4 Ways to Keep Healthy for the Holidays

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Bah humbug. There's nothing that gets my eyes rolling and me grouchier than seeing the inevitable mountains of blog posts after Thanksgiving filled with words like, "Detox! Cleanse! De-Bloat! Undo Damage! Juice!" Even before the holiday, I overheard another trainer telling his client to stay away from all carbs on Thanksgiving and to only eat turkey and greens... sigh. Losing my marbles over here. 

 A bandaid- not a solution. 

A bandaid- not a solution. 

You all know my feelings on detox/cleansing, and how I believe that achieving healthy balance is about negating those extremes. Food is neither a reward nor a punishment, yet so many of us get caught up in the mindset of inevitably indulging in far more than intended, then wracked with guilt or denial in the days following. 

There's a better way. 

The weather is frigid, your social media is bombarding you with glorious holiday cookies and pies, your collective office freebie food stash is getting cluttered with treats, you have ugly Christmas sweater parties and ten other holiday parties to go to.

Yes, you're not facing the smoothest sailing when it comes to your nutrition over this next month. 

As you guys know, I'm not a big proponent of relying on your willpower to sustain you through resisting all of these social gatherings- that is a miserable and futile way to go for the vast majority of people. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, set yourself up for success. Keep these three things in mind instead:

  1. Your office holiday party has the best eggnog and cookies and you look forward to it each year.

    • Do not guilt yourself about moderately enjoying your favorite goodies.
    • Small, occasional indulgences will not blow your fitness efforts- simply treat the rest of your days/meals as your everyday routine, healthy meals. Consistency will always win.
  2. Go big or go home is not the wisest game plan. The more you pit foods against each other as "good" and "bad," the more your brain gets fixated on that dichotomy

    • What that turns into is: "Oh no, I had that 'bad', giant cookie... feeling guilty....I have to be extra 'good' the rest of the week to make up for it...Well, if I'm going to be good the rest of the week and I've already eaten the cookie today, may as well enjoy another. And perhaps an extra glass of champagne."
    • Remember: Who you are today is who you are tomorrow. Your sugar cravings and inhibitions will not just go poof and disappear tomorrow- so it is unrealistic to rely on your future self to behave "better" than you did today.
    • We don't want to seesaw between "good" and "bad"- that sets us up for some extreme bads and extreme goods, neither of which are sustainable or healthy.
  3. Set yourself up for success.

    • Fail to plan, plan to fail. This old fitness adage rings true especially with the many disruptions in routine we face this month. 
    • Surround yourself with the best options possible in the circumstances you have. Whenever I'm staying at my family's house for the holidays, I'm surrounded by a lot of foods I'd prefer to not primarily eat. I'm not saying you must bring tupperware meals with you or don't eat at all (hope you read that in Arnold Schwarzenegger voice). But on the less important meals leading up to the big family dinner, opt for the healthier choices for breakfast and lunch- make sure you get your veggies and protein in!
  4. Get moving.

    • Take a walk. It's so easy for your food coma to tempt you into flopping onto that couch after a big meal, but even a brief walk around the block will help you digest and offset the carb/sugar crash that would come down on you otherwise. 
    • Take all opportunities to move. Dance it out, play charades, chase the kids around, take the stairs. Doesn't have to be a full-on training session, but you'll also feel a million times better.