Between Friendsgivings, cheerful yuletide gatherings, and New Year’s Eve extravaganzas, the holidays are a gauntlet of temptation for those interested in eating healthy and staying fit. Maintaining good habits while surrounded by treats takes planning, willpower, and a dose of stubborn diligence.
Avoid dieting disasters and exercise evasion this year with a strategy sure to keep you on track! Give yourself the gift of fitness: the season won’t sabotage your goals if you consider the following eight tips for healthy holiday celebrating.
- Make a list: The easiest way to keep fitness goals in check is to make a list of all your objectives and their requirements. Knowing exactly what your body will need throughout the holidays and having a list handy will help keep you from sabotaging your own fitness regimen. Plan out your exercise schedule before the holiday busyness begins. Get your planned time penciled in while the days are calm, in advance of the slew of party invitations. This way, you can commit yourself to your fitness first, as well as scheduling your big workouts around days you know you won’t have time to exercise. You can use those days as rest days to recover from heavy exertion.
- Hold yourself accountable: Similar to New year’s resolutions, diets are not generally upheld. People often quit them after a couple of weeks, sometimes even citing New Year’s resolutions as an excuse to slack off during the holiday season. Unfortunately, this strategy makes it that much more difficult on you and your body once January finally does roll around. Wouldn’t it be much easier to check yourself rather than play a seemingly impossible game of catch-up? While your goals may have to be modified a bit during the holidays, you can still set manageable daily tasks (like meal tracking or eating a certain amount of protein per day) that will benefit you in the long run.
- Savor strategically: Include a daily calorie “budget” as part of your holiday routine and plan around it. For instance, if you know you plan on indulging in calorie-heavy food and drink later in the evening, try to eat light earlier on in the day. If you plan on eating foods high in sugar, eat them earlier in the day; this way you have the entirety of the day to burn it off, lessening the amount that your body could potentially store as fat. And always make sure you get plenty of protein.
- Hydrate: Going easy on the booze is a given, but remembering to drink plenty water is an easier rule to forget for some. Remember to stay hydrated not only while you work out, but also while you prep holiday meals and hang with the family. Satiating your hydration levels can help quell false hunger pangs. If you prefer flavored drinks to water, infuse your water with fresh fruit leftover from pie prep, or add some BCAAs to your water. BCAAs will add flavor and aid in your workout recovery—a win-win!
- Set your clock back: And we’re not talking about daylight savings time. Move your alarm back and get going a little earlier than normal. Waking up earlier than everyone else will ensure fewer distractions and make it much more difficult for you to find excuses not to work out. Evenings are almost always packed with holiday engagements. Rising early will help you reclaim your exercise time before the rush catches up to you
- Snack wisely: Don’t think that eschewing eating all day is doing your body any favors. You may be within your calorie budget for the day, but you’re also a lot more likely to pig out as soon as dinnertime hits. Being that holiday food is famous for being high in carbs, starch, sodium, and sugars, you should try to snack on small healthy morsels in between meals. Things high in fiber and protein are good. Snack on a handful of nuts, some celery sticks, or a Quest Bar so that you get the nutrients you need while also avoiding a craving catastrophe.
- Find a training buddy: When you work out alone, it’s easy to rationalize skipping your intended workout. A training partner provides you with motivation outside yourself, as well as helping keep you honest. The only thing better than one person staying fit is two!
- Try alternative methods: Having long-distance family and friends in town or going out of town to visit means that you may have some difficulty making it to the gym. No worries. There are plenty of at-home workouts you can do and fun activities you can do with friends and family that will keep you active. Get your family to sign up for a fun holiday run, play the Wii, go ice skating.
And, most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Anxiety can have numerous detrimental effects on your health, not the least of which is its effect on your ability to burn fat. So take a breath, appreciate your loved ones, and learn that it’s okay to say no if your jampacked schedule is stressing you out.