They’re coming: the holidays!
Touted to be the most wonderful time of the year, yet we often end up dreading the rush and stress it brings. Plus, with all the extra food-related celebrations we attend, it’s no wonder some of us gain an annoying 5-10 pounds by the time the clock strikes midnight on the New Year!
Instead of waiting for the major magazines to publish “5 Healthy Holiday Eating Strategies” for you to read an hour before Thanksgiving dinner, shift your mindset to developing those healthy eating strategies now before the holidays hit!
Now, the go-to here would be eggs and bacon, but there are so many more options available! Try replacing your milky cereal or breakfast bar with veggies and protein, like pan-seared broccoli, spinach, eggs topped with nutritional yeast. Or, egg “muffins” filled with peppers, mushrooms and sprinkled with cheese.
This savory breakfast will likely keep your hunger at bay a little longer. Plus, this ensures you get at least two large servings of veggies - setting you up for success for the rest of the day.
Yes, this one gets repeated a lot, because most of us still don’t drink enough water throughout our day. Plus, cooler weather tricks us into thinking we aren’t thirsty and we end up drinking much less than we need. There are so many overlooked benefits of drinking water regularly we don’t think about. Plus with flu season on the way in, we could all use a boost to our immune systems!
In addition to improving your mood, your skin complexion, your energy levels… drinking more water will help flush out the built-up toxins in your body after events when you opt to drink a little more than you normally would.
It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking about weight loss instead of health gains when trying to improve nutrition and exercise. The number of the scale doesn’t provide the full context of how your body is feeling and operating on a daily basis. Keep moving and following your body’s natural queues of what makes you feel good, versus what slows you down or causes aches. While it’s easier said than done, try focusing on the way you’re feeling rather than your weight.
Focus on positive thoughts and enjoying the journey. Be kind to yourself and try not to beat yourself up. We all have bad days and setbacks but don’t let one bad day or even one overindulgence derail your whole mentality and game plan.
When it comes to the celebration itself, enjoy! Take a bite (or two, or five) of your grandmother’s apple pie because you know how hard she worked to make the crust from scratch. Eat your child’s homemade holiday cookies - baked with a lot of love of course - so you can witness the gigantic smile on their face guilt-free. It doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing affair; you can enjoy the foods you want to in celebration with your friends and family without overindulging.
Take it one step, one holiday at a time!
If Memorial Day’s hot temps were any indication, Summer is unofficially here and our routines are about to change pace, if they haven’t already. Some days may feel more relaxed than others, but for the most part schedules change and things tend to become hectic: kids are out of school, the days are longer, and the big family vacation is coming up quick. In the craziness of these upheavals to the Spring routine you just got used to, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of your personal health and fitness goals. Of course it’s healthy for your body to take this opportunity to enjoy some much needed – and well deserved – downtime, however, it’s important to find new ways to adapt your healthy habits to this new routine so you don’t let the demands of summer keep you off track.
Be keenly aware of your thoughts and actions in order to remain focused on your long-term goals, as this is the most important habit you can continue doing daily to succeed. This level of focus shouldn’t only be reserved for special holidays when you’re trying not to overindulge, or in the middle of a mindfulness practice. It should be yet another component in your daily routine to help you think and plan ahead. To remain mindful and stay focused, try asking yourself key questions rather than defaulting to old habits which won’t serve your goals:
Throughout the summer families find they live by their child’s sports schedule, often not knowing exactly how late each practice, double-header or team competition will run. Or, there will be an upcoming vacation or family reunion where you know it will be difficult to find healthy options to keep you focused.
Both situations present the opportunity to plan your nutrition in advance so you don’t find yourself drowning in a sea of hot dogs, potato chips and ice cream. It might feel inconvenient at first to pack an extra cooler with healthy snacks for the family, or put together a macro-friendly dinner you can eat during your daughter’s game, but eventually this habit will become routine as well.
If you don’t have space for a cooler then think about foods which you could still bring but wouldn’t need to be refrigerated, like: raw nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc), fresh fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, berries, etc), minimally processed meat sticks (Nick’s Sticks or Garrett Valley), or even fruit bars (e.g. That’s It. fruit bars, Larabar, RXBAR). However, if you absolutely cannot bring food to an event, then try to understand what choices might be available and pre-plan appropriately so you aren’t mindlessly munching your way through the day.
This habit can be as simple as remembering some activity is always better than zero activity. Your big family vacation should of course be a break from your normal routine, but you can still find ways to get up and move. For example:
Incorporating some degree of movement will help you feel good about yourself while you’re still able to take a break from the everyday grind.
No surprise here, but drinking plenty of water will keep your body hydrated, help it stay cool, cycle nutrients throughout your tissue, and remove toxins from your body.
“But water is boring.”
Only if you let it be! Treat yourself to a fun, reusable water bottle you’ll want to carry with you as an accessory so you’re sure to sip whenever you feel thirsty. Or, add a natural flavor boost, like muddled mint or mashed berries, to help satiate that sweet tooth without giving into drinking a traditional soda.
Summer should allow you a guilt-free break from the daily grind; a chance to renew and refresh yourself. But breaking all of your healthy habits as a result of the seasonal shift will only feel like setback by the end of the Summer. Be kind to yourself and employ these simple habits while having fun in the sun. You’ll have no reason to start over if you’ve remained focused on progress, not perfection.