Healthy habits for the holidays
The holidays are often filled with parties, seasonal foods, family time, and shopping sprees. While all these things can be fun, they can also be as equally stressful. If you find it challenging to engage in self-care and maintain a health and fitness routine during this time of the year, you’re not alone. All it takes is a little planning, setting boundaries, some flexibility, and dedication to look and feel your best in the winter. Here are eight tips for adopting healthier habits during the holidays:
1. Identify roadblocks
Before embarking on a new diet or fitness routine, try to figure out what triggers you to skip a workout or overindulge in less nutritious foods. Once you have identified roadblocks, you can come up with a plan to minimize their impact. For instance, if staying out late causes you to miss your early morning yoga class, try to go to bed at an earlier time or take an evening yoga class.
2. Get your steps in
If the idea of getting to the gym or scheduling time for an exercise class seems daunting, don't panic. Instead, focus on getting at least 10,000 steps daily. Use a fitness tracker, like FitBit or Apple Watch, to track your steps. Try to walk whenever and wherever you can. Every step counts!
3. Sleep more
Are you getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night? If you're sleep-deprived, you won't have the energy to exercise, and you'll be more likely to overindulge in foods with empty calories. Set a consistent sleep schedule and stick with it.
4. Find a workout buddy
If you tend to exercise alone, this might be an excellent time to partner up with a friend for accountability. Schedule a few days a week to hike, run, do yoga or go to the gym together.
5. Set a short-term goal
You don't have to wait until it's New Year's to begin setting goals. Pick one thing you want to work on for December and focus on achieving that goal. Examples include working out three days a week or training for a 5K race.
6. Work out in the mornings
You should consider planning your workouts for the mornings during the holiday season so you aren't distracted later on by parties, events, or other holiday activities. This will give you consistency and allow you to create an exercise routine.
7. Get creative
During the holidays, get creative with exercise and opt for fun ways to get your cardio in. This could involve taking new fitness classes either online or in-person and walking around the neighborhood with friends and family.
8. Make healthier versions
Given there are so many parties during the holiday season, it's easy to focus on less nutritious foods that are higher in sugar and fat. While cookies and cakes are completely fine to eat in moderation, be sure also to eat nutrient-dense foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. For instance, consider making chocolate chip cookies using whole wheat flour, dark chocolate, and monk fruit for a healthier twist. Or serve carrots and celery with hummus as an appetizer at a party.
Remember that no one's perfect
Maintaining a health and fitness routine during the holidays can be challenging. If you end up skipping some workouts or forgetting to sneak in some nutritious meals, don't sweat it too much. The reality is that one day won't make or break your goals. Just get back on the wagon, and just don't let your one day of slipping up turn into a habit.
- "8 Secrets to Staying Fit During the Holidays," US News and World Report, November 20, 2015.
- "14 Simple Ways to Stay Fit During the Holidays," Active, n.d.