It’s the most wonderful time of the year again and we all know what that means—the days are shorter, colder and darker while the parties and family gatherings are plentiful! And that next finish line feels SO far away making it easy to get a little too caught up in the holiday cheer! Looking for ways you can stay motivated to stay on top of your health and training goals this holiday season? We’ve got some tips and ideas below to keep you on track while still being merry and bright!
Don’t skip meals or snacks: You hear of people not eating so they can 'save calories for later.' Instead, use these meals before the big party as opportunities to get in the ‘good stuff’ to keep you healthy during the winter months. Load up on fruits, veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats to keep you feeling full. You don’t want to go to the party starving and end up going overboard on your favorite cheese dip or dessert. Then you can enjoy your favorite holiday treats in moderation knowing you’ve given your body plenty of nutrients earlier in the day.
Mindfulness: When you are having a holiday indulgence, SAVOR IT! Be mindful and don’t rush the meal to go get seconds. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you’re full. So slow down and enjoy your dinner company!
Make fitness FUN: Incorporate physical activity during the day and don’t approach it as a way to 'earn calories' or 'burn off the meal.' Make it fun and something you enjoy that you might not always have time to do, like sledding, a local 5k race with friends, or a hike!
Keep your distance: When at holiday parties and family meals, try NOT to stand or socialize right next to the table with all the food or the kitchen. If you keep your distance, you won’t be as tempted to graze and keep grabbing food (sometimes without even realizing it!).
Bring an option: Take one healthy dish with you. If it’s the type of party where you bring something along, bring something you enjoy that’s healthy so you know you have one go-to food.
Make a plan: Once at a party or family gathering, survey the scene and make a plan of attack of what you will eat and drink. For example, pick one dessert that you will eat, one main course, two sides, etc.. And decide in advance how much you will drink. Then keep yourself accountable! If you go in without a plan, chances are you will rationalize extra servings of this, that and everything else! This way you can still enjoy those favorites!
Stay hydrated: Dehydration can make us feel like we’re hungry, even when we really aren’t. So before you grab an extra snack or serving, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes. If you’re still hungry, then go for it! Staying hydrated also helps to prevent those holiday hangovers. If you’re training through this holiday season, the slightest bit of dehydration can have a negative impact on aerobic performance.
Looking for a quick and easy recipe to stay clear of that platter of cookies or array of pies? Here’s one of our favorites from the Endurance Training Diet and Cookbook:
In just a few simple steps you’ll have a dessert that will wow everyone over night! Dairy free and rich in flavor, this treat also packs a nutritional punch with its omega-3 fatty acid and fiber content.
The holidays are a busy time of year that can quickly derail health and fitness goals, but with a few simple steps you can have the cookies AND still stay on track!
About the Author: Stevie Lyn Smith is a Registered Dietitian at The Core Diet and is currently working on her MS in Applied Nutrition through Northeastern University. She is an eight-time Ironman Finisher, Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifier, and 50-miler ultra marathon finisher. In her free time you can find her playing with her puppy or adventuring around the world! To learn more about The Core Diet and their services, check them out at https://www.thecorediet.com/services/.
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