|Posted on November 18, 2016 at 8:05 PM|
Well, it's that time again! Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner! Can you believe it? It really is such a wonderful time of the year! Unfortunately though, it can leave us feeling worn down and holding on to a few extra pounds (that is IF we are not careful to maintain our health). As I always say, a healthy lifestyle has to be a priority each and every day. There will always be a “reason” during a busy season to skip a work out or fill our body with less than wholesome garbage. This however, will only leave us feeling sluggish, blue and more susceptible to getting sick.
So how can we avoid this holiday slump? In my book, it all comes down to three things: discipline, planning and balance.
Let’s first talk about discipline for a moment shall we? The truth is, a healthy lifestyle does NOT just happen. We have to put effort into eating well and staying active! We have to make the time to plan for healthy meals around our holiday gatherings and splurges (aka “20” meals) and we have to make it a point to lace up our sneakers and move every day! Despite how crazy this time of year may be, it is MY responsibility to schedule in my workouts and to make sure that I am eating well each and every day. I may not always "feel" like waking up early to exercise or to make a wholesome breakfast but I know my health and well being will thank me if I do and suffer if I don’t. My health mantra is simple and short: “Don’t over think it and just do it!” You will always thank yourself in the end!
Now how do we go about planning to stay healthy throughout all of the hustle and bustle around the holidays? For me, the answer is to sit down with a pen and a note pad and map out the upcoming events and the obligations I have. Then, I look at my upcoming schedule and decipher which days I am most tied up and which days I am most available to grocery shop (and ensure my fridge stays stocked with healthy food) and which days I can meal prep to stay home to cook healthy dinners for my family. Then I look at my upcoming schedule and I write down for each day when exactly I plan to fit in a workout and/ or go for a walk with my daughter (I aim for at least 10,000 steps a day) . Yes, even on Thanksgiving and Christmas I make a point to stay active because I know how much my health depends on it. Also, keep in mind that a typical Thanksgiving or Christmas Day is going to bring on average 3,000 MORE calories than any other given day so staying active is vital to help counteract the extra indulgences and comfort foods!
Now last but not least let’s talk about how to balance these upcoming indulgences while maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the same time. Let me start off by saying that I’m a firm believer in indulging (in moderation) around the holidays and throughout the year! Part of a healthy lifestyle is about having a healthy relationship with food and giving yourself permission to indulge in your favorite foods! That being said, one of the biggest health mistakes I witness around the holidays is that moderation goes OUT the window. Instead of a Thanksgiving and Christmas splurge meal it turns into a splurge MONTH! One or two splurge meals a week is not a problem. A few splurges on holiday sweets every day with exercise on the back burner? Now, THAT is a deal breaker! We truly have to want to be healthy and feel our best each and every day. We cannot be okay with letting our health go at any one point in the year (no matter how crazy the time of year is)!
Over the years, I have found that there are certain things I MUST do to stay healthy and keep my immune system strong and my weight stable during the holiday season.
Here are my “Healthy, Holiday To-Do’s and Dont’s” :
1.) Schedule grocery shopping trips, meal planning and work outs as if they were non- negotiable work meetings or doctor appointments.
2.) Don’t over think your healthy plans and spend too much time stalling…simply, JUST DO IT. You will thank yourself later!
3.) Remember to ENJOY your all time favorite holiday indulgences but with moderation in mind. Practice portion control and try to stick to one plate or your favorite foods to avoid feeling “stuffed” like a turkey!
4.) Make it a point to do something active daily (especially on a day where you will be indulging such as Thanksgiving and Christmas) to help balance out those extra carbs, fats and sweets.
5.) Drink lemon water during your holiday dinners and parties. This is one of my favorite ways to beat the bloat when I am eating a rich meal. Lemon water actually works to increase your stomach acid and aid your stomach in digesting your meal. It also lowers the glycemic index of your meal and therefore will help keep your blood sugar more stable during and after the meal.
6.) Park as far away as possible at the grocery store, department stores and malls etc. It may sound a little silly but those couple hundred extra steps at every stop will really add up to quite a few calories burned (that wouldn’t have happened if you had parked in the closest spot available).
8.) Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night. This will keep your immune system strong and your metabolism up and running as it should and it will keep the hunger hormone “leptin” stable. Studies have shown that when we skimp on sleep we crave junk and indulge much more than if we had been properly rested.
9.) Remember that the holidays are about SO much more than food. Family and the celebration of our Lord are much more important. Enjoy the fellowship and remember the true meaning of each holiday and that in itself will help keep you from just “letting go”.
10.) Stop eating when your stomach has told you it is satisfied and has had enough. There will always be left overs the next day and there is no need to go around feeling sick, bloated and lethargic. Slowing down during the meal to engage in conversation and making sure to have a healthy snack an hour or two before the meal will definitely help you practice self control!
Friends, I hope this holiday season leaves you feeling healthy, strong and revitalized! Remember, life will always have its hectic seasons but it is OUR job to maintain our healthy lifestyles throughout those times. I want to encourage you to use this Thanksgiving and Christmas season as an opportunity to take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Please remember, there is never a season or a time of the year where it is okay to not nurture the body God gave us. With all of that said, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Blessed and Happy New Year!
*picture source: www.kendavis.com