Wherever I look I see similar headlines. In line at the grocery store. On Yahoo’s homepage. In my Twitter feed. The same theme: eat healthy during the holidays; be prepared to gain weight during the holidays; delicious desserts, tips for monitoring what you eat during the holidays, don’t be a couch potato. Geesh, makes me feel guilty and fat just reading the words, and I haven’t even tasted anything good yet!
The month of December often gets a bad rap from nutritionists and health experts. And probably rightfully so. How many people attend holiday party after party and see these parties as simple opportunities to toss healthy eating habits a chunk of coal? Every year at the end of December, I hear people complain about gaining pounds, blaming the holidays. I’m guilty of indulging a bit more than usual with appetizers, snacks and delicious drinks. Chewy candies, like Swedish Fish, Mike & Ike’s and Dots, are my weakness, much more so than chocolate.
But it doesn’t have to be ‘Downer December.’ You can still enjoy the holiday festivities without packing on the pounds. I’ve found a few simple ways to stay healthy and active as the holidays approach.
Continue to schedule in your workout. It’s easy to delete a workout from the calendar when you’re juggling dinners with
friends, company outings and shopping, but try not to. Even if you can squeeze 30 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical every day, or several days during the week. If you use the excuse that exercise bores you, multi-task when you can. I’ve gotten into the habit of riding my exercise bike when I want to check social media or scan the headlines on Yahoo. I am an avid reader so I’ll often only let myself read a good book or magazine while on my exercise bike. I have put many hours on my bike by doing this. It makes 30-60 minutes fly by (have you seen how thick those Twilight books are?!)!
Staying active doesn’t have to be a lonely adventure. Snag a friend to join you for a Zumba class, yoga, walk through the neighborhood or lifting weights at the gym. I always enjoy meeting my sister for Zumba or lifting weights at the gym with my husband. We may not talk much during the workout but it’s nice to have a friendly face beside me to share a smile with or encourage me to push a bit harder.
While online shopping is increasing in popularity, consider window shopping to burn some calories. When you stop at Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s or the mall, don’t drive up and down the parking lot looking for the closest spot. Park further away so you can get some fresh air during a brisk walk to the door. My mom has started walking regularly at the local mall, which she really enjoys. She can burn some calories while people watching (the best!) and window shopping.
Eating out for meals also tends to increase in popularity during the holidays. It makes sense as people want to see friends and families, and enjoy the festivities. Even my calendar has more restaurant dates than usual on it during December. You can still eat healthy at restaurants! Be thoughtful in what you order and remember restaurants tend to give servings much larger than one should eat at a meal. Consider taking part of the meal home for the next day’s lunch or dinner (or your husband). My friend, Lynn, and I always share an appetizer when we meet for happy hour. It’s cheaper and it prevents me from overeating. And of course you could park further away from the door so you burn more calories before and after the meal!
Staying active, or even starting an exercise routine now, is the important point. Don’t start a diet in December, focus on maintaining your current weight. Try to incorporate exercise and healthy eating whenever possible. Do ab crunches or calf raises while watching TV. Walk or run to the post office to mail Christmas cards. Take one cookie instead of three. There are a lot of opportunities to take care of yourself and enjoy the holidays!