Healthy Tips for the Holiday Season

iStock_000010676270XSmallmultipresentsWe are officially in the holiday season, and Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are right around the corner! The holidays are traditionally a time to indulge, but many people struggle to maintain healthy diet and exercise habits in the face of so much temptation.

If you are concerned about staying healthy during the holiday season, here are a few tips.

Dietary Considerations

One of the best things about the holidays is the food and drink, but Christmas cookies and eggnog aren’t exactly diet-friendly. The good news is, you can still enjoy your favorite treats without sabotaging your diet goals.

Keeping a food diary is a great way to hold yourself accountable to dietary goals and track caloric intake. Knowing that you must record every bite you take can serve as a deterrent at a buffet table filled with sumptuous treats. You can use a pen and paper journal for your food diary, or take advantage of electronic apps like MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople. Set a calorie goal for each day and try to remain within the constraints.

However, avoid skipping meals in order to “save up” calories for a holiday party or gathering. If you forego lunch, you’re more likely to overeat at dinner. Don’t attend any parties on an empty stomach; instead, eat a protein-filled snack a few hours prior, which will keep your appetite from becoming too voracious.

If you do overindulge, maintain some perspective. One meal won’t set you back too far. Forgive yourself and promise to eat better the next day!

Exercise Ideas

If you’re in a regular routine at the gym, stay motivated by scheduling in your workouts just as you would any other appointment. Nobody has to know that you skipped the cocktail party for a weightlifting session!

If you are too busy to hit the gym, incorporate movement into your day in other ways. For example, dance with your kids to some holiday tunes in the living room. Or, power-walk around the mall as you shop. Chores like vacuuming or mopping are also good for your core. Try to tighten your abdominal muscles as you work around the house.

If you’re pressed for time and simply can’t get in any formal exercise, start making a workout plan for the New Year. Buy a Groupon for a new Pilates or yoga studio, or recruit a workout buddy with similar fitness goals. There are plenty of deals to take advantage of, come January.

Mind Over Matter

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be mentally taxing, too. Make sure you’re staying sane and taking some time to re-group. Lower your stress levels by doing something that you enjoy: call an old friend to catch up, sleep in on a Saturday morning or volunteer for your favorite charity. Laughter is also good for reducing stress, so pop in your favorite comedy DVD or browse YouTube on your lunch break for funny videos.

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