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How to Have a Happy Healthy Holiday Season

Posted Dec 04 2011 12:00am

Hello! This is my first time participating in a Fitness Blog World network post where members blog on a shared topic. I’m looking forward to hearing others’ tips for staying on track through the holiday season.

The weeks from Thanksgiving through New Years are filled with special occasions, seasonal treats, and lots of fun times with family and friends. Obviously, we all want to enjoy the holidays, and now is not the time for total deprivation and rigidity. I’ve identified a handful of strategies that help me make it through with my waistline and fitness level in tact.

1. Make working out a priority. This is generally a good idea all the time, but especially during the holiday season. I may have a hard time saying no to my favorite treats, but I am definitely able to fit in my exercise! See if you can add in a little extra movement each week, whether it’s an extra day at the gym or meeting friends for a walk instead of lunch.

2. Identify things that motivate you and hold you accountable. I’m participating in a couple online holiday challenges – HBBC and #back2basics . The camaraderie and support of like-minded people really provide an extra boost to head out on a run when I’d rather watch Home Alone while drinking hot chocolate on the couch. I’ve also signed up for a half marathon on March 17. While the race is still a ways out, it’s providing me with motivation to keep my mileage up. Better to keep the base that I have rather than start from fresh. I’m also in the market for a Jingle Bell or New Years run. Any suggestions?

3. Pack your lunch. It’s likely that whatever you bring is more nutritious than what you would buy. Plus, you save a little cash that can be used for gifts :)  I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought supplies to pack my lunch for work all week. I got a big container of lettuce, chickpeas, greek yogurt, fresh fruit. By eating healthy at lunch throughout the week, I have a little more wiggle room on the weekends.

4. Have healthy snacks available. I’m a grazer and tend to eat something every couple hours. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed a mid-afternoon snack at the office and given in to a coworker’s candy bowl. If I had some fruit, cut up veggies, or raw nuts available I would have gladly eaten those instead. Lesson leaned: Make sure healthy snacks are available.

5. Indulge in what you REALLY enjoy. How many times have you had a cookie or piece of cake because it was readily available just to realize that it really wasn’t that good. Identify what you really enjoy, and have some of that, but not everything else that comes your way. Packaged cookies or coffee cakes are never as satisfying as a homemade goods.

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6. Find healthier substitutions that satisfy your cravings. I’ve recently discovered two items that satisfy my sweet tooth: Starbucks Skinny Peppermint Mocha and Soy Nog. A tall SPM is only 100 calories, and it counts as a serving of dairy. Soy nog is also much lower in fat and calories than the original. I figure it’s a win if I have one of those as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or after-dinner dessert rather than a piece of cake.

7. Drink lots of water. Thirst is frequently confused with hunger. When in doubt, drink a glass of water. Water fills you up and will likely help you eat less. Alternate alcoholic beverages with a glass of water. You’ll feel better, trust me.

8. Focus on the people, not the food. When you’re at a party, stand out of reach of the food table. Make it a point to enjoy the conversation of people you haven’t seen in a while. Another tip: hold a glass of water. It’ll make it more difficult to maneuver a loaded plate of goodies.

9. Be forgiving. No need to get all bent out of shape by one (or even two!) off days. Healthy living is a marathon not a sprint. A day or two of overindulgence isn’t going to undo everything. Better just to put it behind you and start fresh the next day.

Those are my strategies for surviving the holidays and ringing in the New Year at least as fit as I am now. Check out Fitness Blog World and see what others’ recommend.

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