The holidays are almost here, and your health deserves more focus than ever. For many people, the holiday season is a time to drop off on wellness habits like diet and exercise. But failing to keep up with your health and fitness goals now will follow you into the New Year.
If you want to stay focused throughout the holiday season, I can help. I’ve pulled together seven tips to help you stick to your goals throughout the holidays, so let’s dive in.
1. STAY COMMITTED TO YOURSELF.
If you’re on a healthy journey and have been doing well all year, it’s important to keep your progress in perspective. It’s easy to lose focus on your progress during the holidays, particularly because unhealthy habits like over-indulging are part of many family traditions.
Rather than losing track of yourself during the holidays, remember that it’s a season of giving. That means giving the gift of health to yourself–not just giving to others. During the holidays, we tend to forget about the journey that has led us to this time of year. Staying committed to your health is a form of self-love.
This time of year is a time to stay focused and committed to yourself and your health–and keeping it a priority.
2. START YOUR HEALTH JOURNEY NOW.
Rather than losing focus on your health during the holidays, why not begin a new phase in your journey–if not the journey itself? Yes, the holiday season is an extra challenging time to start focusing on health and fitness. But starting during a difficult time is a psychological skill I’ve learned to leverage. The challenge is like rocket fuel for me, and maybe it’s like that for you, too. It’s a great way to raise my energy and commitment.
If you haven’t been on a health kick lately, consider starting right now. The motivation is an awesome mental tool you can use to kick-start yourself. People might look at you like you’re crazy for starting now, but give it a shot and use their skepticism as a motivational tool to get in gear.
3. ALLOW FOR EBBS AND FLOWS.
The holidays are a time for indulgence, but indulging means creating a healthy balance. You don’t have to be rigid to stick to your health plan during the holidays–that will just cause unnecessary stress, which (surprise) isn’t super healthy. Instead, allow for the inevitable ebbs and flows in your diet and exercise, and plan to accommodate the changes.
Don’t neglect to enjoy yourself just because you’ve got goals to meet. You have to enjoy your life, particularly because fitness is a journey–not a sprint. There are tricks and strategies you can use if you get off-kilter with your nutrition this season.
For example, decide how you’re going to handle holiday meals ahead of time. If you plan to indulge in a rich entree, dessert, or glass of wine during dinner, then think about how you’ll offset that elsewhere. Today, you can combat the extra calories you consumed yesterday. So how could you do that?
- If you practice intermittent fasting, extend your usual fast the next day
- Exercise during your fast (fasting cardio workouts help you detox and reach homeostasis more quickly if you consumed alcohol the night before)
- Watch your evening carb intake, avoiding unnecessary carbs before bed
Consider using an app to track and plan your meals, especially during the holidays. Using tracking tools will give you an extra layer of accountability, plus help you plan around the traditions and special occasions you don’t want to miss. You can use apps and websites to plan everything down to the drinks you’ll be enjoying–and don’t be afraid to bring your own drinks and snacks if it means you can avoid unnecessary carbs and calories.
Allow yourself the ebbs and flows and enjoy your time with family and friends during the holidays. But also, don’t forget how important your health is to you (and them). Stay committed to your own journey, even through the shifts, and you’ll thank yourself when the New Year rolls around.
4. MONITOR YOUR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION.
For many people, enjoying a drink during the holidays is inevitable. So if you plan to have cocktail or glass of wine, be strategic about it. You absolutely must be intelligent about your alcohol consumption in order to stay on track with your fitness goals.
When you drink alcohol, your body prioritizes it over everything else you’ve consumed. That means if you’re eating a lot of food and drinking at the same time, your body focuses on metabolizing the alcohol before the food. Drinking alcohol while you eat delivers a double whammy to your body, so consider having your drink separate from your dinner.
Here are a few tips for strategically enjoying alcohol during the holidays:
- Avoid drinking alcohol during meals or, at the very least, reduce how much you plan to drink
- Consider having your glass of wine earlier than dinner to give your body time to metabolize it
- Avoid beer if possible, due to its high gluten content, and stick to spirits and wine instead
- Watch the amount of sugar in your alcohol; for example, the drier the wine, the lower the sugar content
Just like your meals, approach your holiday alcohol consumption with intentionality and common sense to stay on track.
5. WATCH PORTION SIZES.
Portion size is a critically important piece in your healthy diet, so watch your portions, particularly during holiday meals. I advise my clients to drink a 16oz glass of water before they eat, then to eat their protein first. Work your way to vegetables, then carbs, fats, etc., to see if you can feel more satisfied earlier. Being strategic about the order of foods you eat, and when, can help you keep your portion sizes smaller.
Focus on reducing your intake of specific foods, such as refined carbs and fats. And, avoid mixing fats and carbs at the same time during your meal. Eating fats and carbs at the same time causes your brain to crave more, so pick one or the other if you plan to eat either at a holiday meal.
6. AVOID SNACKING BETWEEN MEALS.
If you’re planning to eat a holiday meal with family or friends, try not to snack in between. Save indulging for meal time rather than grazing throughout the day. Snacking is more stressful on your body than having a larger amount of food in one sitting. Let your body be more efficient, and it will metabolize your one meal more easily than eating small amounts all day long.
7. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
If you choose to ramp up your fitness journey during the holidays, awesome–but, the holidays are also a time to manage expectations. For some, it’s a great time to get motivated and jump into a new health journey. For many of us, it’s a time to maintain the rhythm we’ve established throughout the year. They key is finding where you’re going to have the best balance in your life, then leaning into that.
Maybe you have the margin, the motivation, and the ability to kick your fitness up a notch. If so, great. But maybe you just need to maintain what you’re doing. Maybe you don’t necessarily need to worry about gaining in the gym or losing extra pounds right now, but instead simply sticking to your schedule and prioritizing your health during this time. Maybe it’s a great time to establish new goals–or maybe you just need to steadily mark time and save your goals until the New Year.
Decide what you can realistically expect from yourself before you commit to your holiday routine. Then, stick to that. Be sure to cheer yourself on along the way. Sticking to your health during the holidays is a challenge, but it can absolutely be done.
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
It takes major commitment to stick to your health and fitness goals during the holidays. You can’t beat around the bush when it comes to sticking to your plan. No fluff: fitness is hard work. It requires some sacrifice, even in the midst of special occasions. The easy route doesn’t exist, and it’s important to embrace that now.
Fitness requires a mindset shift. You have to really want the results you’ll see from making changes and working toward your goals. And if you make good daily decisions along the way, you won’t feel like you’re starting from zero when you do get off track. Stay ahead of the game, keep the momentum, and you’ll soon be stacking one victory on top of another.
Need some extra help staying motivated this holiday season? Reach out to me and we’ll get you started on a fitness plan that works for you.