The holiday season is in full swing. This means you know I am scouring the Internet for deals and seeing how much rush shipping will cost me. You know I am spending the evenings wrapping presents while tuning into 25 days of Christmas on ABC family because let’s face it, who isn’t? But do you recall my biggest vice of all? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Rudolf.
Historically, my health and fitness regimen during the holiday season put me on the naughty list. And that means it’s beginning to look a lot like … I won’t fit into my jeans come the new year. This year I took the holiday season head on and tried implementing some quick tips to stay fit during the holidays. It’s time to get on top of the stress, sweets, and temptations that I’ve fallen victim to in years past.
“Stay Fit During the Holidays” Calendar
This year I implemented a fitness calendar for the month of December. I used a basic Google sheets document but if you’re a hands-on person, grab a piece of printer or craft paper. This calendar functions on a points system. I started by evaluating what I felt were my weaknesses. I concluded that sweets, adult libations, and skipping the gym are my weakness. I then rated these “weaknesses” based off of my conclusion of importance.
For everyday that I workout in the AM, I receive one point, and a PM workout is worth two points. Each day that I do not indulge in a sweet treat or include alcohol in my diet, I add a point. The most I can gather on any given day is 5 points. Then when I want to treat myself, I can “cash” in my points. This holiday health calendar is a simple way to keep me honest and on track. Just because it is the holiday season does not mean that I have to completely ditch my normal fitness and health routines.
Start baking for the holidays
Another great tip I try (emphasis on try) to maintain is to bake after a meal. The rule of thumb is to bake in the evening after a full dinner. Let’s be honest, who has time or energy to bake late into the evening? To compromise, I do try to consider baking after I’ve had a proper meal. This seems like a simple concept but the reality is that it is not always as easy to execute.
If you only have a few hours on Saturday morning, try to squeeze in a quick bowl of granola and fruit or egg whites and spinach omelet before pulling out the recipe book for a morning marathon of grandma’s secret cookie recipe. This will curve your temptation to indulge in the sugary sweets that are coming hot out of the oven.
Beat holiday stress with yoga
Holiday stress is real and can start early and last all month long. Have in-laws coming to town? Or perhaps you’re trying to meet a year-end deadline. Try some yoga or simple stretching exercises. I never realized how much stress I am able to shake off simply by taking the effort to sit down and stretch.
Stress can cause strain mentally and physically. This can quickly cause our muscles to tense up. I speak from experience. Yoga or simple stretching is the perfect exercise to let go of some pent-up stress. I used YouTube to find a 15-minute deep breathing and stretching exercise for myself.
Try setting aside isolated time to focus on your breathing, even if it is a simple 5-10 minutes a day. It makes a world of difference when I arrive at work and feel calm, relaxed and ready to take on the day.
Healthy eating during the holidays
I am also a serious culprit of stress eating. I’ve narrowed down a few easy and healthy snacks to help aid my craving. If you have time to sit down for a snack, Asparagus is my go-to. The veggie contains folate, which aids our central nervous system and has proven to help with cognitive function. Fruits such as berries or oranges contain vitamin C, which has proven to help combat stress. Both are easy on-the-go snacks.
Nuts, air-popped popcorn, or even kale chips are also a great snack to combat stress. Eating something crunchy tricks our brain into thinking we’re letting go of some stress or anger. A pinch of salt is also a cure to cravings. Tea such as Chamomile or Green tea also works as a soothing agent.
Skip the mall food during the holidays
And then, of course there is my arch nemesis: the mall food court. After shopping all day long I all tend to exhaust my creative juices while attempting to purchase the perfect gifts for the entire extended family. Eventually my dogs start to bark, my arms are tied down with oversized bags, and my stomach is growling.
One study shows that the more you unload, the less you are likely to over-order at the food court. Unload those bags in the trunk of your car or have a friend watch your purchases while you order. With fewer items in tow, you give your mind the opportunity to think clearly and evaluate exactly how hungry you are and order accordingly. This avoids the post-meal guilt and helps dodge the soft-serve ice cream bar. But if you must, go for the froyo and fruit topping. After all, it is the holiday season, treat yourself.
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Christmas cake, Santa Cartoon, Yoga, Vegetables and Vegetables vertical via ShutterStock.com