The holidays are just around the corner. For many, this means family dinners, game nights and festive cocktails. Correction: For many, this means way too much food cooked with way too much butter, sitting around the house for hours on end and indulging in one (or two) too many sugary cocktails. So when you’ve been putting in hard work at the gym and in the kitchen to stay healthy, the holidays can present a challenge.
To stay on track and keep up your good habits, try these three things:
1. Suggest healthier options (but allow yourself a few small treats).
Whether you’re hosting the meal or bringing a side dish, consider swapping a few of the classic holiday favorites with healthier, but still just as delicious, alternatives. This can be done easily without having to skimp on sweet and savory options.
Remember the classic green bean casserole that’s loaded with cream-of-mushroom soup and topped with fried onion straws? There are plenty of lighter versions of this side dish that bring a new twist of flavors into the mix. Try this green beans with caramelized onions and almonds recipe instead.
And the sweet potato “casserole” that really just consists of sticks of butter, sugar and marshmallows? There are sweet and savory alternatives that guests will love like this paleo-friendly sweet potato casserole.
The bottom line: Guests will appreciate a few updated recipes, and you can indulge without feeling too guilty or getting off-track.
2. Plan workouts in advance (but be realistic about them).
Before heading home for the holidays or getting ready for guests, chances are you have really great intentions of sticking to your normal workout regimen. But then the excitement of the season coupled with family monopolizing your time gets in the way. So how can you stick to a routine? By setting realistic goals and planning in advance.
If your holiday plans mean you can only work out twice throughout the week, that’s okay. Just be smart about the workouts you choose and let your family know in advance that you have plans to stay healthy. Or better yet, invite them to join you for a sweat sesh!
Here are a few ways to get creative with your holiday workouts:
- Weave family time into workout time by organizing a group 5k race. Most cities will hold a Turkey Trot or Christmas Day 5k. In Charlotte, you can hit up the Southpark Turkey Trot. Or, simply encourage a family member to join you for a post-meal walk around the neighborhood instead of lounging in front of the TV.
- Plan at least one intense sweat session (e.g., CrossFit, bootcamp, hot yoga). If you are traveling and have to sign up or pay money to participate — even better. (Hello, accountability!)
- Do what you can with what you have. If time is limited, create your own at-home mini-workouts to do when you wake up in the morning. For example, you could do a quick 10-minute workout consisting of 25 push-ups, 25 sit-ups and 25 tricep dips for as many rounds as possible.
3. Don’t drink your calories (but don’t be afraid to indulge a little).
The holidays typically mean a bit of over-indulgence when it comes to cocktails. For some it’s eggnog, others gin and tonic. Either way, it’s important to remember that adult beverages come packed with sugar and simple carbohydrates that can wreak havoc on our bodies.
So while it’s okay to indulge a bit, consider drinks that contain less sugar. This will help keep calories a bit lower, and can even help keep hangovers at bay. Try steering clear of beer or mixing liquor with non-sugary drinks like soda water.
Overall, the key to staying on track during the holidays is simple: Have a plan for staying healthy, but allow yourself a few small indulgences.