Tips for Staying Healthy This Holiday Season

Article by Trevor McDonald

If we created honest to-do lists for ourselves each year, they’d probably look a little something like this.

January: Make a new year’s resolution to get healthy
February: Break new year’s resolution
March through April: Hide under chunky sweaters
May through August: Get your bikini body back
September through December: Focus on eggnog and pumpkin pie

It’s a sad truth for many of us, but the holidays are the best time to break the vicious cycle.

According to a report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the average person puts on one pound of weight during the holidays – and they never take it off! People who are already overweight tend to gain five pounds or more during the holidays.

Here are some tips for staying healthy (and avoiding that 1 to 5-pound gain) during the holidays.

1) Avoid alcohol – When you’re trying to stay healthy and maintain your weight, liquid calories are never a good idea. They tend to be even worse during the holidays with rich, calorie-dense mixed drinks. Did you know that one 8-oz glass of eggnog can contain more than 220 calories?

The best way to stay healthy during the holidays is to forgo alcohol altogether, but you can drink if you keep it in moderation. Remember that there are ways to celebrate without alcohol. Try focusing on the activities themselves instead of the drinks. For example, keep the toast about the sentiment. It shouldn’t matter whether you have champagne or sparkling water; the meaning is the same.

2) Stay active – Our schedules go into overdrive during the holiday season because we have so many celebrations on top of our regular responsibilities. Exercise and self-care are among the first things to get bumped from our daily routine when things get hectic. Although this is understandable and sometimes unavoidable, you can still make an effort to remain active. Maybe you have to skip your barre class to get a Christmas tree with the family. Consider chopping down that tree yourself. You’ll get a good hike out of the deal too! Find small ways to be more active in the things you do during the holiday season.

3) Indulge wisely – You’ve waited all year for a taste of grandma’s pumpkin pie, so don’t deprive yourself. Instead, make wise choices to avoid sweets and empty calories before the big day, and you can indulge with a clear conscience. Food is clearly an important part of family gatherings, and you might feel miserable if you deprive yourself. Focus on a few of your favorite foods and limit the stuff you can live without. There’s no need to indulge in pasta if that’s not even your weakness. It’s a waste of a good indulgence.

4) Avoid stress – This last tip is much easier said than done, but it’s important for your overall health. Holiday stress can really sabotage your best healthy eating habits. This is because high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can increase your appetite and drive cravings for junk food.

If you have the option of avoiding stressful situations, do so. If not, find healthy ways to cope with stress. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are all effective ways to keep your cortisol levels in check.

It is possible to maintain that bikini body throughout the year if you start now. Avoid that 1 to 5-pound weight gain now and start the new year with a healthy outlook. Your efforts in the holiday season will set the tone for the year to come.

Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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