean two weeks of sitting on the couch.  Try some lighter activities, like getting your family members to go on a walk around the neighborhood, meeting up with your old college friend for an outdoor run, or even dragging out your mom’s workout videos and taking over the living room for an hour. Your workouts might not be the caliber that you’re used to, but you’ll still be moving!

2)      Find out what local gyms are open.  While many studios and gyms shut down over the holidays, there are still those that are open except for Christmas Day.  Call around and find out if they have a drop in rate or if they’re accepting out of town guests for free.  You might find a new activity that you like, and at the very least, you won’t have to wait in line for the treadmill or squat rack!

3)      Taste everything, pick carefully.  Most of us have our holiday staple that we make for the family, and it can offend some people if you don’t at least have a bite of whatever they brought to share.  Unless you have a food allergy, it’s okay to try the food that’s not on the healthy list.  Use this tactic:  Take a bite of the food, compliment the chef, take another bite, and then move on to the healthier fare at the table. 

4)      Write down what you consume.  This one totally sucks.  It’s also probably the most effective at holding you accountable out of anything that you do.  Do you really want that third slice of pie?  It’s a lot easier to stop if you know you have to revisit your choices in the form of calorie counting.

5)      Drink in moderation.  This one’s easy.  Don’t overdo it on the booze.  Liquid calories add up quickly, you’re more likely to make bad food choices when you’re intoxicated, and alcohol slows down your metabolism while it’s in your system.  It’ll also make you feel puffy and dehydrated if you drink too much, so keep it to a minimum.  At the very least, chug water in between beverages.

6)      Sleep.  Take a nap on the plane, buy earplugs, turn your phone off, but put in a big effort during your vacation to get rest.  It will help your body to repair cell damage, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be more ready to tackle January once you’re back to a normal schedule. 

Remember, the goal here isn’t to maintain that perfect workout routine, or to eat carrots at the dinner table and pass up the good stuff, it’s to do your best to maintain what you’ve worked for, instead of giving up completely during this time and telling yourself you’ll “reset in January”.  Good luck, and Happy Holidays!