Having a Healthy Holiday Season
December 16th, 2021
It's the holiday season, which is also the time of year when healthy habits slide off track and waistbands get tighter. But it doesn't have to be this way! If you're committed to maintaining your health goals, there are some simple strategies that can help keep you moving in the right direction through the holidays and beyond.
Change your focus.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to work on cultivating quality connections with family, friends, and colleagues. Instead of seeing it as a series of parties where you can indulge in food and drink, focus instead on improving relationships and making memories.
“It's not as much about filling your stomach with fine food as it is about filling your heart with the love of those around you,” says Dr. Frates.
Partake in moderation.
Focusing on maintaining your health goals doesn't have to mean going without any indulgences; it just means setting some limits.
“If you do drink alcohol, stick to the American Heart Association guidelines,” says Dr. Frates. This means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than one to two drinks for men. Consuming too much alcohol can cause you to lose your drive to fuel your body with nutritious food.
Don't pause workouts.
Though the holidays get busy, be sure to stick to your workout routine.
“A regular workout schedule of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week will not only help relieve stress, but it will also lead to better weight regulation during a time when calorie-dense foods are the norm,” says Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Try a new activity.
A fun, new workout can inspire you to get moving when the cold weather hits. Options include both indoor and outdoor activities. If you are an outdoor sports player, see if you can find an indoor facility to keep practicing that sport during the winter. If you're a walker, head to the mall to do some laps. The holidays are a great time to experiment, whether it's trying a Zumba class or swimming laps in an indoor pool.
Enlist your friends and family.
Take the opportunity to connect socially and boost your fitness by trying a class with a friend or family member. Exercise can be more fun if it doubles as a social activity.
Gear up for an activity.
Putting together your own wish list for the holidays? Add some fitness items — maybe a set of hand weights or a portable mini-cycle that you can use while you sit at your desk or watch television at night. Or ask for a cooking class so you can learn how to make some healthy meals. Proper winter clothing can make it possible for you to enjoy the cold weather without feeling the chill.
Track your habits.
Using food logs, activity trackers, fitness watches, or even a simple calendar are good ways to keep tabs on how often you are exercising. Tracking your daily progress can make you more conscious of your health habits and alert you when you're starting to slide.
Skip the shame.
If you go off track during the holiday season, don't give up.
“If you do have a day that doesn't go as planned and you revel and have excessive fun, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow, set a new goal, and move forward,” says Dr. Frates. Waving the white flag in defeat will just make it harder for you to get back on track when the New Year rolls around.