If this year has taught us anything, it is how valuable health is.
With the holidays in full swing and Christmas right around the corner, the act of taking care of ourself often gets booted to the bottom of our never ending list.
The holidays are stressful enough without a global pandemic. Couple that with more indulging and less exercise, and it's no wonder we feel the need to set resolutions come the first of January.
Instead of waiting until January to begin practicing self-care, here are six tips of how you can enjoy healthy & happy holiday season this year:
1. TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Maintaining our weight during the holidays is much more realistic than weight reduction, the focus of which shifts our attention away from the things that truly matter (read: not a number on the scale). Take the pressure off.
On average, people only gain a little more than one pound over the holiday season — not the 10 pounds many of us think we have gained. Special occasions serve up food that is higher in sodium (causing water retention/bloat) and richer in fat (heavier on the tummy), both of which can leave us feeling heavier.
If getting to a healthier weight for your body is currently a goal, try focusing on eating balanced meals with lean protein, fruits and veggies, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates.
2. EAT REGULAR MEALS
It seems logical: skip breakfast or lunch to save more room for the baked ham and buttered rolls later. But restrictive approaches set us up for overeating and drinking. Eat regularly throughout the day, and you'll find you have more energy, better mental clarity, and ultimately more enjoyment of the festivities this season brings.
3. INDULGE IN MODERATION
Dietitians constantly use the phrase “everything in moderation, including moderation”. We preach and practice it in our own lives, or at least try our best too. When we give ourselves permission to enjoy food, while being mindful of the fact that anything taken to the extreme is out of balance and unhealthy, we are practicing this notion.
Real life application: Enjoy a cocktail, and then switch to sparkling water or an unsweetened beverage. Pour a cup of afternoon coffee to enjoy with your best friend's famous Christmas cookies, and get in plenty of colorful veggies at dinner time.
4. CREATE NEW HOLIDAY TRADITIONS
Going on the annual vacation to your family's favorite slopes may not be happening as planned, but this year can be an opportunity to birth new traditions. Here are a few ideas:
Host a family cooking competition — you'll have a Christmas feast to enjoy after the winner is named!
Instead of caroling door-to-door, pile into the car for a drive and take in the town's beautiful, twinkly lights while singing carols at the tops of your lungs.
Practice random acts of kindness.
Get crafty and DIY a new ornament, handmade card, or holiday wreath from clippings.
Leave a hot meal with a hand written note on the door steps of a family you love.
Sit around a bonfire, all bundled up, and share your favorite holiday memories.
Learn a new game together — Our pick? Mexican Train Dominoes!
Write a 2021 Bucket List
Designate a weekly movie night in which each family member gets to pick a Christmas movie everyone watches together.
5. MANAGE STRESS
Between traffic and holiday crowds, finding the perfect gift, cleaning, cooking, and trying to make it all "perfect", this time of year can be overwhelming! Stress signals the release of the hormone cortisol in body, which drives hunger and can lead to weight gain.
Create a list of 10 things that destress (ex: paint your nails, play an episode of Fixer Upper, do a guided meditation with the app Headspace), and keep it somewhere visible. When holiday tensions start to escalate, pick something off the list to find neutral again.
6. STAY ACTIVE
Fitting in movement can be a challenge this time of year, thanks to chilly weather and fewer daylight hours, but staying active is super beneficial. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and supports mental health. What's more, 45 minutes of daily activity counteracts short-term overeating, according to the Journal of Physiology.
So get outside, rake the yard, walk or run a 5k, park at the back of the lot and carry bags of groceries out, or have a family dance-off. Sometimes it is more realistic to get in shorter bursts of activity, but it all adds up!
In closing, this year has been different, to say the least. But different can be good: it can spark newness and inspire growth, if we allow it. Here's what I propose for this season: let's take good care of ourselves this year by nourishing our bodies. Let's rest, take the pressure off, move and breathe in deeply. Let's look out and look in.
Wishing all good things for you and yours this holiday season and beyond. May you thrive and be intoxicatingly present to every savory moment.
Hope Frugé + Team Eat Fit