The words “holiday” and “healthy” rarely are uttered in the same sentence. ‘Tis the season for sugary baked goods, decadent dinners, couch-potato marathons and last-minute, stress-filled sprints to the mall. Add on the challenges of COVID and the tail end of hurricane season, and this time of year can become the ultimate test of wills. That’s why it’s important to greet this period of overindulgence with practical tips and strategies for each situation you may encounter.
Here are some tips to help get you through the season without derailing your health and wellness goals:
MAKE HEALTHY EATING AND DRINKING ACHIEVABLE THROUGH PLANNING:
- Prep and freeze healthy meals ahead of time: Meal prep is my best tool to prevent habits like stress-eating or eating out of boredom.
- Keep an eye on your portions (literally): Use simple visual guidelines to make it easier to eat healthy portions. For example, a bowl of your aunt’s mac and cheese might be the size of a deck of cards, and a serving of fried turkey is about as big as the palm of your hand.
- Don’t walk into a room full of desserts without a plan: Skipping meals or forgetting to eat a light snack before party’s leaves you hungry, which makes it much harder to practice self-control. So, eat before you go. And buffet wisely y’all — only one trip!
- Slow down and fork down: This is probably one of the biggest challenges during holiday meals. Slow down and take the time to enjoy your favorite foods. Savor the flavor and consciously put your fork down, take a drink and talk. Enjoy every morsel.
DEVISE A FITNESS PLAN TO STAY ACTIVE:
- Keep your running or walking shoes on: Wearing active shoes makes it easier to take the stairs, take the long way around the mall or workplace or park the car farther away from your destination. Use a pedometer or smart watch to track your steps, and get them in when and where you can. We have miles of beaches and bridges perfect for walking or riding a bike on a cool, crisp day; take advantage of our beautiful coast.
- Mini workouts actually work: We are all short on time, especially during the holidays, but 15-to 30-minute workouts build muscle, boost metabolism and are easy to fit into your busy holiday schedule. Hot yoga, for example, is a great way to torch calories in less time.
- Schedule your workouts and take advantage of mornings: Having a schedule makes it easier to keep your exercise commitments. As you create your schedule, consider morning workouts. The beginning of the day is my favorite time to get my exercise in. Working out in the morning is not only effective, but it frees up the rest of your day for other activities.
- Put stress in perspective by practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness is about creating some space between you and your worrisome thoughts. Try yoga or meditation, which are great ways to slow down and recognize stressful thoughts for what they are – just thoughts. Mindfulness practices have also been shown to help with physical pain, which can add to stress. CALM is one of my favorite apps, and it is free. It offers one-, three-, and five-minute mediation breaks to destress.
Finally, take a step back and remind yourself that the holiday season only happens once a year. And as challenging as it can be, you still can spread cheer. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy holiday season.
Karol Brandt is an executive host with Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, as well as co-author of the Amazon best-seller “The Struggle is Real: Finally Break the Dieting Cycle, Transform Your Mind and Body, and Evolve into The Person You Have Always Wanted to Be” and the “30-Day Evolve Challenge Journal.” Contact Brandt by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook/ The Struggle Is Real or Instagram at karolbrandtnola.