guest post by Zach Scott, nutrition student at Winthrop University
It’s that time of year again! The weather is getting colder, holiday music is on every radio station (relentlessly), you may be scrambling to organize your gift list, making arrangements, and thinking of excuses to forego visiting your in-laws (#covid silver lining?). We are in the homestretch of 2020 (phew), and we are all feeling stressed (rightfully so). All of these things are going on, and we are trying to somehow maintain our fitness goals and not lose all the progress we’ve made. This may seem to be a nearly impossible task, but it is important to attack the holiday season with realistic expectations.
Here are some tips to help you stay on track during the holidays.
Tip 1: Cut Yourself a Break and Enjoy the Season!
You’re worried that the holidas and the associated meals will wreak havoc on the progress you’ve made. It’s important not to stress; this tine of year is already stressful enough. Allow yourself to stray (within reason) form your ordinary health goals. You won’t be in your regular routine, you might not be in your regular space, and you’ll be having bigger meals and extra snacks regularly. If you try to obsess over keeping the same health routine, you will drive yourself crazy. Instead, take a deep breath. It is ok to enjoy yourself! Remember why you began your health journey in the first place, and recognize that health goals are flexible, pliable, and adaptable. Your journey needs to fit your life – not the other way around!
Tip 2: Plan
Plan, plan, and plan some more. Don’t go into any situation without having some semblance of a game plan. I’m not saying to be the one weirdo family who shows up with their own Tupperware of prepped food. Instead, before any meal, set some realistic goals. For example, tell yourself “I’m going to enjoy one plate of food with half of my plate filled with colorful fruits & veggies. Then I’ll enjoy one slice of pie.” This is a realistic goal.
Also, be sure not to go into any holiday meal starving! If you get to the meal with an empty stomach, it’ll be incredibly difficult to turn down that 2nd (or 4th) helping of pumpkin pie. Instead, make sure that you have eaten some type of snack or meal in the hours preceding a holiday meal. Try and incorporate some type of fiber or protein in the snack so you’ll be able to prevent hunger longer than you would with an all-carbohydrate snack. Trail mix would be a great portable option.
Tip 3: Stay Active
You’re traveling and you’re away from your home gym or routine. Chances are, you are not as active as you were before the holiday season. This doesn’t mean that you have to fall off completely from living your active lifestyle. While you are out holiday shopping, park away from the store to get extra steps in. Take the stairs instead of the escalator at the mall. Take a short walk after a big family meal. This will aid in digestion and give you a break from family interaction (and who can’t use that?). Be creative and think of new ways to keep your body moving.
Tip 4: Get Back to “Normal”
Once the holidays are over, get back to your normal routine. Don’t sweat the fact that you may not have stuck to your regular routine and nutrition regimen. You made smart decisions throughout the holiday season without getting totally derailed. The new year gives you a great opportunity to re-evaluate your goals and put all of your focus back on your health and happiness. It’s always important not to focus on the minor pitfalls you may have experienced during the holidays, but to focus on the future instead. Remember, health is a journey, and it will wax and wane!