Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy During the Holidays Season

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is one of the busiest of the year for most people, filled with traveling, shopping, and holiday parties and family gatherings. It shouldn’t be surprising that most people gain between 2 and 10 pounds over those couple of weeks. Between the holiday goodies and the cold winter weather, even the most disciplined athletes can get sidetracked from sticking to their fitness regimes.

But this year can be different.

Here are 10 tips to help you stay healthy and fit this holiday season.

  1. Get Outside: While the call of the couch might be especially strong during the winter months, try to fight it and get outside. Spend some time hiking, building snowmen, or having a snowball fight. While you might not think some of your childhood favorite winter activities count as a workout, you’d be surprised. Get outside and have some fun!
  2. Set a New Challenge or Goal and Make It Official (When Possible): Set a new fitness challenge or goal for yourself to accomplish between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. By giving yourself a tangible goal, you’ll be more likely to want to stick with your fitness plan and less likely to overindulge. Make your goal as official as possible by signing up for a race or planning a fitness-y vacation, like a hiking or biking trip, so you have plenty of motivation to stay in shape during the holidays.
  3. Find a Workout Buddy or Make a New Holiday Fitness Tradition: Sticking to a fitness routine is much easier when you have someone to train with you. Enlist a friend or family member to be your holiday exercise buddy, or start a new holiday fitness tradition. Working out can be a solitary activity, but you can easily make it a group one by getting the whole family involved. Keep moving by going for a walk between dinner and dessert on Thanksgiving or having the whole family take a stroll before opening presents on Christmas morning.
  4. Treat Yourself: No, not to extra helpings of dessert. If you have room in your budget, indulge in some new workout clothes or gear before Thanksgiving to boost your motivation throughout the holiday season and to help you meet your new goal.
  5. Train Before Your Meals: Working out before going to your family gatherings gives you more of a calorie deficit going into the big holiday meal. If you plan on completing an intense workout before any big meals planned, like Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, you won’t feel as guilty about eating more than you normally do.
  6. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: While this is common advice to hear during the summer, most people don’t think about staying hydrated during the winter months. Besides the fact that our brains can sometimes mistake thirst for hunger, you can dehydrate just as easily during the winter as you can during the summer, especially if you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside. Drinking a large glass of water before a meal, especially if you’re considering going back for seconds, can help lessen the amount of food you eat. If you’re getting ready for a large, calorie-heavy meal, try drinking 2 big glasses of water beforehand to reduce the risk of overindulging.
  7. Get Rid of the "All or Nothing" Attitude: Just because you can’t make it to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t workout. Get creative with your workouts. Be the first person out on the dance floor at the holiday party. If you’re traveling or going on vacation, plan some walking or biking tours to explore your destination rather than taking a cab or public transportation. If you have yardwork to do, whether it’s raking leaves or shoveling snow, getting some outdoor chores done is an unexpected way to increase your heart rate and work your major muscle groups.
  8. Make a Plan and Stick to It: Just like you worked on incorporating working out into your daily routine at the beginning of the Challenge, you should do the same during the holiday season. Try planning out your workouts for the week and adding them to your calendar. If you have limited time, try to squeeze in a quick 15-20 minute workout rather than skipping the day altogether.
  9. Make Sure You Get Plenty of Sleep: The holidays can be an especially stressful time for everyone, from traveling to the added social commitments packing your schedule and the stress of holiday shopping. It can be so easy to forego sleep in order to cross some tasks off your list. Not getting enough sleep not only makes it more difficult for you to handle stressful situations, but it also makes your immune system have to work harder and leaves you more susceptible to germs. Try to get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep per night so your body has a chance to recover from the day’s activities and can reset for the next day.
  10. Indulge for the Day, Not the Season: It can be so easy to overindulge during the holidays – especially thanks to the abundance of parties and leftovers. Instead of allowing yourself to snack on leftover treats every day, once the party is over get rid of the treats. The day of the holiday is a time the celebrate and enjoy yourself, so enjoy yourself! Just remember, it’s ONE day. If you’re concerned about possibly overindulging, the truth is that one day won’t make or break your fitness plan. So, enjoy the holiday, but don’t let once day of overindulgence turn into a month and deter you from achieving your fitness goals.

The holidays can be a stressful time of the year, but they don’t have to impact your health and fitness goals. With come creativity and dedication, you can enjoy the holiday season and move into the new year without feeling guilty about letting your holiday traditions become an unwanted, long-term habits.

Weekly Focus Questions

  1. I planned a holiday/seasonal activity outside of my regular routine this week. True/False
  2. I set a new fitness challenge or goal for myself to accomplish between Thanksgiving and New Year's. True/False
  3. I outlined my workout schedule for the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's this week. True/False
  4. I looked up at least 2 seasonal recipes this week. True/False
  5. I planned, thought about, or researched opportunities to donate or volunteer during the holiday season this week. True/False
  6. I slept for at least 6 hours at least 6 days this week. True/False


Sources
  1. 8 Secrets for Staying Fit During the Holidays. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/11/20/8-secrets-to-staying-fit-during-the-holidays.
  2. 6 Ways to Stay Fit for the Holidays! https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/6-ways-to-stay-fit-for-the-holidays.
  3. 15 Surefire Strategies to Stay Fit from Thanksgiving to New Year's. https://greatist.com/fitness/stay-active-from-thanksgiving-to-new-years.

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