Sticking to a Diet & Workout during the Holidays
It’s just as important to spend time with family and friends as it is to exercise. After all, how often do you get to spend the holidays with them? But it doesn’t mean you have to completely give up your healthy eating habits and workouts in order to have fun. You know better, and besides, the people who love and care for you don’t want you to give up your healthy lifestyle any more than you do.
So what can you do to maintain that healthy body during the busy holiday season? It really isn’t as difficult as you might think. Maintaining a healthy body can be as simple as planning ahead, eating right, and exercising.
Maintain a Healthy Diet During the Holidays
Around the holidays, nearly everyone has a recipe or two they wish their family and friends to try. People gather together to enjoy each other’s company, exchange stories and have fun. But eating doesn’t have to be the center of the holiday festivities. Try the following suggestions to keep from overeating.
- Focus on people, not foods – By understanding that food is only part of the fun makes it easier to stick to eating mostly healthy food.
- Eat healthy before you go – One trick that always works is to eat a healthy diet a short while before you go to someone’s home or party. If you eat nothing but healthy food beforehand, you won’t feel so bad about eating a little unhealthy food when you get where you are going. Besides, if you’ve already eaten and filled up before, you won’t have much space to eat a lot of bad food later on.
- Plan ahead and bring something healthy with you – Good intentions sometimes go awry when you show up to a gathering and find that none of the food is healthy. Do yourself a favor and buy or make something healthy to take with you.
- Don’t punish yourself – Unless you have a solid steel constitution, you know you will eat at least a small portion of the party food wherever you go. Don’t punish yourself. Eat some unhealthy food in order to stave off any cravings you may have. After all, when you spend hours at a gathering, looking at and smelling the food can be very difficult if you don’t eat any of it. Go ahead and reward yourself for eating healthy during the past year, and then move on.
- Don’t be afraid to say no – If someone insists that you eat a large portion of the food they brought, eat some but don’t go overboard simply because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Let them know that your diet consists of certain foods, but on occasion, you are able to eat other things.
- Eat slowly so you don’t consume too much – Yes, this should always be the rule, but people tend to get excited around the holidays and forget their normal eating habits.
- Consume low calorie, healthy beverages – If you are going to consume excess calories, try to make those calories come mostly from solid food. In other words, don’t drink your calories. Stay away from sugary drinks or diet drinks, especially those laden with alcohol. Try to drink club soda or wine instead of hard liquor or champagne. Fill your cup with ice before you pour your beverage so that anything you drink is diluted. Also, keep in mind that alcohol actually increases inhibitions and appetite. Getting drunk may cause you to eat much more than you normally want to.
- Treat leftovers respectfully – Don’t offer to take home unhealthy leftovers because they will only prolong your bad eating. Let someone else have them, and go back to eating things that are included in a healthy diet.
- Don’t eat out, unless you can choose healthy food – Going out to eat is often unavoidable around the holidays. So if you must go out to appease others, help them chose a place where you can order something healthy to eat, things that are on your diet.
- Don’t let one or two bad days of overeating get you down – If by chance you do overeat, don’t beat yourself up for it. You know how to eat healthily, just continue to do it, forgive yourself for your indiscretion, and don’t look back.
- Keep your stress level down – Stress is a game changer when trying to lose weight and stay in shape. When you are enjoying time with family and friends, your stress level should be lower (hopefully). Lower stress levels mean less stressful eating and less weight gain. Some people are so busy during the holidays that they actually lose weight. Give it a try, and enjoy yourself.
Stay Active During the Holidays
How long will you be away from home during holiday visits? Even if you will be visiting family or friends in another state or area of the country, you can still find ways to exercise and stay active. Sure, you may not have exercise equipment as readily available away from home as you do at home, but that obstacle can be easily overcome. If you are only going to be away from home for a few days or so, it shouldn’t really matter if you aren’t able to exercise. But, if you are going to be away from home for more than a few days, such as a week or two, plan ahead. One alternative is to see if your gym has a chapter near the place you are visiting. Some gyms offer reciprocal memberships for members who are away from home. Or, you can ask a family member or friend if they have a guest membership you can use while visiting with them. If neither of those things is available, you can be creative in your workouts. But no matter where you are, try to expand your workout routine so that it resembles the total body workout you have been following.
- Keep people in the loop – Make sure to tell friends and family of your fitness guidelines so they will understand and respect your wishes to exercise and workout while away from home.
- Take advantage of your newfound time – People who work long hours know just how difficult it can be to find time to workout. One of the nice things about holiday visits is that people typically take a break from work, and because of that extra free time they may have additional time to work out. My recommendation is that you use that extra time to go outside and exercise.
- Use your own body weight for resistance exercise – We have become so accustomed to using gym weights and exercise machines that many of us have forgotten that our own body weight can be used as a tool to stay healthy. Pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and leg squats are just a few of the many exercises we can do to increase and maintain our physical strength and endurance.
- Resistance bands – Resistance bands can be used to strengthen the arms, legs, back, shoulders, and chest. Since they don’t take up much space in your carry bag, and you don’t need much space in order to use them, they make an ideal exercise tool. While visiting and away from home, they are ideal for quick and convenient workout routines.
- Plan and pay for an activity ahead of time – If you plan on doing something with friends or family members during the holidays and you pay for it ahead of time, you are more likely to do it. Few people like to waste money they have already spent. Use that hesitation to lose money to your advantage.
- Accountability– Plan an excursion or event, such as a 5k run, with someone and have them hold you accountable for completing it.
- Let the weather be your guide – There are so many ways to exercise that are tied to the weather. In cold winter states you can go sledding, ice skating, build snowmen and snow castles in the yard, or you can just shovel snow after a storm. In warmer weather states, you can rake the newly fallen leaves, do yard work, clean the garage, or go spend time on the beach and swim in the ocean. Imagine how much your friends and family will appreciate and remember you for that.
- Create memories with family and friends – How many times have you been to someone’s house and the children were bored? Nieces, nephews, and your friend’s children would love to play football, basketball, soccer, kickball, Frisbee, canoe, or hike. Creating memories while you get exercise. How much better can it get?
- Walk, run, or jog, and take in the sites – The holidays are a particularly pretty time of year. Holiday decorations in homes and business make everything look festive. Visit holiday festivals, shop for gifts instead of ordering online, and even run or jog throughout the area while taking in the beautiful sights and sounds.
- Take children to the park, and workout – Children love the park, and what better way to exercise than to play with your children, nieces, and nephews. When they are playing on the swings, you can be doing chin-ups on the monkey bars, or any other exercise you can imagine. Invite the children to exercise with you, and you can all improve your health at the same time.
- Video workout – The holidays can be very busy, so instead of Yoga or aerobics at the gym, stay home and pop a DVD into the player and do your exercises there. There are more exercise routines on video and the internet than you can watch in a lifetime.
If you have been following a total body workout prior to the holidays, you want to try and continue to mimic that routine as much as possible. Be creative and integrate as many of the above ideas into your workout as possible. They may not be as good for you as the total body workout you were getting at home, but with a little time and ingenuity, you can use those workouts to stay healthy.
No matter where you are or how busy you may be during the holidays, it’s important to set aside some time to eat right and exercise. When you think about it, the holidays are really not that much different than any time of the year. In order to stay fit, you have to eat right, exercise frequently, watch your weight, and persevere in making the best health-related decisions. Happy holidays to you and yours, and don’t forget to stay healthy!