It’s that time of the year when you brace yourselves to make New Year’s resolutions AFTER you’ve eaten your fill of Christmas feasts and guilt washes over you. Or it’s that time of the year you decide that your wardrobe could use more spandex outfits to fit you at any size. How about trying a different approach? Instead of approaching the holidays with a certain fear and anxiety about all the delicious food you want to eat but think to yourself you mustn’t, how about coming up with a strategy and mindset that will set you up for success not just during Christmas, but for every occasion and celebration as well?
Here are some quick and practical tips to help you survive and thrive the holiday season.
- Have a plan. When it comes to fitness and health, you can’t just “wing it.” You need to be deliberate and strategic if you want to succeed. A lot of fitness-minded folks track their macros and are aware of their calorie intake on a daily basis and so holidays don’t make things any different. They’ve found a way to make smart eating a part of their lifestyle and everyday routine. If you want to make sure you don’t go overboard or end up being eaten alive by your guilt at the end of every dinner party, you might want to try tracking your macros and calorie intake. This will help you figure out how much you can eat and then you can choose wisely. (Pro tip: choose treats or dishes that are usually only served during the holidays or that you don’t get to eat on a regular basis.)
- Pre-gaming is not just for drinks. If you have been following a sensible and flexible diet, one that’s generally clean but has room for some cheats, you might want to eat your meals before heading out. When you arrive at the party, you won’t be famished and can avoid making rash decisions such as a chicken fried steak with waffles, extra gravy, and three biscuits because you’re so hungry. Perhaps you can order a salad with dressing on the side (so you can control how much of their “homemade” dressing gets in your greens) or you can save your calories for a good dessert. (Pro tip: HYDRATE! We learned in previous posts that hunger and thirst have similar symptoms, so before stuffing your mouth with grub, try drinking a glass of water first.)
- Smart drinking is key! Of course you’ll want an eggnog. Or maybe some wine (or if you’re like me, a nice shot of single malt–neat). I’m not here to be a killjoy and tell you to stay off the alcohol. Maybe it’s that one day of the year you actually indulge in it, so go ahead and enjoy yourself. But be smart. For every alcoholic drink, have a glass and a half of water. This will keep you from getting drunk easily, and will fill you up with more water than sugary alcoholic drinks. Yes, you may take frequent trips to the bathroom but you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
- Get your workout in first thing in the morning. Most people struggle with making time for the gym or any exercise because they usually end up rushing to a dinner party after work. If you work out in the morning, you’ll at least have gotten that out of the way and can take pride in the fact that you didn’t let your exercise routine fall on the wayside. It’s so important to stay consistent. Holidays are no excuse to skip your workout routine. Think about all the hard work you’ve already put in months prior. Don’t let all of that go to waste over a yule log or a half dozen ginger cookies (like I’ve done before, admittedly).
- Pick your battles. While you certainly have every right to enjoy the festivities, don’t feel powerless about saying no to overindulgence. Pick a lunch or dinner engagement where you’ll be a little more lenient with yourself and food choices but don’t go on a cheat-meal rampage with every single invitation sent to you. I normally would choose to indulge (wisely) during a dinner party where the invited guests are all very dear friends of mine whom I don’t get to see often. I’ll eat a little bit of anything I fancy and will have a glass or two of my chosen drink for the entire duration of my stay. Just enough so I can say I enjoyed myself, but not too much so that the guilt doesn’t eat me up.
- Enjoy yourself. Yes! What’s the point to fitness if you can’t enjoy your journey, right? That’s why it’s so essential to establish a good foundation of proper nutrition and exercise that you can keep building upon. When you put in the hours and days and weeks of discipline and commitment, it becomes a good habit that will yield positive results. So go ahead, and enjoy. After all, ’tis the season to be jolly!
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