Healthy Through the Holidays
The holidays are most definitely my favourite time of year. I love when things get a little cozier, there's plenty of beautifully decorated houses with sparkling lights and there's just something special in the air. Most of all, I love that the holidays bring family and friends together. Even though you shouldn't need a reason to hang with your favourite people, throwing on some Christmas carols and decorating your house with garland always adds a nice touch.
With all of these wonderful gatherings comes extra treats, late nights and a drink or two (or ten). Let me say this now ... there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with enjoying yourself throughout the holiday season - not one thing! However, it is nice to keep a balance in your life to make sure things stay in check (for example, your sleep). So, I thought it would be useful to do a little write up on how to stay healthy through the holidays all the while still enjoying treats, drinks and lots of hugs.
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Staying Healthy Through the Holidays ...
(1) Keep Moving
Just because you have more social events doesn't mean you stop exercising altogether! Try swapping a post-work training session to a PRE-work training session (waking up early really isn't that bad), or condensing your workout to a 20-30 minute high intensity circuit. This way you don't have to skip your workout and it will set the tone for the rest of your day to make healthier choices. Elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat also helps to increase metabolism which will be useful when you want to indulge in a couple of your favourite holiday treats - more fuel for you fire!
Want to try an efficient, yet effective workout? Try a 30 for 30 circuit!
30 for 30
A1. Pop Squats
B2. Walking Lunges
C1. Jumping Jacks
C2. Plank Up Down to Mountain Climbers
D1. Bench Dips
D2. Tuck Jump Burpee
Complete each exercise in a sequence (A1 + A2) for 30 seconds back-to-back, then follow that with a a 30-second rest. Repeat each sequence for a total of 4 sets. You should be working longer than you're resting (60 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest), so this should get your heart rate up and your body moving!
(2) Make Sleep a Priority
Late nights are inevitable during the holidays but the nights you don't have a social event, make your night's sleep your number one priority for that day. Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep. To do this, limit your distractions (TV, phone, computer) 60 minutes prior to bed and start to dial it down with some light reading or maybe some soothing music (I love listening to Rainy Mood). I love taking a tsp a Natural Calm Magnesium before bed and lathering myself in peppermint and lavender essential oils to help calm and relax me. If you are an iPhone user, you can also use the Bedtime App which sets an alarm for you to go to bed and to wake up!
(3) Drink Water
More often than not, we are THIRSTY as opposed to HUNGRY so it's important for us to stay hydrated. With an increase in alcohol consumption it's especially important that we are hydrated BEFORE we start to party ... because by the time you wake up with a hangover, you're already behind. Aim to intake 3-4L of water throughout the day with an additional 0.5L for every 30 minutes of sweating - this is equivalent to 6-8 500mL water bottles. If you do by chance wake up with a hangover or a food coma ... aim to consume at least 1L of water before any other fluids (coffee, Gatorade, Pedilyte), and adding some lemon and ginger will help soothe an upset stomach.
(4) Healthy Alternatives
Nowadays there are SO many awesome recipes for healthier alternatives of your favourite food. I love baking around the holidays but I opt for healthy swaps to make my food more nutrient-dense. It's important to note that for most healthy swaps it doesn't necessarily lower the calorie-count but it does add much more nutritional value to the food and potentially help your body digest things a little easier.
Here are a couple of my favourite healthy swaps ...
- Coconut Oil, Avocado or Banana for Butter
- Maple Syrup, Honey, Coconut Sugar, Monk Fruit or Stevia for Sugar
- Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, Oat Flour for White Flour
- Dark Chocolate for Milk Chocolate
- Chia or Flax Egg for Eggs
- 1 Tbsp of Chia or Flax Seeds + 3 Tbsp Water
- Let sit for 5 minutes
(5) Walk More
As mentioned above, it's important for us to keep up with our regular exercise but walking is such a great form of movement that often gets overlooked! It's amazing how much our bodies benefit from the consistent movement of a solid walk to and from work or the grocery store. Even though it's colder out, try to up your steps by walking around the office every hour (if you're a 9-5er) or taking a study break to do some laps around the library (if you're in exam szn). Or ditch the Uber TO a holiday party and get in a couple extra steps on your way. This also helps to increase our NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) which is essentially all the energy we expend doing normal daily activities from walking to the bathroom or making breakfast. So when you have the option ... yes, take the stairs.
My best tip for the holidays would be to stay consistent with your normal routine whenever possible. So you have a late night with lots of indulgences? No worries, the next day when you wake up just go about your day normally the way you would on any other day. Focus on drinking lots of water, eat REAL, WHOLE foods and getting some movement in one way or another. As I mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself with lots of treats and drinks, but just be mindful that it's not something you do each and every day - that's what makes it special, right? Get back to your normal day-to-day and focus on fuelling yourself and getting a good night's sleep!
Please do me a favour and spend time with those people you love and enjoy the food, drinks and laughs that bring you all together. My dad showed his affection for others with big bear hugs and MASSIVE plates of pasta, so you better believe I will be enjoying some gluten-filled plates of pasta in his honour this holiday season.
P.S. The Training2XL advent calendar is still available - packed with quick and effective workouts, healthy holiday recipes, stretch sequences, goal setting and much more! Check it out HERE.