With the holiday season in full swing, there are 2 kinds of posts popping all over the Internet:
1) Tips on how to stay on track over the holidays
2) It’s okay to ‘Eat, drink & be merry’ during the holidays…it only comes around once a year
While both ends of the spectrum shares valid points, my stance remains in the middle ground. On one hand, the holidays are so much more than stressing over eating “clean” & working out. As they only come around once a year, letting loose is absolutely fine…especially when certain foods like your grandmother’s special batch of freshly baked shortbread makes an appearance or when that extra glass of mulled wine adds to the experience. When I look back, chances are I am going to remember the laughs I shared with friends when I had a few too many to drink or ate an extravagant meal, rather than the time I turned down an invite to hit the gym instead.
With all this in mind, I also know how overindulging makes me feel afterwards…all that sugar and alcohol really does catch up. Although it’s popular to set healthy resolutions once the year new year starts, I rather kick start the year feeling great about myself. As holidays, vacations, weddings and so forth constantly come up, they’re hardly a reason to let go of our healthy habits completely…at least in my books. Rather than set myself up for a vicious cycle during the holidays this year (or any other year), I plan to practice a more moderate approach that feeds me physically, mentally, and emotionally: i.e. making choices so that I stay healthy physically but also enjoy the season to the max without stressing over food & exercise. So if you share a similar mindset, these “tips” on staying healthy over the holidays might be for you:
- It’s okay to indulge…but make it worth it your while: Rather than go head-first into everything, I prefer to scan my options and choose the few foods which really appeal to me and then savor those. Case in point: chocolate yule log > mince pies any day!
- It’s okay to overeat sometimes….just don’t starve yourself the next day to compensate: From past experience, I know that’s only setting myself to fall into a vicious ‘Binge/restrict’ cycle.
- It’s okay to cut back on exercise intensity…but continue to keep your body moving: Whether you’re walking, running, dancing or lifting weights, staying active is a surefire way to boost those endorphins, relieve stress and also spend quality time with yourself. I’m sure we can all agree that as lovely as it is to be around friends & relatives, there comes a point where we need one-on-one time with ourselves…at least I do!
- It’s okay to have late nights…but still make sleep a priority, even if it means waking up a bit later or sneaking in an afternoon nap.
- It’s okay to skip meal prep or minimize your time in the kitchen…but that’s not an excuse to rely on take-out or ready meals: Nothing says quick like eggs, toast & some steamed spinach.
- It’s okay to drink that extra glass or 3 of wine….but then make sure you’re upping your water intake too: The effects of excess alcohol aren’t always pretty, even more so when dehydration kicks in.
- It’s okay to eat out 3 (or 4, 5, 6) nights in a row, but then maximise on your meals at home: Even if I’m eating out 6-7 meals a week and not always choosing the healthiest option on the menu, I can definitely do my best to balance them out with the remaining 17-18 meals at home by filling myself up on plenty of fresh produce, lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.
What is your approach to the holidays, in terms of food & exercise?
How are you staying healthy over the holidays?