I always spend the Holidays with my family–real meat and potatoes Midwesterners. Everything is structured around food–when we’re going to eat, what we’re going to eat, etc. We start planning dinner before eating supper, there are trays of candy, cookies, dips, spreads, and nuts everywhere, and overindulging then sleeping it off in front of the TV is wholly encouraged. And then there’s the calorie-laden adult beverages…so, as someone who whole-heartedly loves all things food and drink, this is naturally my favorite time of year.
This is the first year I can remember where I’m not giving myself a pass for the holidays. I’m not going into this season with the mindset that I can just start again when it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. I’m actively planning how to be successful this holiday season. While I’m obviously no expert here, I think it’s really all about the basics and maintaining my schedule regardless of others.
Here are my five tips to stay on track during the holidays:
1. Make your own food
It is the best way to control what, exactly, you’re putting in your mouth. I was scared that I offend my grandmother by doing this. She is an amazing cook, notorious for overfeeding and her use of butter. But after asking, I found she was more than happy to let me invade her kitchen–she has been super supportive of my journey. I also found my family willing to partake in my healthy offerings.
2. Allow yourself one specific indulgence
Choose one thing and really savor the indulgence. What is life if you can’t enjoy it once in awhile? The holidays are my favorite time of year and I want to enjoy them–I can be rigid the rest of the year. For Thanksgiving this year, I chose to indulge in a little liquid therapy: vodka.
Being away from the gym or home, in wintery climates, etc. is no excuse not to work out. Thanksgiving morning, I got up early and went for a run. I also took some time to complete a workout I found on Pinterest. Seriously, both Pinterest and Self magazine have a bunch of great quick workouts that can be done anywhere with minimal or no equipment. When all else fails, just get out and walk. Or play active games with younger family members. Or stand in a corner and do jumping jacks, some push-ups, crunches…just be active.
4. Log everything
I track my calories and exercise on My Fitness Pal. If you don’t use an online tracking tool like that, write down what you eat in a notebook, keep a running mental list, or, if you have a family member you don’t particularly like, bore them to death by telling them bite for bite what you’ve eaten that day. Having that written or verbal list of what you’ve put in your pie hole is a very effective form of accountability.
I feel completely different when I don’t get my water in for the day. I feel puffy, my mind feels foggy, I retain water, and I’m crabby. Whether some of that is psychological, I don’t know. But it makes a difference for me. I have taken to buying a few gallons of drinking water whenever I head to my family’s for a weekend, and I set it and my water bottle in plain sight. That way it’s a present reminder to hydrate.
What do you do to stay healthy and on track during the holidays?