Have a Healthy Holiday: 9 Simple Ways to Stay in Shape this Season

Ah, the holidays. The season of giving, family gatherings and celebrations, Christmas music and holiday baking. Some days, winter break involves lounging around in Christmas-themed footie pajamas and binge-watching Netflix while eating sugar cookie dough from the tub. And that’s okay—everything in moderation, right? Although this behavior may be acceptable once or twice to celebrate the season, it’s still important to be mindful of the way you are treating your body. Here are nine simple ways to stay on track towards your fitness goals during the holidays.

1. Stay moving and get into a routine

During the holidays, our schedules can become pretty busy with travel, events and celebrations. Setting up a designated time every day to get yourself moving— and actually sticking to that time (no excuses!)—will help tremendously when you are struggling to find your motivation during the holidays. We all have our favorite time of the day to work out, so pick a time, any time, and schedule an appointment with yourself that you can't miss.

2. Make smart food choices

Leave those Christmas cookies for Santa and his reindeer. Try making smart food choices when you are baking holiday treats, attending family gatherings or celebrating with friends. Doing something as simple as making sure you include a serving of vegetables with your meal can help decrease the likelihood that you will feel the need to indulge on sugary treats.

3. Be realistic

Let’s be honest with ourselves here: the holidays are not the time to try and lose weight. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the winter months by staying active and eating mindfully while still enjoying your favorite holiday foods in moderation.

4. Set long term goals

Going on a tropical vacay for Spring Break? Start your exercise plan now! The winter months will pass before you know it. Get a leg up on that workout routine you've been putting off to start until "after New Years" or "on the first of the month." Take the time now to put living a healthy lifestyle at the top of your priority list.

5. Don't skip meals

Skipping meals before your family dinner is a recipe for overeating. Try not to think of skipping meals, especially breakfast, as simply "saving room" for your big holiday feast as your motto this year. When we skip a meal, we slow down our metabolisms. We will also be MUCH hungrier by the time dinner rolls around, which will lead to a couple of extra servings of honey baked ham and sweet potato casserole (oops.) Try starting your day with a wholesome bowl of oatmeal to stay full and satisfied throughout the day.

6. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can help you feel fuller before you eat and decrease the chance of you overindulging. After your feast, water is important for aiding digestion and breaking down food so your body can utilize the nutrients. 

7. Try making a healthy dish

There are so many healthy baking substitutes that can be easily incorporated into your favorite holiday dish. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Black beans for white flour

2. Unsweetened applesauce for sugar

3. Mashed banana for butter

4. Mashed avocado for butter

5. Stevia for sugar

6. Cacao nibs for chocolate chips

7. Almond flour, coconut flour or whole wheat flour for white flour

8. Rolled oats for bread crumbs

 

8. Try something new

Mix up your workouts to keep things interesting and avoid getting in that dreaded "exercise rut." Lack of motivation can sometimes come from boredom. Grab some friends, and try a new workout class. Pilates, hot yoga, kickboxing and even dancing are great ways to torch calories without even going near the typical treadmill.

9. Grab a friend

Use the buddy system! Finding a friend that shares the same fitness goals as you do will help keep both of you accountable along the journey. A workout partner should be encouraging, supportive and, most importantly, be there to remind you why you started. 

 

Have a happy, healthy holiday! These tips are only a few of many ways to stay healthy during the Christmas season. Enjoy your time celebrating with friends and family, but keep in mind that every day is an opportunity to take the next step towards achieving your fitness goals.