One of the hardest times to stay healthy is during the holidays and winter months, wouldn’t you agree? There are a million and one reasons for this, but I think the main two are that our routines become more relaxed, making workouts hard to prioritize, and of course, we eat a TON of good food.
Both are good things, but when while we aren’t looking, January 1 creeps up and if we aren’t mindful, all of a sudden we realize we don’t feel our best.
One of my goals for a healthy lifestyle is that it’s sustainable. It’s so important that our health is not a start-and-stop, but consistent and enjoyable, so that we want to keep up our good habits. The goal is to just live life and take things in stride which requires us to have different strategies throughout the year to enjoy all of life’s holidays and chaos without wrecking our goals or gut. Cue this blog post.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to help me stay healthy this time of year, while still enjoying cocktail parties, desserts and baking! Let’s get into it!
Enjoy these pictures from past holidays :).
How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
Evaluate the Parties
As soon as we start getting invitations for holiday parties, I look at all the parties and start evaluating each of them. Maybe I’ll see that one is a cocktail party, one is a potluck, and one is being catered by a restaurant I love. Then, I’ll start to pick which parties I’m going to want to enjoy the most. Of course I’ll enjoy all of them since I’ll be with family and friends, but food and drink-wise, I try to decide which ones I want to indulge in the most.
And for the other parties, I’m just a total food snob, and I only go for something if it’s homemade since that’s worth the splurge. If it something that I can easily get at the grocery store the next week I will pass on it. (You can usually tell!) Homemade holiday foods are completely worth it.
Another big factor of the holidays for many people is alcohol. Many holiday parties have cocktails, and around NYE there are usually even more drinks involved. A few things that we already know about alcoholic beverages: they aren’t good for you, and they will likely make you eat more (unhealthy) food than you typically would, especially if you drink on an empty stomach. But like I said, the goal is to take things in stride and enjoy our lives, so it’s important to find a good balance.
Before I show up at a party, I always make a decision about if I’m going to drink at all, or have a glass or two. Making the decision prior to showing up is so important because the environment of the party could absolutely dictate my decisions otherwise.
And in between my drinks, I always have a few glasses of water. This helps me stay hydrated and feel so much better the next day.
The other thing that I always do is tell someone what I’ve decided to do for accountability. Don’t tell a person who is not going to actually help hold you accountable, tell a person you trust will actually help you, especially if your goal is to not drink at all. If you don’t have a friend who supports your goals with alcohol, find some new friends. 😉
How many parties do you have in a week?
Parties around the holidays can add up really quickly. Maybe you have a work party, two friends are hosting gatherings, and you also have a family get together –– all in one week. When this is the case, I try to be really focused on the rest of my meals. That means for breakfast and lunch, I eat healthy and make good food choices that include lots of fruits and vegetables. And I also make a game-plan for the day after. If I have 2 glasses of wine, which will make me SO tired the next day, I always plan to wake up, have eggs and toast and go for walk or do some physical activity. A plan (and staying active) makes everything so much better.
Giving and receiving baked goods
Another fun thing about the holidays are all of the fun baked gifts we give and receive. Self control is the most important factor in creating healthy habits around these yummy treats, but a few ticks can help too.
The same rule I have about homemade vs. store bought food applies here. I’m a total snob about what I choose to eat. If I can tell the gift is homemade and it’s AMAZING, I always eat that one over a gift I can tell was bought at a store. Then, I will either give the store bought gift to others, or I’ll freeze it if I think I’ll want it later.
I love to bake around the holidays, so a trick I always use is to have a good list of who I’ll be giving baked goods to, so that as soon as it comes out of the oven, I know where some of it is going. That way I can’t eat it all of it in one night! 😉
Working out over the holidays
Since the holidays generally mean a more relaxed schedule, working out sometimes takes a backseat to everything else. I just make a goal to move my body everyday. This could even mean a walk around the block. Or make your workout holiday themed with a fun playlist. Don’t put pressure on yourself, just get moving!
A few other things to help you stay healthy during the holiday season are remembering to wash your hands (duh!), get a flu vaccine to protect yourself during flu season, eat tons of fruits and veggies to strengthen your immune system, get Vitamin D and stay active. I recommend getting in some cardio every week to get your heart rate up (which will also give you endorphins which make you happy ;)) but ask a professional for medical advice if you’re unsure about your activity level.
The most important thing I want to say is to ENJOY your life. I do not recommend throwing out every single piece of junk food or saying no to every holiday party. That isn’t a balanced lifestyle, and it will make your healthy habits something you hate. The goal is –– say it with me now –– to take everything in stride. And for goodness sakes, have a good time!
Enjoy your holiday treats and your friends and family members and make a plan so that when January rolls around, you feel good about your habits.
Enjoy this holiday season!