The hot topic on health and fitness for winter seems to be “weight maintenance over the holidays”. This simply means that right now the majority of people are trying to have a good time, indulge a little, stay active and not gain weight. Never mind losing weight, let’s just try to survive without adding an extra pound. During this time of year, our health habits are challenged by changes in weather and in the abundance of comfort foods that seem to pop up everywhere. It can be difficult to find time to eat healthily and exercise in the bustle of the holiday season between shopping and parties, the pressure to choose unwisely is real. Here are a few common questions about staying fit for holidays and to share our best holiday fit tips.

Two most asked questions during the holiday season

  • “How do I stay active during the holidays?:”
  •  “How do I stop myself from overeating during big family meals?”

If these winter challenges sound too familiar, let’s deal with them together with these 6 tips:

Adapt- Move your exercise indoors for the winter if you live in cold areas, and remember that even just 5-10 minutes of exercise a day can help retain gains, solidify habits, and provide both mental and physical health benefits. If you don’t have time to do your normal routine during the holidays, settle for a quick bodyweight exercise program at home or a shortened version of your normal routine. Doing some is better for you consistency and for your body than doing none at all. Don’t fall into the all or nothing trap, learn to be adaptive!

  1. Get involved in the holiday meal- Bring a few healthy options to the company party or the family dinner so you know that you will have options. If you are preparing food, try new recipes with whole fresh ingredients like a ceviche, a salsa, or a roasted vegetable. If you have a specific diet, bring something that fits within your needs.
  2. Check your portion sizes- Treat the sweets and the heavy calorie dense foods as trial sizes. Use them for the taste, not for filling up on. Instead, fill up on the greens and protein. Split a roll with another person, have just one small scoop of mashed potatoes, have a quarter of a desert instead of a whole slice. These tips will leave you and your waistline feeling great about the holidays.
  3. Beware of liquid calories- Drink water, tea or black coffee. Try to stay away from soft drinks and fruit juices that are high in sugars. Limit your alcohol intake to just one drink at a special event. As with sweets, use these drinks for flavor, not to quench thirst. Drink water for thirst, sip calories sparingly.
  4. Encourage Family Activity- After a big meal do something fun with the family. Here in Arizona, there are so many choices for winter weather activities. Go for a hike, a bike ride or a walk with the family after dinner and collect fall leaves for crafting later. Organize a touch football game, find a neighborhood to walk and look at lights together, or turn on an active game like Wii sports or dance games. Doing a physical activity helps to center your family gatherings around something other than food.
  5. Beat stress with quiet time and grounding exercise- Stress is a major precursor for weight gain and illness. Stress changes your hormone balance, causing you to gain belly fat and feel more fatigued. Addressing stress during the holidays is crucial. There are many ways to address your stress level but first, start with acknowledging it. Remember, everything we do is a choice, we chose to be busy, we choose to do things that make us uncomfortable. We can also choose to be less busy and to skip the things that make us feel uncomfortable. Recognizing that we are making a conscious choice often times allows us to deal with that difficult decision a little easier. Evaluate your options, then make the best choice you can and forgive yourself (and others) for any shortcomings. Spending just a few minutes in quiet meditation or a solitary walk can help you to see things more clearly and prioritize the things that truly bring value to you this season.

However you choose to celebrate the season, we hope you find peace in your decisions and balance in your life. Slow down enough to be present in your situations; think when you eat, feel when you are around loved ones, take time for yourself to soak it all in and feel gratitude for the work you have accomplished in the last year. You are good, you did good, you survived, you thrived and you overcame. Happy Holidays!