Yep, it’s that time of year again. Time to gain the holiday 20, right? Weekends are jam-packed with holiday parties, kids are bringing home cookie dough fundraisers (and you have to order at least two batches of white chocolate macadamia nut, right? I mean, the proceeds go to your kids’ school…) and everyone is feeling a little festive after work every night, which means you’re consuming apps and cocktails a bit too often. Maybe that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case this year, though. Sure, you want to indulge a little and enjoy the beautiful season that is upon us, but the months of November and December don’t necessarily need to be detrimental to your health.
If you would still like to enjoy yourself, but not end up with a spare tire just in time for New Year’s resolutions, then there are a few things you can do to approach the holidays in a healthier way.
1. Drink lots of water!
It seems silly and simple, but it really helps a lot. Since you’re probably consuming a bit more alcohol and foods you didn’t prepare (which means they’re probably higher in sodium) you’re going to want to stay hydrated. Furthermore, if you drink a lot of water, you’ll feel fuller. So maybe you’ll only have two pigs in a blanket at that work party, instead of the entire tray.
2. Workout early
Morning workouts can be tricky, especially if you have kids. But once you leave the house for the day, the chance that you’ll end up back in the gym decreases greatly. Don’t forget that you’re probably more likely to go out after work — either with coworkers or with your family — since ’tis the season. In that case, you won’t have time to get on that treadmill. If you get your exercise out of the way early, you’ll be starting the day off from a high point. Then if you do happen to eat a bit more in the evening, it won’t be as catastrophic.
3. Eat healthy food wherever possible
There are a few ways to do this, which makes it that much easier to ensure that you’re getting your nutrients. First, pack your snack and lunch for work. This way you can control how much fat and sodium you’re taking in, and you can also be sure to include fresh fruit and veggies. Also, if you do find yourself at the buffet table at a party, do your best to head to the crudités first. If you fill up on some carrot sticks and hummus, you’ll be less likely to eat the fried shrimp or platter of brownies sitting nearby.
4. Keep moving
Since you know that you’re likely to consume more calories in the upcoming weeks, you should take every chance you have to burn some of them off. That means making the effort to take the stairs instead of the elevator. It means going out for a brisk walk (even if it’s just around the block) after lunch. It means getting up from your desk at least every hour to take a stroll around the office. (Your fitness tracker will thank you.) Every opportunity you have to move your body will be an opportunity to approach the new year healthfully.
5. “Healthify” your favorite treats
This might take a little more effort, but it can be worth it. If you know that you’re going to be baking a lot, for example, then consider different ways to make your treats a little better for you. Often times you can substitute applesauce for oil, or you can use whole wheat flour instead of white flour. It is possible to make things taste sweeter (and better overall), with a little added cinnamon, vanilla, bananas, or dates. A simple Google search can give you tips for whatever you’re preparing.
The moral of the story is that you don’t need to avoid fun this holiday season in order to stay healthy. You can still indulge a little, as long as you make conscientious decisions when it comes to food and exercise. A little bit can go a long way!