Holidays! The cool breezes of fall, sweater weather, and pumpkin spice everything. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve. Hot beverages, peppermint scents, ooey-gooey cookies that warm the heart. Party after party, event after event. We’re elated and tired. Anxious and stressed. Overjoyed and ready for the parties to end. We splurge on desserts and gift giving, and most of us are left broke and bloated by the time January rolls around.
Yes. The holidays can be stressful. But stressing about your diet, your weight, your workouts during the time that you’re supposed to be spending with family and friends can take a pretty big toll on your mental health. Why stress about things you don’t need to worry about while you can actually enjoy your special moments with those who matter most? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just enjoy making wonderful memories with our loved ones and not worry about how much fat was in the eggnog and how you missed your class at the gym because you needed to wrap gifts?
If you take the time to employ these seven strategies below, you can totally survive the holidays without stress and even better-without extra pounds. Read these until they’ve completely sunk in–or print them out and stick them where you can see them every day. If you’re persistent and stick true to YOU, you can totally do this!
1. Get to know yourself better. If you already know that candy canes are your favorite treat, don’t try to avoid them all season. Your favorite holiday treat may actually make a wonderful post-workout carb that you can eat without guild with your protein shake. And if you allow yourself a small treat each day, you’re much more likely to avoid binging on holiday foods later.
2. Alternate your drinks with water, especially when out at a party. If you have a glass of wine, sip it slowly and then drink a glass of water before more wine. Try to stick to two beverages if possible and drink a lot of water. Seltzer water with limes and a straw may be satisfying enough without allowing others to continuously offer you other beverages.
3. Eat a healthy meal made up of protein, good fats, and healthy starches (sweet potatoes/quinoa/veggies) before you go out. You’ll be less likely to eat the other sugary foods when you get to the party if you’re already full. And if you are hungry when you get to the party, scope out all the foods before making a plate. Pick one or two items you really want and put those on your plate. Then fill the rest of your plate with veggies and fruits, meats, and even a few pieces of cheese. Think high protein and those one or two special treats you’re eyeing. Be smart but don’t deny yourself. It’s a great time of year.
4. Are you the one hosting the parties? Look up healthy holiday foods! You can totally get on Pinterest right this very minute and plan a party by looking up healthier holiday sides. You can bake gluten-free sweets, low sugar treats, and you can always substitute healthier ingredients for not-so-healthy ones. Yogurt is a good substitute for mayo and sour cream. Applesauce is a good substitute for oil. You can make any party favorite at least a little healthier if you just look for the best ingredients possible for the dish. Are you hosting Thanksgiving? Plan gluten-free cornbread stuffings, several veggie side dishes, lessen the sugar in the sweet potatoes, avoid eating bread even if you fix it (unless it’s that one thing you really look forward to it) and have just one dessert. Turkey is healthy, veggies are healthy, fruit platters and olives, cheese trays are fantastic, and a few mashed potatoes with gravy on the side are not going to kill you. And if you’re attending a dinner? Dig into the turkey, have small servings of starches, and load up on fruits and veggies. You know what’s healthy and what isn’t. You know what you need and what you don’t. There’s no reason you can’t walk away feeling good about your choices–even when they’re limited.
5. You still have to enjoy yourself. You’re not going to be happy if you walk away feeling deprived. Sure, there are people out there who don’t mind saying no to pumpkin cheesecake, but you know what? You’re allowed to have pumpkin cheesecake with your family on Thanksgiving if you really want to. You deserve to enjoy your day–Thanksgiving, Christmas, whatever it may be–without guilt or worry. If you’re out there working hard, hitting the gym five-ish days a week and eating clean–you don’t have to sit back and just watch your family enjoy dessert without you. And no, it’s not an excuse to go overboard. You work hard because you value your life and you understand the importance of good health. You know what good health means? Being happy. Enjoying your life because you’ve made it better for yourself. If you want to enjoy yourself without restriction for a couple of days, you are allowed. Don’t binge on peppermint ice cream for two weeks. Don’t get sloshed off the spiced eggnog and end up ordering pizza at 1am. Be sensible, but allow yourself the ability to choose what will make you happy for a day or two.
6. You still need to exercise. Hit the gym as much as your schedule allows. Drink a lot of water, especially to avoid the excess sodium and sugar when possible. Take long walks with friends, loved ones, your pets. Go sledding. Stay active. If you do these things, you will survive the holidays just fine. Just keep moving.
7. What’s your motivation, your reason to make it to the other side unscathed? Do you want to set an example for your children? Impress your family? Prove to yourself that YOU can make this year, this season, the best it’s ever been? Your motivation will take you further than anything else I can write here. Think about it. Why is this important to you? Why are you here? Where will you go after this? If you don’t have a reason to believe in yourself, surviving the holidays will be tough. You NEED a why. Why does this matter to you? Who’s looking up to you right now? Who’s waiting for you to fail? Find your motivation.
Think about this right now: What or who motivates you to want to be healthier, stronger, fitter, live longer, and happier?
Figuring out how to motivate yourself as an individual is step one in living a healthier life. Once you’re motivated, the rest becomes easy.
So let’s find that motivation.
Answer the following questions:
- Why are you reading this post?
- Who motivates you to be healthier and fitter? And why?
- For whom do you want to become fitter and healthier? Explain.
Find your why. Let this drive you in your moments of weakness and never lose sight of your goals. You can do this!