We all know the secrets to surviving the temptations before attending a cocktail or dinner party (drink a big glass of water beforehand, fill up on veggies and fruit from the buffet table, eat just a nibble of the calorie-rich foods, sip on seltzer water all evening or skip the drinks that lower your resistance to temptation). And of course, we know it’s important to get at least some rigorous activity or moderate exercise every day.
With all of this in mind, the holiday bonanza that started around Halloween continues onward through the new year and is quite a gauntlet for most health-conscious people to navigate. With New Year’s Resolutions going into effect soon, here are 19 ways to stay fit during the holidays:
- Schedule your activity Plan daily activities like yard work, long dog walks, biking with the family, getting the winter clothes out of storage, putting up or taking down holiday decorations, working out at SSC and taking Zone Classes. By putting these activities on the calendar, your healthy activity won’t be relegated to the “if I get around to it” category. You’ll feel better and have more stamina for the holidays by scheduling regular exercise and activity.
- Pay attention to your thoughts Don’t think “I’d better eat this before it’s gone.” Not only will there be plenty of treats for you to enjoy now, but also there will be plenty later, too. Don’t think they are scarce when you can always buy more, obtain the recipe and make it yourself or ask the friend to tell you where to get some. “Do it now” just amps up the impetus to act irrationally.
- Give it away Bake all the yummy things you love, but don’t eat them. You can indulge by going through the process of baking cookies, cakes, pies and other treats for your loved ones – just emphasize your loved ones! Bake treats with love and maybe keep one or two slices for yourself. Then, burnish your reputation as a generous, giving soul by giving them away! You’ll get two flowers from one seed by giving in to your desire to bake and then giving those diet-busting items away!
- Leftovers for everyone Cook the main dish and fat-laden sides that are a part of your cherished family tradition. Just make sure everyone leaves with leftovers. Most of us have dozens of containers we can use for this purpose, so spread it around among your guests. They’ll appreciate not having to cook the next day.
- RSVP with care If you are accustomed to attending two dozen holiday events with tons of temptations, reconsider. Do you really need to attend every one of them? Can you pare it down somewhat and still achieve your goal? Can you bring a healthy dish and mainly eat that? Can you seek out other health-conscious attendees and chat them up instead of grazing the buffet table?
- Turn drudgery into joy Are there some unpleasant aspects of your family holiday gatherings that make you want to guzzle eggnog or mainline chocolate? How about reducing the emotional trauma of family interactions by creating a list of safe or fun topics to discuss. Ask a teenager about the myriad social media they use. Ask an oldster about the first movie theater they attended and the films they saw there. Invite another to tell you about the newest skill they achieved. By increasing the joy of our events, we reduce the need for emotional overeating.
- Seek birds of a feather Spend time with other health-conscious people throughout the holidays, then text or email them about your fitness challenges and ask about theirs. Celebrate your victories over troublesome unhealthy habits. Strategize how to handle your most difficult challenges, and partner with them for exercise or healthy treats like a massage or a mani/pedi. The trainers and instructors at SSC are always here for you too!
- Be human You were given those taste buds for a good reason, so enjoy some of your favorite treats this holiday season. But it’s the dose that makes the poison as they say, so watch the volume and frequency of your intake. One or two treats a week throughout the season is a reasonable dose. More than that will necessitate longer workouts at SSC, so choose wisely! We’ll see you there!
- No food zones Many of us settle in for hours of holiday specials and movie viewing at this time of year. To avoid mindless snacking, create No Food Zones in your home and car for the whole family. You’ll prevent the ingestion of hundreds of calories!
- Hang your fabulous outfit in the kitchen If you have a special event coming up and want to fit into a designer tux or gown, hang it in the kitchen. It might prevent you from snacking and will spark interesting conversations with visitors to your home.
- Healthy home With so many snacks and treats available at home, school and parties, make a pact with your family to eat only healthy meals at home (and no dessert!) throughout the rest of 2015.
- Encourage family time Have the kids join you in raking leaves, building snowmen, going for long walks with the dog, participating in a snowball fight or other energetic family activities.
- Plan ahead All of us should eat three to five small meals a day – don’t be caught in the shopping mall surrounded by temptations without a healthy choice! Pack a lunch and keep granola bars, nuts, pretzels, sugarless gum and healthy snacks in your purse and car.
- Get out of your rut If you have only a small number of food options you tend to serve for dinner each week, you might just be in need of some novelty! Add different cuisines to the mix and shop for unusual fruit, vegetables and grains from other cultures to make dinner at your house an event.
- Don’t weigh yourself every day Instead, try on your skinny jeans a few times a week. Make a mental note about how much longer it will take you to fit into them, then stay the course of diet and exercise.
- Be a teetotaler Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and reduces your resistance to temptations. Avoid drinking most days of the week and limit yourself to just one or two on the other days to reduce your overall caloric intake. You may be surprised as to how many calories are in just one of your favorite beverages.
- Watch what you eat Literally. Look at your food, smell your food, notice the colors and spices in each bite. Savor each mouthful and chew it thoroughly. Enjoy each sip of your beverage. Most of us spend so much time eating mindlessly while paying attention to our electronics that we hardly notice what we consume. Enjoy your food and you’ll end up eating less.
- Slow down The hustle and bustle of the holidays can lower our ability to cope with stress, further inducing an eating binge. Build in time to nap, meditate, have quiet time or read poetry. Watch the snow fall. Listen to relaxing music. Get a full night’s sleep as often as possible. You’ll feel much better each day.
- Be grateful Take inventory of your blessings: health, family, education, house, job, friends and the myriad other things that we often take for granted. Write down five things you’re grateful for everyday, like heated seats, a hot beverage on a cold day, the smile of a child, the warm greeting from a beloved pet, a good book – you get the idea. There is more joy in the world the more you look for it!
– Catherine “Cat” Strerrett, Personal Trainer