Thanksgiving is the official beginning of the holiday season. The “holiday season” begins Thanksgiving Day and spans through New Year’s Day. While the holidays obviously are a time to spend with family and friends, they are also a time for eating, drinking, and indulging. Not only do we eat on the actual holiday itself, but there are tons of little parties and get-togethers throughout the whole month of December. I personally have a “Friendsgiving” and my husband’s work Christmas dinner next weekend alone. That’s a lot of eating! I put together a little list of tips that I use to make sure I am staying healthy this holiday season, while still enjoying myself and indulging here and there.
- Forgo the small treats between events- I’m talking about the donuts your boss brings in to work for breakfast, or the cookies your coworker left in the faculty room because they were left over from a party and they don’t want them in their own house. Nibbling away at these seemingly small treats does add up. If you pass on them, you will be able to enjoy the things you really want later on. I do my best to eat extra healthy during the week so that I have some wiggle room on the weekends.
- Make time for your workouts. Thanksgiving morning, I took 40 minutes to myself to run on the treadmill and do a quick leg workout. I felt so much better sitting down to my meal knowing that I got my workout in earlier. I also feel that when I work out I make better choices about what goes on my plate (more vegetables, less sweets). I always aim for five workouts a week and I also challenged myself to walk my dog three mornings a week before work for the whole month of December to get in a little extra exercise. This is the time of the year when we need to exercise the most because we are eating more and our motivation is lower (sweaters and jeans are way more forgiving than bathing suits).
- Try to limit your alcoholic drinks when you’re NOT at a gathering. I’m not going to tell you not to drink wine at a Christmas party. I will certainly be drinking wine during my holiday get-togethers, but I am NOT going to be drinking wine on other occasions. I love having one glass of wine on Wednesdays for “Wine Not Wednesday” while I watch Survivor with my husband and a glass or 2 on Friday night to wind down after a long week, but I will be passing these up for the month of December. It helps that’s it’s getting cold because a cup of hot herbal tea works as a great substitute.
- Don’t overdo your holiday baking. Whenever the holidays arrive, I get the urge to bake my favorite holiday treats. That is completely fine to do as long as you don’t go nuts. Try small batch baking so you don’t end up with 3 dozen cookies you spend two weeks eating. I made a Gingerbread Loaf Cake the other night. When it was finished baking and cooled, I cut the loaf in half and froze one portion for later so that my husband and I wouldn’t feel like we had to eat the whole loaf. It’s also okay to share whatever you bake with friends and family, but be mindful that they also may be trying to stay healthy for the holidays so don’t dump all of your leftovers on them.
- Indulge in a few things you REALLY want, not everything you see. My aunt makes the most amazing Chocolate Cheesecake and I ask her to make it every Christmas Eve. I KNOW I’m going to be eating that after my meal, so I’m careful about which appetizers and sides I fill my plate with (more veggies and fruit, less creamy/cheesy dips and sides). I then eat a normal-sized portion and savor every bite rather than cutting a huge hunk (which can be tough because I love it so much).
I’m never going to be the girl that tells you to “eat a salad before the party so that you’re not hungry when you get there” or to skip out on your favorite holiday foods entirely. Moderation is key. Healthy living is always a give and take. If you’re exercising and eating healthy most of the time, you will make it through the holidays just fine. The problems arise when you use the holidays as an excuse to completely fall off the wagon, so make sure that doesn’t happen by following my tips for a healthy holiday season!
Keep an eye out throughout the entire month of December- I’ll be sharing some of my favorite holiday recipes! I’m also working on a healthy holiday gift guide with all of my favorite products as well as the items I’m putting on my list and I hope to share that next week! Cheers to the holiday season!