December 24, 2015
For many of us, the holiday season means enjoying time off with family and friends, copious amounts of food, and maybe a glass or two (or three) of egg nog.
And why not? We’ve earned it, right?
But unfortunately, it can be a little too easy to undo months worth of hard work at the gym with a few over-indulgent weeks in November and December. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with skipping your workout to enjoy a holiday party or a family gathering. But if you want to stay on track for your fitness goals this holiday season, it’s important to strike a balance between fun and health during this tempting time of year.
So with that in mind, Evolve Fitness has decided to put together a list of some of our favorite health and wellness tips for the holidays. Enjoying holiday traditions with loved ones is the best part of this time of year, and not something to take for granted. But at Evolve Fitness, we believe that it’s possible to do so while still setting yourself up for your healthiest year yet in 2016! So hopefully this list will help you and your family brainstorm ways in which you can enjoy your holiday traditions while still living a balanced, health-conscious lifestyle.
One of the easiest ways to avoid over-indulging in unhealthy food is to bring your own dish to holiday gatherings. With a little planning and a trip to the grocery store, you can easily cook up something delicious and health, like this slimmed down green-bean casserole, or this pomegranate quinoa pilaf.
Aim for dishes that are high in protein and fiber but low in carbs, ensuring that you can keep your energy level up throughout long (sometimes stressful) days spent with family and friends. Healthy recipes don’t have to be boring, and can often be a surprisingly popular change of pace for those that a little bored with Christmas ham or Boxing Day tenderloin.
It can be hard, if not impossible, to carve out time to get to the gym during the holiday season. Between jam-packed social calendars and irregular class schedules at most fitness centers, getting to that yoga or spinning class between Christmas and New Year’s might be wishful thinking for most people.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay active during the holidays. Plan a day hike with your family to a local destination, like the Blue Hills Reservation just outside of Boston. And who doesn’t love a rousing game of touch football on Christmas morning? Outdoor activities are a great way to make the most of time spent with family, and you’ll be having such a good time that you probably won’t even realize you’re exercising!
There are endless options to stay active with family during the holidays, and while these are just a few ideas, they’re all more fun than sitting inside and watching TV!
Worried that you’ll be tempted to eat too much pecan pie at Mom’s house this year? While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, it can be easy to go overboard during the holidays, and the goal is moderation in all things. Another simple way to avoid over-indulging is to eat a light meal prior to arriving at holiday gatherings.
Show up starving, and before you know it, you’ve packed away thousands of calories that will be tough to work off in a few weeks. But eat a healthy meal before you surround yourself with unhealthy treats, and it’ll be much easier to know when you’ve had enough.
After a few too many glasses of wine, it can be tough to keep track of what you eat, but studies show that people who keep a food journal are much more likely to avoid putting on excess weight during the holidays. It takes some discipline, especially this time of year, but the reward is worth the effort.
The good news is that these days, there are plenty of apps that can help.
And be honest. If you feel like having an extra slice of apple pie, go for it! If you keep track of what you eat this holiday season, at least you’ll have an accurate benchmark to start planning for your fitness goals at the start of 2016.
When surrounded by endless plates of unhealthy comfort food, portion control can be very difficult. But try using smaller plates and utensils, and you might be surprised at the waterfall effect it can have on your eating habits. Using smaller dishes provides a built in buffer, and before you have a chance to grab seconds you might wind up realizing that you’re already full!
If you’ve attended one of our yoga classes in Cambridge before, you might be familiar with the concept of mindfulness. But regardless of whether you’re a practiced yogi or not, mindful eating can be especially powerful this time of year. The idea is to eat with intention and purpose, taking notice of each bite, rather than simply shoveling food into your mouth until you can’t eat anymore.
Sound too out there for you?
Just give it a try! Pause between each bite and try to fully observe and appreciate every flavor you’re experiencing. You’ll find that the simple act of being more observant while eating will cause you to eat just a bit more slowly, which naturally controls the impulse to overeat.
The last, but most important piece of advice we have for you fitness buffs this holiday season is this:
Don’t give up!
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that you have to throw your fitness goals out the window. Now is the time to be vigilant about your wellness routine, and step up your program, rather than giving into temptation and peer pressure.
Don’t be afraid to tell your friends that you’ll be an hour late to the party because you have to squeeze a workout in. And Mom will get over it if you skip out on her famous apple pie in favor of a Christmas Day run.
And if you’re looking for a little bit of extra motivation? Drop by one of our Fitness Centers in Cambridge or Framingham, MA, and whether your goal is to build muscle, burn fat, or simple enjoy a healthier lifestyle, we’re here to help!