Ten tips for a healthier holiday

By Tara Wallace
Reader Contributor

Tara Wallace

Nothing like kickstarting the holidays with a week of having pumpkin pie and coffee for breakfast (tell me I’m not the only one). The struggle is real, my friends! That’s why I thought I’d share a few tips to help you navigate your way through the holidays.

Give. Just as the John Lennon and Yoko Ono song says…”And so this is Christmas, And what have you done? Another year over, A new one just begun…” As this year comes to a close, take a moment to look back on what you have done for others. What more could you do? What more could you give? Don’t have extra money? Donate. Volunteer. Give your time. Share a special skill. Spare some extra change. Give, to the next Santa you see ringing a bell, or a nice tip to an unexpecting server at your next meal out. Try giving, and just see how you feel.

Move. The best way to exercise is to find a type that doesn’t feel like work to you. Make it fun. Help a neighbor with shoveling. Take a child ice-skating. Mix it up, do something you don’t normally do. Snowshoe, go cross country skiing, just get active. Dance, as often as you can. Plan a holiday 5-K with your family. If 5-Ks aren’t your thing, get creative. Go for a walk with family members. Walk someones dog, or your own. Dogs are cardio machines with fur! With that said, don’t wait until Jan. 1 to set your New Year’s goal. Be thinking about it now and get a jumpstart by getting started.

Indulge. Savor without guilt, all the things that you really love. But be selective. Be picky. Scan the appetizers. Hint: You can eat cheese cubes or chips and dip at any party. Don’t waste your calories. Choose things that are seasonal; like Dad’s special kahlua frappes or the beaujolais nouveau you’ve waited the last 11 months for. Take your time, enjoy the flavors and the company you’re sharing these foods with. Take and post pictures of your holiday food, then put that phone down and be truly present and in the moment.

Drink. Hydrate! With water! For starters, make sure you are getting at least half your body weight in ounces of water. (A 150 pound woman should be getting at least 75 ounces/ of water per day) Water is the key to living an energized life, with vitality. If you love alcohol, drink one or two glasses of water between alcoholic beverages. If nothing else, it will help with the hangover. Drink coconut water before bed after a late night of partying. Choose drinks wisely. Order drinks on the rocks — melting ice is your friend and creates more liquid. Use seltzer water or fresh squeezed lemon or lime as mixers to slash extra calories. Experiment with mocktails. Drink tea whenever possible. Dr. Oz says that peppermint tea helps relieve headaches. And above all, don’t drink and drive. Losing your license or killing someone else’s loved one because of poor judgment is a total party foul. Drink responsibly or just don’t.

Bake. Make, decorate and share the cookies. But, be mindful. Too much sugar can break down your immune system. If you get too caught up in tasting everything, licking the batter, eating raw cookie dough and eating all the broken cookies, you may just wake up sick not too soon after. And who wants to miss the annual work party? Try baking with half the sugar. Not just for your waistline, but to be on your best defense from colds. Find healthier alternatives, like swapping applesauce into recipes that call for oil. Consider baking sugar-free, gluten-free or organic this year. There’s a reason these baked goods are trending. More people are becoming health conscious. And chances are, people will appreciate these thoughtful treats.

Travel. Life is short. Make the trip. Visit friends and family. Don’t throw away your healthy habits and the practices of who you’ve become. When traveling, pack healthy snacks like organic apples and protein bars. If you regularly exercise and find yourself away from your favorite spin class for the week, be brave. Venture out in a new place and take a class. Try something different. Get out of your comfort zone. See what people are doing in other communities for their health — it’s inspiring. Accompany a family member to their gym or workout class. Same goes if you have relatives staying with you. Find out ahead of time what your gym charges for a guest pass. Let houseguests know you plan to go to the gym, or yoga class, invite them. Leave it up to them if they want to join you. Make a plan, schedule those workouts and don’t make excuses. Working out is one of the greatest forms of self-care we can do for ourselves, especially in a time where we are spread thin and have so much to do for others. Love and take care of your self, so you can actively love and take care of those around you.

Entertain. Throw a party or gathering at your home. Share your holiday traditions and dishes with friends and loved ones. Not only is having a party the best way to get your home spotless and organized, you’ll burn a ton of extra calories if you clean the house yourself. If you decide to host a holiday party, do not stress. If you’re going to be stressed out, then what’s the point in doing it? Relax, have fun, enjoy your guests. Offer healthy dishes to your guests.

Party. ‘Tis the season. Choose to go to the parties that mean the most to you. It’s OK say no. If you are going to be attending a party where you know you’ll be indulging, plan accordingly. Do not skip breakfast or lunch the day of the party. This can often backfire and lead to overeating. Stay on track with protein shakes or green smoothies. Schedule time for extra cardio that week. Be the guest who brings a healthy dish to share. That way you can count on there being at least one healthy option. Do bring enough for others. Wow your friends with a healthy, festive salad. Think pomegranates or cranberries on a bed of greens. Ask yourself if certain behaviors will be getting you closer to or further away from your goals.

Sleep. Plain and simple. Get enough of it. Go to bed early while you can. It’s OK to leave a party early to go home. Rest as hard as you play.

Let go. Be like “Frozen” and let it go. Let go of the idea that everything will run perfectly smooth this holiday. Set an intention of all you want to accomplish, and let go of your expectations. It’s not about what’s under the tree. It’s about who is around that tree. Who is at your table. Seasons change, family dynamics change, traditions change. Divorce happens, death happens and before you know it, every tradition you once partook in can seem like a far away dream. Focus on a few traditions you want to keep, the ones that make you feel alive. Think about what is most meaningful to you during the holidays and focus on that. Or, create new traditions. Invite others to be a part of your special gathering. No one should be alone on the holidays. Be mindful of your mental health. No one should be so stressed about not having enough money to buy Christmas presents, that they end up having a heart attack. Focus on all that you do have and be grateful. Go out of your way to be extra jolly. Lastly, if you are having trouble getting into the spirit, look inside yourself. The magic is already within you.

Tara Wallace is an ACE-certified personal trainer who can be found at Natural Fitness Gym. When not training in the gym, she’s either cooking up a storm, eating out or hiking with her dogs.  Tara’s offering a FREE spin class starting in January. Fridays at 8 a.m. Free to members, but donations are being taken for the Panhandle Animal Shelter.

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