They start around this time every year. Those constant reminders that the holiday season is approaching fast- and so is everything that comes with it. The holidays are one of our favorite times of year, but we know that there are some hidden dangers involved- ones that will sabotage a healthy diet!
Even those most dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle can fall prey to a huge dining room table filled with desserts, fatty meats, and carb-loaded sides. Personally, I have to be restrained when I’m near pumpkin pie!
So how do you enjoy the delicious traditions that the holiday season offers without disrupting the hard work you put in all year in the kitchen and the gym? Here are some holiday fitness tips to remember:
1. Be aware of what you’re consuming.
Do you know what a proper portion size is for the foods you will be eating? For that matter, do you know the proper portion size for the foods you consume every day? Exactly how many calories are in that salad?
WebMD offers a visual guide to portion sizes that is a great way to begin to be aware of how much you should be putting on your plate. It even includes baked goods and other desserts that you might be indulging in through the holidays.
It’s okay to enjoy your favorite desserts, but it’s important not to binge on them!
2. Use a nutrition tracker.
Nutrition trackers are a powerful tool to help you be aware of what you’re eating. This is more than just “counting calories,” though being aware of about how many calories your food contains can be a powerful way to keep your health on track, especially if you have a weight loss goal. Let’s be clear though: we do not advocate extreme calorie restriction or obsessive calorie counting! If you know that counting calories will cause you to obsess unnecessarily over your food, avoid it altogether. That said, it could be eye opening to learn the nutritional density of the foods you consume regularly, and this knowledge could help you make healthy adjustments to your eating habits.
GRACESHIP adores My Fitness Pal for our nutrition tracking needs. I use it daily to make sure I’m achieving the macros I want. “Macros” or macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. I do make sure I’m not continually eating a very high amount of calories so I can maintain a steady weight, but I mainly make sure I’m getting enough protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates to support the achievement of my fitness goals. I work out very regularly at a high intensity level, so it’s especially important for me to make sure I’m fueling my body in a way that supports my fitness and health.
It’s more important to make sure your calories are coming from food that is nutritionally complex, whole, and pure- food that supports health- rather than stressing whether you can fit another bag of chips into your daily calorie allowance!
MyFitnessPal integrates automatically with many other mobile apps. My favorite is RunKeeper, which tracks many different kinds of physical activity and estimates the amount of calories you have burned during that exercise according to your height, weight, and gender. I stick my iPhone in an armband while I run, turn on RunKeeper, and when I am finished my data gets sent straight to MyFitnessPal!
3. Make healthy eating a lifestyle.
There are tons of fad “diets” out there, but the best thing you can do to achieve long-term success is to make permanent changes to your habits. Choose foods that are recognizable, fresh, and contain only ingredients that you can pronounce. Avoid overconsumption of sugar and unhealthy fats, and make sure your carbohydrates are complex. Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates or fat, either! Just educate yourself about which kinds are healthiest for you. I love avocado and coconut oil for healthy fats; and quinoa, buckwheat, and brown rice for complex carbs.
Naturally, those large family holiday meals are unlikely to be full of healthy choices- and that’s okay. Just be sure to keep smart portion sizes in mind, and limit your trips back to the table. Binging on unhealthy food will likely make you feel bloated, tired, or nauseous if you overdo it, so enjoy your cheat meal- but keep it moderate!
4. Stay on track with your fitness goals during the holidays.
Now that you’re aware of what your eating and its impact on your health, how can you achieve your exercise goals? Your schedule might be thrown off due to travel or having guests in town, and it’s easy to make excuses when it comes to making time to get your exercise in.
My favorite solution to this issue is a free website called Fitness Blender! They offer a huge amount and variety of exercise videos- everything from weight training to HIIT (high intensity interval training) to kickboxing to yoga! Did I mention that it’s free? Daniel and Kelli, the owners and stars of the videos, are friendly and super motivational! They really help you push through difficult exercises, and learn new ones as well. This is a great solution when you can’t make time to get to the gym- there are no excuses if you can do it at home! Fitness Blender offers videos from ranging in length from 5 minutes to over an hour, so they will definitely have something that you can squeeze into your schedule.
5. Plan your workouts in advance while traveling.
If you enjoy a certain exercise or type of studio, such as CrossFit or Bikram yoga, find a location that you can attend while you’re out of town. If you’re traveling to somewhere that doesn’t offer much in the way of gyms or studios, go outside! Sometimes there’s nothing better than running or hiking outside and enjoying nature.
With these tips and tricks in your arsenal, you should be ready to attack the challenges that the holiday season brings without stress! Enjoy the delicious food and time with family, and enjoy that cheat meal!