Sticking to your healthy lifestyle can be challenging, and this is especially true during the holidays. With all the parties, a very hectic schedule, and endless temptations, it’s easy to let the healthy habits that you’ve worked so hard to build slide during the festive season. These tips can help you stick to your healthy habits during the holidays! With some effort, you can indulge in your favourite holiday temptations and still keep your commitment to a healthy lifestyle intact.
1. Get Rid of the Guilt
Something that I feel needs to be stressed more is that being healthy does not just mean working out and eating no junk. Being healthy extends into your mental health too. When you punish yourself with guilt or shame for eating junk food, you’re putting yourself in a negative mindset. This behaviour usually just brings on more unhealthy behaviours.
So, get rid of that guilt.
Give yourself permission to enjoy your favourite treats guilt-free. If you eat more pieces of cake than you intended – it’s ok! You don’t need to add extra exercise to “burn the extra calories”. It is just one day in your journey, and no one’s journey is absolutely cake-free. Understand that it is okay to indulge every once in a while and that it will not put a stop to your journey.
2. Be Realistic
Setting a goal of “I will not eat a single item of junk food” can be a little unrealistic, and can also make your holidays even more stressful than they already are. Setting a realistic goal is key to keeping your motivation up and your ambition strong. After all, a healthy lifestyle can only be created when you strive to find a balance between healthy eating, keeping active, and not compromising your mental health.
A little planning will go a long way in helping you stick to your goal. Plan when you will eat, what you will eat, and when you will get some activity in. If you’re one who has a hard time saying no to junk food, try to plan what junk food you will eat at a party. You can try to plan your shopping route so that you are not passing the Cinnabon or Ice Cream Store a dozen times.
Keep in mind that you can say no to the food you don’t want to eat. You also can enjoy special holiday food without losing your entire health and fitness progress.
3. Eat Regularly
It is so important to keep your energy levels up and your belly satisfied, especially when surrounded by lots of temptations. Skipping meals is not an option. I cannot stress that more. Skipping meals can lead to overeating, especially during the evening hours. Start your day by getting a burst of energy in the morning with a balanced breakfast. Eat small meals every three to four hours to keep yourself satisfied. Cook your meals ahead of time and keep them in your freezer – this will make you less likely to feel the need to eat that cake as your dinner.
When you’re enjoying a holiday party, try to start with small portions and eat slowly. For dessert, start with the fruit before loading up on the cake.
If you find yourself saying “I’ll eat an extra piece of cake and skip breakfast tomorrow” – stop right there! You don’t need to skip a meal just because you had more dessert than you intended. Eating is about fueling your body and keeping your energy levels up. You body needs nutrients to survive and that comes from your balanced meals. Your mental health needs freedom and that, for you, may come from the cake.
4. Don’t Go Out Hungry
Playing into the third tip of “eat regularly”, try to not go anywhere hungry. You know how people say to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because you’ll overbuy? The same can be said here. Don’t go to a holiday party hungry because you will be more likely to overeat. Eat your regular meals and snacks before going to a party. This way, you will be less tempted to overindulge while there.
Eating before you go shopping is also a good idea. At this time of year, almost every store has some sort of festive food item they are trying to sell. From Santa-themed chocolate bars to Christmas tree cupcakes – it’s everywhere! With a full stomach, you won’t feel the need to pay the two dollars for the tiny treat.
5. Load up on Water
One way to keep yourself from reaching for the dessert is to load up on the water. If you don’t already own a reusable water bottle, go out and buy one that can hold up to four cups of water. Keep that on you at all times. Whenever you are really feeling like a piece of chocolate cake, take a drink of water first.
This will also help you from overloading on the alcohol. Have one cup of water in between each alcoholic drink. Not only will this help you drink less, but it will also help your hangover be a little more bearable the next day!
My favourite alcoholic beverage is two cups of water, a shot of vodka, with a package of crystal light mixed in! It’s my own homemade cooler that tastes absolutely delicious and keeps my water intake up.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
Often, we eat without paying attention. This can lead to overindulging and getting what is referred to as a “food coma” – where you are so full, you just want to lie down. One way to combat this is to practice mindful eating. Concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it. Focus on the food and how you feel with each bite. Ask yourself if you’re actually enjoying it, or if you are eating it because you liked how it smelled or look.
Choose your foods wisely. Fill your plate with foods that will give you true enjoyment or at least, true nutrition. If it doesn’t make your taste buds dance, it doesn’t need to be put on your plate.
7. Get an Accountability Group
Having an accountability group, or even just one single partner, can be extremely helpful. Connecting with someone, sharing your goals and accomplishments – it allows you to feel empowered.
This isn’t to say your partner or group should be disappointed in you if you skip a workout or eat an extra piece of cake- we all need to understand that life is about moderation. Your partner, instead, can help you get back into your groove and strive for your ultimate goal.
You can find some awesome accountability groups online through Facebook, Reddit, and even Instagram!
8. Get Those Steps
During the holidays, it is often extra hard to get in your regular workout schedule. Between wrapping presents and attending parties, it can be difficult to find a solid hour to do your workout routine.
So, get moving. Go for a family walk after your meal. Maybe go skating or have a snowball fight!
If you need to buy a gift, head to the mall before relying on online shopping. Having to fight the crowds and stand in line is definitely a workout! Add in an extra lap or two. If you’re not a fan of the mall (don’t blame you), try to do your online shopping while doing some squats or wall sitting. Make a game out of it – each time you see a holiday-themed ad, do 10 pushups!
9. Rest Up
When you’re going out more and staying out later, you’re losing out on sleep. Getting a good amount of sleep helps control blood sugar and energy levels. On top of this, sleep deprivation leads to a desire to eat more high-fat foods.
If you know you’re going to lose out on sleep one night of your week, try to plan to get more sleep on the other nights. It’s not a perfect solution, but it will help you for the short-term!
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