How to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season

November 10, 2020

How to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time when many put healthy living on the back burner and promise to start during the new year. While this may work for some, it is not necessary. There are some fun ways to include healthy living in your holiday season. You can still enjoy the holidays while keeping up with healthy lifestyle choices. Here are a few ways to stay healthy during the holidays.

Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Family Activities

The holidays are the perfect time to spend quality time together. While some of the activities that are typical of the holidays work against a healthy lifestyle choice, there are many that won’t. In fact, with a bit of creativity, you can include healthy living in your family time. There are many fun family outings that can easily include healthier approaches to things. Here are a few healthy holiday family activity ideas.

Healthy Holiday Family Activities

Hiking

One great way to spend time together is to head out hiking together. Taking the family on a good hiking trail can be a fantastic way to spend time together. Not only will it challenge your family to get more active but it will help you to disconnect from technology and connect with the family. The best thing about choosing hiking is that you can tailor the experience to the age of your children. Pick trails that will work well for your family. Here are a few tips for holiday hiking with the family.

  • Dress in layers - During the winter months the weather can vary throughout the day. Wearing layers will give you the ability to warm up if needed or remove layers if you get too warm.
  • Pack a hiking bag - When heading out on a trail with the family it is important to pack a hiking bag with snacks, a first aid kit, water bottles, and extra clothing layers you may need.
  • Research the trails before heading out - Not all trails that are open during the summer months will stay open during the winter months. Take some time to research the trails in your area to be sure they are still open and safe to walk with your family. 

Sledding

If you are somewhere that has snow, heading out sledding can be a perfect way to get active while enjoying family time. Even better, this is an activity you can do with the entire family. Many places where you will go sledding will involve a lot of walking/climbing. You can take children of all ages along for a fun day out. Here are a few tips for making the most of a family sledding trip this holiday season.

  • Pack a change of clothes - Many children will want to change clothes after sledding into dry and warm clothes. Make sure to pack a change of clothes in the car so they can change before heading home. And a warm woobie is a must!
  • Pack a lunch bag - Whether you eat in the car before heading out sledding, or after, having a lunch bag filled with good food can be a great addition to a day out sledding together. Include a thermos with warm milk for hot chocolate to enjoy after sledding.
  • Check before you sled - It’s important for safety to check the hill you plan to sled before sledding. Make sure that it ends somewhere safe and is not too steep for younger children. 

Ice Skating

Ice skating is another perfect holiday family time activity. Children of all ages can take part in spending a day together on the ice. Spend some time together being active at a local ice rink. Younger children can join their parents on the ice and take breaks when needed. Spending time ice skating together can give you a healthy way to make memories together. Here are a few tips for enjoying ice skating as a family.

  • Dress in layers - When ice skating it can help to dress in layers. This will help if children fall on the ice or start to get too warm. Having layers gives children the chance to take items off when needed.
  • Bring a first aid kit - Ice skating can be a lot of fun but children can fall and get hurt. Bring along a first aid kit to take care of any bumps or scratches. Make sure to include BAND-AID®, first aid cream, and a warm blanket in case they get too cold.
  • Bring snacks with you - When getting out and ice skating you may find that you get hungry for a delicious snack. Bring along healthy snack options to enjoy while taking a break from skating. 

Visit a Nature Preserve

If you are looking for a unique way to stay healthy and get active, visit a local nature preserve. Nature preserves will offer a variety of experiences at different times of the year. In the winter months, you will have the opportunity to see different wildlife than you might see in the summer months. Many of these nature preserves have places you can go walking together. Even better, the wildlife will keep children engaged in the experience. Here are a few tips for visiting a nature preserve during the holidays.

  • Call before you visit - Not all nature preserves will stay open during the winter months or offer the same things. It’s important to call before visiting to be sure they offer the experiences you are hoping for.
  • Pack a bag - When visiting a nature preserve it can help to have a backpack filled with a few essential supplies. A few suggestions are a first aid kit, snacks, water bottles, binoculars, and a local wildlife guide.
  • Bring along a camera - You will have the chance to see a variety of wildlife while you are out walking with the family. Bring along a camera so that you can capture some of the memories while you are out together. 

Make time for exercise

Exercising can be so important. However, during the holidays it can often be removed from the schedule for other things. Whether you work out in the gym or at home, fitting in exercise is so important. Not only is making time for exercise important for your physical health it can be helpful for your mental health. Here are a few ways to make exercise a part of your holiday season.

Ways to make exercise a part of your holidays

Schedule it in

Making exercise a part of your routine during the holidays can be so hard. There are so many tasks and events that demand your attention. It can be easy to bump a workout to accommodate other things. While this may seem like the only option, it doesn’t have to be. Instead, make exercise a part of your holidays by adding it to the schedule. Here are a few ways to keep exercise on the schedule.

  • Take a regular class with a set time - If you are prioritizing your health over the holidays, it can help to have a regular class with a set time. Options such as Zumba, working out with friends on a set day, or taking a cycling course can be good examples of this. If you are part of a group workout event it can be harder to bump it for other items.
  • Put it on the calendar - When trying to make working out a priority it can help to put it on the calendar in the same way you would any other important event. Once you write it onto the schedule it is easier to treat it as a commitment instead of an option.
  • Set a daily goal - While you may not be able to work out in the same way during the holidays, you can set a realistic daily goal you may want to reach. This might mean going out walking once a day, doing a workout routine certain days of the week, or accomplishing certain workouts each day. The point is to give yourself small manageable goals you can achieve. 

Make it a family workout

During the holidays, family time is one of the biggest goals for many. While working out can be seen as a way to take away from this quality time, it doesn’t have to. In fact, it can help to let children join in on your workouts. With a few tweaks, you can easily make most workouts family-friendly. Here are a few tips for family holiday workouts.

  • Take a daily family walk - If walking is a part of your daily workout routine, it can help to make it a family walk. If you have smaller children, don’t be afraid to bring strollers to let them sit while you walk. Taking a family walk can be a great way to get in some exercise with low stress.
  • Do a YouTube workout together - YouTube has a variety of children’s yoga workouts and family dance workouts you can do together. Find something that will still push you to workout while bringing some fun for the kids to take part in.
  • Let kids do a modification of your workout - When you are doing your workout, give the kids a modification of your exercises they can do. This will help them to feel accomplished with the workout while letting you achieve more involved workouts. 

Reclaim your time

When the holiday season begins people will give you a list of events, expectations, and plans for you to take part in. While some of these things can be good things, your health is also an important part of this season. It is completely ok to set boundaries for your time. This might mean saying your workout time is set and can't be moved or making a modified holiday workout schedule. Here are a few tips for reclaiming your time this holiday season.

  • Be intentional about what you say yes to - When planning things out during the holidays, everyone will have things they want you to be a part of. While there can be some good things, sometimes it's ok to only say yes to the great things. This will leave the margin you need to maintain your fitness goals throughout the holidays.
  • Be willing to defend your workout time - There are some who will suggest that giving up your workout time during the holidays is not a big deal. However, giving up your workout time during the holidays can have negative physical and mental health implications. It is completely ok to set boundaries for workout time and explain that it is a priority to you.
  • Don't be afraid to set boundaries - When planning your workouts for your holiday season it can be helpful to set boundaries. This may mean saying which workouts have to happen and which ones are negotiable. By having a clear definition of which workouts are able to be canceled and which ones aren't it will be able to set boundaries for yourself. It may help to say two of my workouts each week are a must but I'm flexible on the days I do them. Setting a clear but flexible boundary can help a great deal. 

Take advantage of downtime

During the holidays you may have to get a little more creative with how you fit fitness into your schedule. Times that may have worked the rest of the year may be harder to find. This might mean getting a little creative with your workout schedule. However, it doesn't mean you have to give up your workout. Here are a few tips for taking advantage of downtime for working out.

  • Workout before everyone wakes up - Early mornings can be the perfect time to sneak out and fit in some exercise time. Pack your bag the night before and set your alarm for before everyone wakes up for the day to start your day off with your workout. This will give you the chance to prioritize your health while still showing up for some of the other holiday happenings you don't want to miss.
  • Workout during downtimes in the day - Do the kids take a nap? Is there a time when the family is content to watch a show or do their own thing? This can be the perfect time to fit in a workout on a busy day. It might mean sacrificing a bit of downtime in order to get those workouts in but it can be a way to work around a holiday schedule.
  • Workout when everyone heads to bed - If you are not an early riser another option is to workout after everyone has gone to bed for the night. This can give you a chance to fit in a workout while still being present during the day. If you workout outside of the home, make sure to pack a gym bag during the day so that everything is ready to go. 

Make wise food choices

During the holidays some of the best foods and desserts are offered frequently. While these items may be a favorite, they may not fit with current healthy living goals. Many people will give up healthy eating and lean into the holidays. There are ways to enjoy the holidays and eat what you love. Here a few tips for healthy holiday eating.

Practice portion control 

Holiday foods can be amazing and there are some foods you just don't want to say no to. In fact, there are some foods that are essential to a true holiday experience. Many people will suggest giving these foods up completely. That is not necessary. Instead, try portion controlling the items you choose to eat. Here are a few tips for holiday portion control.

  • Know your limits for portions - Many of the foods you will see served won't come with a suggested serving size. Instead, it can help to know what your limit is for your personal health goals. Ask yourself how much you need to enjoy it without overindulging. Eat that portion and feel better about enjoying that food.
  • Choose the smaller plate - When choosing a holiday meal it can help to choose a smaller plate and fill it. The instinct many people have is to fill the plate. By choosing a smaller plate you can naturally control your portions. If you are still hungry after a smaller plate you can always go back for seconds. However, using a smaller plate will give you control over portions.
  • Serve your own food - When others serve food they have a tendency to be overly generous with their portions. This can lead to eating out of obligation to avoid being wasteful. Instead, choose to prepare your own plate so that you can properly portion out what you will realistically eat. 

Know when to say yes or no

When eating with family during the holidays there can be a lot of obligatory eating. Whether it's grandma's famous pie or a cousin's famous sweet potatoes, saying no can be difficult. There are so many in the family who take pride in their signature dish. Some of these items may not fit your health goals. Here are a few tips for knowing what to say yes or no.

  • Saying no is not unkind - When making healthy eating choices some will assume you are being unkind when you say no to a dish you used to enjoy. It is completely ok to say no in a kind way. Some ways to politely decline are to say, “Thank you but no thank you,” “I appreciate the offer but I am making different food choices,” or simply “no thank you” as you don’t have to explain your choices if you don’t want to.
  • Say no to things you don't love so you can say yes to the ones you do - If there is a dish that is a holiday favorite it is ok to say no to other options so you can better enjoy the items you're allowed to have. Instead of no, you could say, "I'm saving a little room on my plate for…" and share the item you are hoping to enjoy.
  • Say yes to items you can enjoy - While you will have to say no to some items, there will also be some that can be an easy yes based on your eating habits. Don't be afraid to enjoy a portion of your favorite foods. It is ok to agree to the items you know you can safely enjoy. Sometimes saying yes to certain foods can be the encouragement to keep going with a healthy eating lifestyle. 

Bring your own items

Sometimes items you might be able to enjoy aren't part of the holiday meal. This can be discouraging and leave you second-guessing healthy choices. Instead of letting this work against you try a simple tip. Bring items you know you can enjoy an event or meal. Here are a few tips for bringing your own items.

  • Offer to contribute a dish - This will look like you are simply set on helping make sure you are contributing to the meal. While that is true, this is a fantastic way to make sure you're able to eat at any event this season. Contribute a dish that you can enjoy but that others might still appreciate.
  • Bring a lunch bag - It can also help to pack lunch with items you know you can have. While you may not be able to share these items, it can help to have them on hand as an alternative at holiday events. When packing items, it can help to make the host of the event aware of your dietary needs so they know it is not an attack on their food preparation.
  • Host the meal or event - Another way to control the items served is to offer to host. This may mean you have to do more work but it will give you more control over what is served and options that are healthy for you. If people would like to contribute they can bring items that match their dietary needs but this will give you a bit more control over the items you need to have available to you.

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