Can you believe that in a couple of weeks, this year will be over, and we get to start again with a fresh, clean slate? It all seems to happen so fast - one moment we are celebrating the 4th of July with our families, the next moment we are hanging Christmas decors and buying Christmas presents. Soon after, everyone will be busy making their New Year's resolutions and attending dinner parties left and right. Things will be generally chaotic for a little while until the ball drops at midnight and fireworks light up the sky. Oh, the festive season is here, and it is fascinating!
But between the rush to prepare gifts, attend parties, and soak up all the fun that the yuletide holidays have to offer, how can we be sure that we are taking good care of our bodies? The heavy meals, increased alcohol intake, and lack of sleep that typically characterize every "fun" gathering or event are, in reality, extremely difficult to avoid (believe me, I get it), so why even try to, right? It's Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year, so you should not hold back and eat, drink, and be merry!
Well, this is a perfect example of the saying, "Even if you could, it does not mean that you should." Yes, you can have the time of your life during the last few weeks of the year, and yes, you can throw caution to the wind and live at the moment, but it does not mean that you should do it, especially if you are aware of the possible repercussions of your actions.
To help you get things right, here are some tips on how to stay fit and healthy during the holidays:
You don't have to force yourself to eat only salads and low-calorie food while everybody enjoys the holiday feast. That is hard, sad, and frankly, no one should do it. Ever. You can enjoy food as much as the next person does and still be making intelligent choices (yes, it's possible!). First, you need to eat slowly. Savour the flavors and texture of the food instead of eating it to have your fill. When you eat slowly, you are giving your body enough time to process the food properly, and as a result, you feel more full. A Harvard Health Blog article suggests a 10-minute interval after finishing your first plate. Taking this short break helps you make smarter choices - either you realize that you've had your fill, or you only want a smaller portion for the next meal.
It would be best if you also refrained from going to parties or events with an empty stomach. If possible, eat a small meal first before going out so that you can avoid overeating. Lastly, for those with a sweet tooth, instead of having a bite of every single option on the table, you should stick to one or, at most, two of your favorites. Quality over quantity is the name of the game.
Drink lots of water
Our body's total weight is composed of 60% water, which means we need to stay constantly hydrated to maintain the proper functioning of different parts of the body. This being said, you should strive to consume as much water (and as often) as possible. Plain water is best, while infused water is an excellent alternative to those who want a bit of a flavor. If you consume alcoholic beverages, try to limit your intake and avoid high-calorie drinks like eggnog and margaritas. You should also make sure to drink water in between those cocktails. You will feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning, sans hangover.
Pick a healthier substitute when you can
Believe it or not, you can indulge in your favorite holiday foods without feeling guilty afterward. For example, you can choose Greek yoghurt instead of using sour cream in mashed potatoes or salad dressing. And speaking of mashed potatoes, have you tried swapping it with mashed sweet potatoes? They taste almost the same, but the latter is less-guilt inducing. Plus, it is packed with incredible nutrients, too!
Do not forget to exercise
Yes, I know how hard it is to work out and enjoy the holiday season at the same time, but with some minor tweaks to your routine, you can do both! Start by planning your workout session around your holiday schedule. If your routine is an hour-long session per day, why not split it into two 30-minute sessions, one in the morning and the other in the evening. You can also transform one of these sessions into two 15-minute walking or jogging sessions. The goal is to make your routine manageable so you do not have to sacrifice one item in your schedule for another.
You can do your workout at home, too, if you do not have the time to hit the gym. Nowadays, there is no shortage of available fitness tutorials on different platforms; you have to choose which fits your needs and schedule.
See, enjoying the holidays and staying fit and healthy does not have to be complicated with a few adjustments here and there. And learning how to make smarter choices, you can have the fun you want without regretting it later.
Last tip: go out and enjoy the holidays, responsibly so!