Along with the family, friends and festivities of the Holiday season now barreling towards us, it can be easy to dwell on, or even dread, the downsides. If you’re pretty good about sticking to a gym routine, look forward to classes and watch what you eat, as you head toward seasonal parties and family get togethers, the holidays sometimes feel more like an off ramp to all the good behaviors we developed during the year. But being mindful and adopting a few intentional healthy habits at this time of year can help keep the holidays less naughty and a lot nicer as they come our way.
Be intentional with meal portions
Most of us know a balanced meal of protein, vegetables and complex carbs is the ideal for every meal. In summer and even fall, bowls of mixed salads and lighter meals help with healthy weight management goals, but in winter the body craves comfort foods that can equal carbs.
Studies show on average people tend to consume almost 100 calories per day more than summer months and many people can gain five to seven pounds over the winter months. Add to this the temptation to let loose “just this once” and over indulge, and it can be a slippery slope for some. But being intentional around food during the holidays can really help. At home, you have more control. So don’t give in to creamy, fat-rich heavy winter foods. Choose broth-based soups that satisfy without adding pounds. And don’t forget about salads and vegetables as it gets cold.
The goal is always five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. And winter veg like beets, squash, brussel sprouts and cauliflower can pack a lot of taste as well as the nutrients your body needs. When you do head to a party, be vigilant about portion control. A holiday dinner can add 3,000 calories and 150 grams of fat, so choose wisely. Three ounces of protein is about right per person, which is the size of the palm of your hand.
Take your gym with you to the relatives
Surveys estimate 109 million people travelled for Thanksgiving in 2022 and the rest of the season won’t let up. Almost a third of the country. If you’re one of those taking to the roads (or the sky), don’t let travel – and an upset to your usual gym schedule – completely derail your workout goals. Using your club’s fitness app to access on-demand workouts and exercises is easy and more importantly on your schedule, which isn’t always easy to manage if you’re a guest in someone’s home over the holidays. But getting in a committed mindset and planning workout time, just like you do at home, is critical to success.
Choose a 30-45 minute slot in the day and dedicate it solely to working out. An early morning half hour to get your heart rate up and energizing you for your day, or a late afternoon wind-down with meditation or on-demand stretch and yoga are equally beneficial and a good break from family time. Whether you keep things constant and repeat your on-demand workout every day, or dip into a wide library of exercise options, consistency and commitment are the keys to success.
Watch what you drink
Get togethers are moments of celebration and that can often mean alcohol or calorie-packed soft drinks. Both are fine in moderation, but over indulgence is going to add empty calories and the negative effects of a hangover from too much alcohol or a sugar crash from soda could keep you from your workout goals on the road. Each glass of white wine is 120 calories and a single can of soda can carry as much as ten grams of sugar.
Alcohol is a depressant and will slow you down in terms of your desire to work out as well as your speed, athletic ability and performance. It can also prevent your muscles from healing as well after workouts, meaning if you do exercise and then drink, you’ll likely be sore the next day. So, as with everything, moderation is the key. Try to drink 64oz of water a day to stay hydrated and staying aware of what you’re drinking when you’re at the bar or opening a new bottle of wine, will help you stay on track. That said, it is the holidays, and a few glasses of what you love with family and friends is a stress-busting luxury at a time of year when many of us need it.