It’s that most glorious time of year, the holidays! But if you are a woman living on planet Earth, all that joy does not “just happen” – there is a lot we do as moms, wives, sisters and friends to bring the sparkle. And sometimes that added stress feels a little bit better while enjoying one of the cookies we’ve made (or bought and put on a plate).
Stress (good and bad) combined with foods we do not usually eat can be a recipe for weight gain over the holidays. So here are six tips to help keep you feeling healthy while still enjoying this special time with friends and family.
1. Keep Your Workout Routine – or at Least Keep Moving!
With all the special holiday programs and events this time of year, it can disrupt your normal routine, including your gym time. Make working out a continued priority. If the kids are out of school, see if your gym offers a kids club they can hang out in for an hour while you get your sweat on. If that’s not an option, take a bike ride as a family so you still get that movement. Also, if you find your time compressed, instead of a normal whole hour workout, do a 15 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) or take 5 pauses in your day and knock out 25 squats each time.
2. Don’t Overschedule Yourself
This one is SO hard to do around the holidays. There are a million things going on and they all sound so fun at the time, until you look at the calendar and have something going on every night/day for the next two weeks! That increased level of busyness can cause unneeded stress, which can affect your cortisol and even your sleep. Both lack of sleep and increased cortisol can cause weight gain. Do yourself a favor and only say “yes” to the things that really give you and your family joy. Everything else can be a polite decline.
3. Don’t Go to Parties and Events Hungry
A little peckish, sure, but hungry, no. This is when the bad decision monster comes out and you are much more likely to overindulge or eat very rich foods that are not a part of your normal diet. We get it, it’s the holidays and a little indulgence is fine, but if you have a healthy snack before you go to the party, you are less likely to go nuts with the artichoke dip.
4. Get Sleep
Those sugar plums dancing in heads are not just for children. This busy and stressful time of year can wage war on your good night’s sleep. Sleep is so vital to your health. Lack of sleep can affect hormones, ultimately affecting metabolism. Adults need to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night for optimal function. Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night is considered sleep deprivation, and that makes us crave glucose (sugar). A study presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity found that those who got less than four hours of sleep a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who got the recommended seven to nine hours of rest.
5. Control the Risk of Temptation
If you leave little snacks and goodies out on the counter, it is much more likely that you will absentmindedly snack on said goodies. Only leave those things out if there is company or an intention to enjoy the treats. Otherwise, put them away, bring them to the office (this is usually a sure way they will magically disappear), or bring them to the next party you attend. Try and limit placing tempting holiday snacks in your every-day traffic pattern.
6. Have a Go-To “Good” Recipe
When you go to dinner at someone’s house over the holidays, you have little control of the menu. Have a go-to recipe for a side dish or appetizer that is yummy but relatively healthy. You can make and bring that dish and then you know there is an option that helps you stick closer to your traditional style of eating. Usually these recipes are very veggie forward and incorporate dairy or meat alternatives. The Paleo Mom and Elana’s Pantry have some great ideas to keep it festive and waist-line friendly.
And remember, this time is meant to be enjoyed! Do your best this holiday season, but don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon a few times. That’s what new year’s resolutions are for! Hopefully these tips will help you be more mindful of your body and your health this holiday season so you can continue to be stronger than yesterday.