Believe it or not the holidays are upon us, and from sweet holiday treats, to decadent feasts and glasses filled with holiday cheer, everywhere you look there is something just tempting enough to make you stray from your healthy habits faster than reindeer can fly.
This year the challenge may be even greater as many of us have already been derailed by pandemic gym closures that have disrupted our exercise routines. Couple that with increased stress eating (and drinking) as we struggle to navigate job security, home schooling, lack of socialization and more, and some of us are already fighting an uphill battle.
While a little holiday joy is definitely in order, that’s not an excuse to overindulge. No, you don’t have to be the Scrooge at your family gathering or virtual happy hour. In fact, it is possible to be both fit and festive. Below are a few ways you can celebrate without sacrificing your long-term goals.
Get SMART! No, we aren’t referring to your IQ. We are talking about setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound (SMART) goals. As a fitness instructor, I often see people ruin months of hard work and discipline during the holidays because they set sweeping, generalized goals. For example, if your goal is to hit that favorite cycle or Pilates class 3-4 times a week, you can easily get thrown off course when a virtual holiday party or late work night prevents you from attending. Before you know it, you’ve gone a month with no workouts.
A SMARTER solution would be to commit to simply moving your body 30 minutes a day, 3-4 times per week. This goal meets the SMART criteria and gives you a sense of control and accomplishment, as well as a little wiggle room for those unexpected deterrents. If you make it to class, great! If not, you can do 30 minutes of walking, running, strength training, or anything that gets you moving, and still be successful.
Pre-Game Your Party…with healthy snacks! If you know that you are going to be tempted by a holiday menu laden with treats, make sure you fill up on some healthy snacks so you don’t overindulge. Veggies, a small salad, or a smoothie are good options that will help you feel full so that you don’t overdo it.
Pick Your Poison. If you know that you can’t resist your grandmother’s pumpkin pie, reserve some space for a small slice–but to compensate, consider skipping that second glass of wine. It’s all about balance, so choose what you enjoy most and treat yourself to a small helping.
Come Prepared. Whether you are the host or the guest, you can always bring something healthy to the table. Veggie trays, fruit salads, or hearty grain dish not only helps you stay on course, but it also may inspire others to do the same.
Finally, expect the unexpected. Even the SMARTEST plans can fall through. If you find yourself in a sugar coma from too many holiday sweets or are feeling a little under the weather from raising a few too many holiday toasts, don’t be so hard on yourself. One slip-up is not a reason to give up. Tomorrow is a new day.