The holiday season is my favorite time of year. It’s a time to reconnect with loved ones, take a break from hectic work or school schedules, and, of course, eat. Yes, the holidays are characterized by feasting on Christmas cookies, eggnog, latkes, and every other yummy festive food you can think of. Although I have no problem stuffing my face with holiday goodies, I’m not such a big fan of the post-holiday gym rush, or the way ten gingerbread men feel in my belly. Fear not, foodies: there is really a way to skip whipping out the elastic waist pants on January 1st and the standard “I will start my diet today” New Years resolution. Here are some tips for how to stay fit during the holiday season.
Get Some Exercise
I know, I know. Exercising is the last thing you want to do during the holidays. However, fitness can be a great way to entertain family and friends, as well as keep off those extra pounds.
Many places host holiday races, such as a turkey trot, which are a lot of fun to do with friends and family. These races are usually 5ks, and they’re always family-friendly and festive. Running, or walking, is a great way to get people out of the house and moving. It’s a fun activity that allows you to get some exercise, chat with neighbors, and possibly win a pumpkin pie, or a cute t-shirt. Not a runner? Turkey trots are open to everyone—runners and walkers, alike! Holiday races are fun, interactive, and the perfect outlet for combating extra calories.
If there’s not a holiday race near you, that’s no excuse. Still encourage your family and friends to go on a jog, or a nice walk. Better yet, challenge everyone to a game of football, or a snowball fight. What better way to celebrate than with some friendly competition? Strap on your ice skates, or skis and enjoy some festive winter sports. Maybe you take your mom to a yoga class. Choose an exercise you like, and invite friends and family. Having someone to workout with will make it more fun, but will also keep you accountable. Getting sufficient exercise is crucial to staying fit during the holiday season, though. Although you might not want to, I promise, it will feel great to move your body after cooking all day.
Portions, Portions, Portions
Often times when we are holiday feasting, our portion sizes get out of control. We heap our plates, and then return for seconds, thirds, and so on. Before you know it, you’re completely stuffed and suddenly you regret going back for the fourth helping. We’ve all been there before, but controlling you portions is actually easier than you may think.
Before you start piling on the food, ask yourself what you really want. If you aren’t craving that salad your aunt insisted on making, don’t eat any. Only taking the items you really want to eat will automatically help conserve your portions. Here comes the harder part. Be careful about the quantities of food you’re putting on your plate. For example, start with a small helping of mashed potatoes. If, when you’ve eaten that, you really want more, go back and take a little bit, but avoid a massive portion. When you’ve finished eating and are considering getting more food, pause and listen to your stomach. If you feel full and satisfied, stop yourself. Remember, there are always leftovers.
Don’t Forget About Liquid Calories
It’s easy to forget that some beverages have a lot of calories, especially alcohol and soda. While you should absolutely enjoy yourself during the holidays, it’s important to be aware of the kind of fluids you choose to consume. If possible, try to pick lower-calorie drinks. For example, instead of mixing alcohol with soda, try tonic water or club soda. You can also limit yourself to one or two drinks, which will help conserve calories. Weigh your options. Would you rather have an extra glass of wine, or a scoop of ice cream with your pecan pie?
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
While you should be cognizant of your fitness over the holiday season, remember that it’s a time for pleasure, fun, and kindness. This absolutely includes being kind to yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself for taking a day off from exercise, eating an extra cookie, or going back for that second helping. The key is balance. Enjoy those extra calories, and then balance it out with healthy snacks and exercise you like. Your health shouldn’t wait until the new year; make it a priority everyday, no matter what time of year.
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