By Crystal Breaux | Courtesy Photo
The holidays can be overwhelming and stressful. The two days meant for celebration turn into six weeks of overeating and overscheduling, with a lack of exercise. The combination can lead to feelings of guilt, stress, exhaustion and sometimes defeat after having worked hard to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight over the last 10 months.
How does that happen? One reason might be the need to add more and more to our to-do lists. I’m guilty of unrealistically thinking I can buy one more present, plan or attend one more party and take my children to another holiday event. Sound familiar?
If you have been exercising all year, the lack of time for exercise can be frustrating and can set you back mentally and physically. However, with a little bit of thought, you can stay healthy and fit, even through the holidays. First, sit down and write a new, perhaps altered, workout schedule with modified goals for the holidays. It might not be realistic to exercise like you have the past few months. Then, of course, when you are unable to keep that schedule, you are more likely to quit exercising all together, which makes it even more difficult when the new year begins. So how to set realistic goals for the holidays? Fit the frequency, duration, intensity and type of exercise into the new holiday schedule.
For example, if exercising five days a week, set a goal to get in three. If the routine has consisted of 45 minutes, schedule 30 minutes instead and increase intensity. Maybe the daily schedule included going to the gym at a regular time for a favorite class. If that does not work, replace the class workout with a walk at a new time. Have fun with the planning and make it a family affair by getting the children or out-of-town guests involved.
Secondly, in order for you to meet your new goals, decide what parties and events are a priority so you’re not overwhelmed with a loaded schedule. Save time by writing down a gift list at the beginning of the season and stick to it. Of course there is always the unexpected, but have a general plan. This can allow focus on the season’s priority, which is health.
If traveling this season, get a plan of action before leaving.
- Look for walking or hiking trails where you may be staying.
- Check out any local gyms in the area.
- Suggest an exercise activity for a family event.
- Bring along a 10 minute workout that can be done anywhere.
In addition to the lack of time for exercise during the holidays, it can feel like you are surrounded by food. For six weeks or more, there is the temptation to overindulge with yummy treats, which can lead to feeling defeated. As with exercise goals, get specific with a few preventative ideas.
Don’t Skip Meals. It’s tempting to want to save all of your calories for the party. However, that can leave you feeling famished without care or concern about what you eat. Make sure you eat a few small meals throughout the day and even a light snack before your go. It can help you feel in control of the situation when faced with temptation.
Choose One Treat. I have a few favorite items that I only get to eat during the holidays and can’t wait to make them my one treat at a party. Scan the menu before you fix your plate and choose the item you wish to indulge. Don’t waste time or calories on things like chips and dip that you may get all year long.
Control Your Drinking. Alcohol is an easy way to consume more calories than you need. Watch the fruity drinks and especially the eggnog, which can have up to 350 calories a cup. Alternate drinks with a glass of water, and if you choose a high calorie drink, give up something else in the food line.
There isn’t a set rule that applies to everyone. The important thing is to sit down and set goals for a personal holiday schedule to reduce stress and stay in control. By thinking it through with a plan, one can enjoy the holidays and avoid the feelings of guilt associated with overeating and a lack of exercise.