The holiday season is a busy time. Between parties, shopping and fitting in visit with all sides if the family. It can be hard to keep up with your regular routine. I know I tend to over indulge over the holidays not just on treats but I also over-indulge the demands of others on my time as well. With a little effort you can totally keep up with your healthy routine over the holidays.
The way I see it there are three main challenges to maintaining a healthy routine during the busy holiday season. The first is sticking to your meal-prepping and diet with an abundance of holiday sweets and treats showing up everywhere you go and holiday menus often resembling modern day feasts. The second is finding time to keep up with your gym routine with frequent shopping trips, events, parties and gift-exchanges taking up a lot of your free time. The final challenge is curbing stress and prioritizing your emotional well-being when it seems like obligations just keep piling on your plate. I’ve put together my best tips to combat each of these challenges. Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!
Challenge 1: Sticking to your Healthy Diet
For most people holiday traditions center around food. From baking gingerbread cookies, to devouring fruit-cakes and candy canes, sipping cocktails and sitting around the table for large family feasts, these traditions don’t make it easy to stick to your regular healthy diet. Now I’m not advocating for skipping all of your favorite holiday indulgences, but I do suggest finding a balance that won’t leave you regretting any of your meal choices.
- Try tracking your calorie intake with an app like MyFitnessPal. This makes it a lot easier to prioritize which “cheat meals” are worth it and how to still meet your weekly calorie goal. For example consider adding a lean low calorie option for lunch like a grilled chicken breast salad topped with a simple vinaigrette when you know you have a big dinner ahead of you.
- Consider hosting a holiday dinner. This puts you in charge of the menu and you can adapt many traditional recipes to make them healthier without compromising on flavor. For example considering substituting equal parts sour cream and Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise in potato salad and you’ll significantly reduce the calories!
- Don’t attend cocktail parties starving. It’ll be much harder to resist getting full on high calorie options like crackers and cheese. Eat a sensible dinner before going and consider avoiding sugary cocktails in favor of a classic gin and tonic or my personal favorite an unsweetened mojito.
- Make time for meal-prepping! This is by far the most important tip. My healthy diet would be out the window without weekly meal-prepping sessions. I like to bake trays of veggies like carrots, turnips, brussel sprouts, beets and cubed butternut squash to eat as sides. Also chili is a great meal-prepping option because it seems to actually taste better on the second and third day.
Challenge 2: Fitting in the Gym
With extra trips to the mall, holiday events and gift-exchanges there might seem to be less and less time for the gym on weekday evenings. Making time for your workouts will not only help relieve some of the stress of the season, exercise will leave you feeling energized to tackle the rest of your day!
- Put your workouts in your calendar or set a reminder phone alarm. Taking this extra step to write down your goals makes it easier to stick with them and prevents you from double-booking.
- Try out a morning workout. It will leave you feeling accomplished and motivated to make the most of the rest of the day.
- Recruit an accountability partner and let them know at the beginning of the week how many workouts you’ve scheduled for yourself. After each workout check in or send a sweaty selfie. This works great with a friend who also hopes to maintain their healthy routine during the holidays. Keep each other honest and inspired to reach your goals.
Challenge 3: Prioritizing your Emotional Well-being
The holidays season often takes you out of your regular routine. With additional errands and obligations some days may seem chaotic and overwhelming. This is especially true with a new baby. I remember my first Christmas with my daughter, when she was just five weeks old, the large family gatherings I normally look forward to left me feeling completely exhausted. Imagine a loud and full house and countless people (some of which you don’t know well) wanting to hold your baby or hover over you. I found myself retreating to nurse in a quiet room and spending longer and longer in there with each feed or diaper change. We ended up leaving the party early. I knew I had a sleepless night ahead of me and I did what felt right despite family members wanting us to stay longer. Self-care is especially important during the times when it feels like we don’t have a second to spare, when we’re juggling extra tasks and working overtime to get everything done.
- Complete a five-minute meditation every day. Many guided meditation videos exist online and it’s easy to follow along even if you’ve never tried it before. It will leave you much more relaxed and centered after a few short minutes.
- Try stretching or simple yoga poses before bed. We carry stress in our muscles and it can leave you tight and sore. Making stretching a part of your everyday routine will make a big difference in alleviating pain and improving your emotional well-being.
- When you have a million things to do, they often come to mind right as you’re trying to fall asleep. Thinking about all your upcoming tasks before bed can result in an interrupted and less restful sleep. Instead try going over all the positive things about your day and remind yourself of what you accomplished as you’re trying to fall asleep. Let your last thoughts before bed be optimistic ones.
- Don’t be afraid to say no to activities that feel like obligations or are weighing heavily on your mind. It’s okay to put yourself first. Remember the first large family gathering with my newborn daughter I mentioned earlier? Leaving early reinforced a valuable lesson for me, that it’s important to speak up and advocate for the time you need to unwind or practice self-care activities. Even a long warm shower can do wonders after a stressful day. Take care of yourself so that you have the energy to take care of everyone else.
I hope these tips help make this holiday season as productive and stress-free as possible. Remember to not be hard on yourself on the days that don’t go as planned. You did the best you could and that’s more than enough. Tomorrow’s another day to accomplish your goals; the important thing is to stay positive and believe in your capabilities. Happy Holidays!