What's the first thing you think of when the holidays start getting closer?
Maybe it's the opportunity to spend time with friends and family that you don't usually see, or to enjoy all kinds of delicious holiday foods. Maybe the holiday season is your favourite time of year to travel, or perhaps you're just looking forward to sitting by the fire at home.
As great as all of these things are, they can get in the way of your fitness goals. It's okay to relax, have rest days, & eat chocolate cake for breakfast occasionally, so go easy on yourself, but don't totally fall off the health wagon over the holiday period. When you start skipping the gym to be with family or piling your plate at Friendsgiving, it's easy for a snowball effect of unhealthy habits to occur.
The good news is that there is a way to find balance! You don't have to keep yourself from enjoying precious holiday moments. You just have to go into the most wonderful time of the year with healthy tips for the holidays in mind.
Here are 8 tricks you can do to ensure you're staying healthy during the holidays.
1. Plan Ahead
Failing to plan is planning to fail. When it comes to the holidays, you can't be caught off guard by travel days or gatherings with lots of yummy food. This will make it harder for you to get your workouts done or stay on track with your diet.
If you plan ahead for these things, though, you won't miss a beat on your journey to reach all the fitness goals you've set for yourself. Some particularly smart planning tips include:
- pack healthy snacks for flights/road trips
- schedule your rest days on travel days
- schedule cheat meals on the day of the holidays you're celebrating
- figure out where you're working out while away from home
- consider which holiday foods you can/can't eat if you have dietary restrictions
Make sure you always have your workout clothes with you, too. This makes a big difference when you're on-the-go throughout the day or travelling somewhere for the holidays.
You can even take your own food to holiday gatherings so that you're not as tempted to go all out on the things provided. A little bit of meal prep can go a long way during this time of year.
2. Try Diet-Friendly Dishes
Speaking of meal prep, keep in mind that certain holiday foods don't have to be completely off limits. There are ways to modify everything from mac n' cheese to pumpkin pie and hot chocolate so they're not as unhealthy as usual.
The trick is to figure out which healthy modifications taste the best. Take your time to explore a few different healthy recipes for your favourite holiday foods. This will help you satisfy all your cravings without going completely off the wagon.
3. Use Portion Control
Although it's nice to modify certain foods when you can, you shouldn't be overly-stressed about what's on your plate this holiday season. Remember, the point is to enjoy yourself and part of that means indulging in not-so-healthy foods from time to time.
You don't have to completely avoid mom's mac n' cheese or grandma's apple pie. It's okay to have seconds of turkey and to enjoy a few more drinks than you normally would, too.
All of this should be done with portion control in mind, though. Appropriate serving sizes allow you to get a taste of the foods you're craving without making you go completely overboard on calories. They help you enjoy the holidays now and meet your goals later.
4. Modify Your Workouts
Don't be surprised if you find yourself crunched for time to workout during the holidays. Between travelling to other places or hosting guests that have come to your home, your time isn't going to be as available for the gym as it usually is.
But, this doesn't give you a pass to skip working out altogether. All it means is that you have to be willing to modify your workouts a bit.
Take the time to look at your workout schedule for the next month or so. Think about which days you're going to be travelling and what evenings you have holiday events to attend. Then, figure out how to still get your workout done even if you have a smaller window of time to do so.
You may choose to do supersets to get all your lifting done or to do at-home workouts so you don't waste time driving to/from the gym. Maybe you double-up on workouts some days and add a few more rest days into your calendar so that your holiday and health priorities balance each other out.
Whatever you do, don't skip too many workouts. Once you skip a couple of workouts, it's harder to get back in the gym the next time another holiday event pops up.
5. HIIT the Treadmill
This workout modification is such a game-changer during the holidays that it deserves its own explanation. If you've never tried a HIIT workout before, now is the time!
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It's commonly done by doing intervals of sprinting and walking on the treadmill, but there are all kinds of HIIT routines out there.
Some incorporate weights and others are fully cardio. You may find yourself doing a lot of bodyweight movements or using lighter weights than you normally do.
Either way, you'll definitely get the results you're looking for.
HIIT workouts know how to target your muscles in a fast, effective manner so that you can get in and out of the gym quickly. They're super challenging, and, depending on the kind of HIIT routine you do, able to build strength and endurance just as much as any other workout.
6. Exercise in the Morning
No matter what kind of workout is on your schedule, try to hit the gym in the morning.
This makes it more likely for you to get your workout done. It helps to avoid the temptation to skip your workout for a big holiday gathering or a cozy evening to unwind.
Not to mention, a morning workout is one of the best ways to start any day of the year!
7. Make Workouts a Group Effort
Here's an interesting thought: what if you didn't have to choose between spending time with loved ones and working out? Why don't you see if they're willing to join you on your fitness journey this holiday season?
This is ideal if you're travelling to see family or if you're the host. Inviting others to go to the gym or to take a group fitness class with you means you can still spend time together and reach your fitness goals.
8. Stay Hydrated
The final health tip for the holiday season is to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water every day offers many health benefits, especially this time of year.
Being well hydrated helps curb cravings and hunger as a whole. It means you're less likely to lose control at a holiday party, even if you do enjoy a few treats here and there.
Staying hydrated also helps in the amount of energy you feel throughout the day and in muscle recovery from tough workouts. It's a simple health trick that does a lot of good for you.
Staying Healthy During the Holidays and All Year Long
The coolest thing about all of these tips for staying healthy during the holidays is that you can apply them all 365 days of the year! There's no need to overcomplicate your life just because you're trying to be healthier. If anything, a healthy lifestyle makes certain choices much easier once you get the hang of it.
The trick is to keep going. Whether you're just starting to work on your fitness or you've been working out for a long time, there's always something new to learn to help you improve.
For more insights on being healthy during the holidays and the rest of the year, click here.