Regardless of your beliefs or where you are in the world, the holiday season is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate what we have. Whilst that is all very well and good, it doesn't always have a positive impact on your health... Yes, I'm talking about your waistline. We all have that one (or multiple) family members or friends who constantly make sure there's some form of alcohol in your glass and a delicious mound of food on your plate. And it's often very hard to say no, especially as it's the holidays and, well, it's only once a year.
What to do about it? Obviously, you don't want to let the hard work you’ve put into the gym and kitchen over the past few months disappear in a week. At the same time, however, you want to be able to enjoy yourself and join in with the festivities. Somehow we have been conditioned to see the holidays and the ability to enjoy yourself as being mutually exclusive with maintaining your healthy lifestyle. That shouldn’t be the case. So, without further ado here's a few tips on having a Ho Ho Healthy Holiday.
1. Portion Control
Two scary words that don't necessarily go hand in hand with the holiday season (words 5-year-old me knew only too well when I asked my parents why I couldn't have a bigger slice of cake, or extra helping of ice cream). Limit the amount of food you have, listen to your body and if you’re not hungry don’t eat. Rather than ten of everything just have a taster, having a smaller plate size helps massively.
2. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Yes, easier said than done, right? Alcohol can be in just as bad as food for making that new pair of jeans your Aunt Bessy got you strangely tight. Have one or two glasses tops, know your limits (in the UK women should not regularly exceed 2-3 units daily and men 3-4) Don't drink everyday: let your body recover and save it for the couple of special days.
3. Treat Yourself
This may sound a bit confusing, but trust me, we all need to cut ourselves some slack every so often. I mean come on, it's the holidays. If you keep repressing your cravings for a little something sweet chances are they'll snowball (HAHA winter pun) and eventually resurface as something even worse - what could've been a moment of sweet delight could turn into a full-blown cheat week. So just remember MODERATION.
Think about your goals, what you've been through already and how good summer is going to be (yes I’m talking about those beach photos in swimwear) Perhaps more importantly you don't want to be one of those “newbies” who ride the annual "resolution wave" to the gym, you were there first so act like it, set an example!
Perhaps the most important item on this list, it is strange how easily forgettable it becomes around the holiday period. When “the weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful” it’s hard to motivate yourself to leave the house let alone get to the gym. I’m not saying you must go to the gym every day (if you somehow do, maybe you should be writing these blogs!) even going once or twice is better than nothing! What I’m getting at though is, don’t just sit around the house. Yes we have family and friends coming over, shopping to do etc. but you can still get out and do stuff. Go for a nice long walk (if it’s cold it makes getting back to a warm house even more satisfactory, nothing beats that cosy feeling after being out in the cold. Just don’t forget to wrap up!)
So, there you have it. My five tips to having and enjoying a healthy holiday. One of my favourite films for this time of year is It’s a Wonderful Life (if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a watch…or hundred!) Anyway, here’s a quote from the film’s protagonist, George:
“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”
I think it means a different thing to everyone, but to me it’s about spontaneity, fun and dreams – things we all need in our lives, not just for the holidays. I hope you all have a wonderful time over the festive period, stay healthy!
Alex is one of the most enthusiastic and energetic members of the PumpUp community. Read more of his wellness insight on the blog, and follow his posts on PumpUp @alexn95!