Do the words “holidays” and “healthy” even belong in the same sentence?
They seem impossible to go together, but they can happen with practical tips and planning.
Last year I gained between five and seven pounds from October to December. I also decreased my exercise habits when we had fewer hours of daylight. By early January, I was moody, sluggish, and depressed. I don’t want to repeat that mistake this year.
I’m still making and eating holiday candy, but I’ll make good choices before and after.
I will still indulge and have holiday treats. I’m going to make buckeye candy and homemade gingerbread houses with my kids. We’ll have outdoor campfires with s’mores. I’m not giving up those fun and delicious memories. But I want to work smarter leading up to that and after.
Here are proactive steps I will take this year to be well and, more importantly, have a healthier mindset:
1) Move physically,
2) Pay attention to nutrition,
3) Use a calendar for motivation, and
4) Do for others.
Try these tips for moving physically.
Find an activity you enjoy or don’t hate – aerobics, walking, biking, hiking, yoga, pure barre, Bootcamp, swimming, etc. Keep trying if your first choice isn’t right for you. I signed up for an adult hip-hop class, and after three weeks of a late-evening class with two different instructors, I knew it wasn’t suitable for me. Then I found and joined a group Jazzercise class with great music and movement for an hour. The people in the class were so welcoming and friendly to me.
I walk or move on busy days when I’m taking kids to and from activities. You can’t do this for every sport. But if it’s a drop-off and pick-up scenario, you can park your car, walk with another mom nearby, or travel to a well-lit track or indoor walking path.
Squeeze in short workouts throughout the day. I often do five, seven, or 10-minute routines in between meetings. I don’t typically get sweaty, and I gain a burst of energy. These two YouTube fitness ladies are my favorite – Bodyfit by Amy and Lucy Wyndham-Read, but there are many adaptable videos you can try.
One final important tip is to think of others while I exercise. I think beyond myself and say, “I’m going to walk/jog/lift weights for ___.” And I fill that blank with a friend struggling, a family member, or an entire community or group who may need prayers and love. Using others as my motivation helps get me moving. Join the PMC Fitness Group to stay motivated and connected.
Pay attention to nutrition results and portions.
I do not count calories. I hardly get on a scale to check my weight. Instead, I’m very mindful of how I feel after I eat. I enjoyed some triple fudge ice cream with the hardening chocolate syrup a few weeks ago. It was delicious, but an hour later, I had a headache. I don’t usually get headaches, so I knew it was from the extra sugar I consumed. I haven’t had that same treat since then because the headache is not worth it.
Try portioning your food into more sensible sizes. The typical American diet has portions more significant than we need. You see this often in restaurants. I try to make it a habit of eating half of what’s on my plate rather than filling it up and licking it clean. Include a lot of color in your diet, especially green foods.
A health coach once told me it takes our brains about 20 minutes to realize and signal that we are full. That’s why slower eating is recommended. Slow down and have a conversation. Savor your food. Keep yourself active with positive thoughts and not mindless eating when you’re not hungry.
Place a motivational calendar and quotes nearby.
Do you have a big mirror you look into every day—in your bedroom or bathroom? I have one in my bedroom, and each month I tape up a new calendar with recommended workouts. I write each day what I’ve done for movement or for self-care.
Also, near that, I have an uplifting quote. These writings force me to see health advice and positive thoughts every day. I also put reminders on my phone to exercise or go for a walk. Sometimes I hit the “dismiss” button but having those pop-ups and papers in front of my face every day helps me stay on track, making self-care a priority.
Volunteer or do something nice for someone else.
One of the best ways to feel better is to do something nice for another person. Give away a few of those holiday treats you made to neighbors and friends. Volunteer for a cause or event that is important to you.
Spend a few minutes sending a kind email or text to a friend, loved one or colleague. I make a habit of doing this every Friday.
A kind deed uplifts my mood. I likely get more out of it than they do.
Be well. Enjoy the Time.
I hope my holiday wellness tips will help you this season. Let me know additional suggestions you have or put into action to stay uplifted during this time of the year. Happy, healthy holidays!