Gearing Up For the Holidays: How to Stay on Track

by Lauren on October 25, 2012

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the holidays are right around the corner.  Christmas is exactly 2 months away, can you believe it?  I’m sure you’re excited for all of the wonderful feel-good emotions that the holidays bring- connecting with family and friends, engaging in joyful parties and events, and of course, indulging in some guilty food pleasures.  Who wouldn’t be excited for that?

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 As the days grow closer and you find yourself bookmarking more Christmas cookie recipes, you might start to worry how all of the emotional stress is going to effect your current health goals.  Let’s face it, the most wonderful time of the year can also be one of the most overwhelming times and if we aren’t focused on staying on track and putting our own health first, it’s going to be easy to let everything go and promise ourselves we’ll just write it off in the new year.

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The key is having a plan to tackle these next few months.  It doesn’t have to extension and you certainly want to give yourself some extra grace because we all know, it’s a time to celebrate love, life and happiness, not to feel guilt for the things we did not do.

Here are my top 5 ways put your health in front of the holidays:

1. Never skip a meal.

“Saving” your calories doesn’t do your body any favors, it actually does the complete opposite.  When you skip a meal, you’re slowing down your metabolism and decreasing your energy stores.  It’s a guaranteed way to eat more later on in the day so by the time you get to that party, you’ll be all over the chips and dip like it was your job.  Instead of bypassing breakfast and lunch, aim for  healthy balanced meals throughout the day and let yourself indulge just a little on the extensive buffet spread at your office Christmas party.

2. Schedule your workouts.

If you think your to-do list is jam packed now, just wait until you start adding in Christmas shopping, parties, and any other holiday related gatherings that always seem to pop up after Halloween. Exercise might become less of a priority but don’t let it!  Always remember how good you feel after a great workout and let that be your motivator to keep you on track.  Now more than ever, it’s best to make a routine and stick to it as best you can.  If you plan on working out 3 times a week in the morning, write it out and check it off each time you complete it.  Seeing your goals in front of you will make it easier to remember and help you stay focused.

3. Control your stress hormones.

Adrenaline is your short-term “fight or flight” stress hormone that’s triggered by point-in-time situations (e.g, last minute shopping, social encounters, finishing your work to make it home by dinner). Cortisol is your long-term stress hormone that’s triggered by stressful situations in general (e.g., dealing with finances, worrying about your health). Elevated levels of either of these hormones causes your body to store weight. So, no matter how healthy you eat if you have high stress levels your body will hold onto weight.

4. Increase your protein at every meal.

There are many wonderful benefits of protein but a big one is that it keeps you full and energized for a long period of time.  It’s important to have enough protein at every meal so that our blood sugar doesn’t drop and we aren’t always feeling that sudden urge of hunger.  The holidays are a great reason to partake in some extra treats that we may not get a chance to have often, but if we are indulging in a sugar overload now until January, it’s only going to make it harder to get back on track once the holiday season ends.

5. Get lots of sleep.

Sleep is critical in maintaining a health weight and immune system.  Do you ever notice how so many people start to develop nasty sicknesses this time of year?  If you want to keep yourself free from colds and other illness, make sure your body is getting enough rest every single day.  It’s easy to let this one go, especially if we feel like we will miss out on the festivities, but remember, if we aren’t getting our proper zzz’s, we put ourselves at risk for a lower immune system, which in turn could result in weight gain and feeling lousy when everyone else is celebrating.

I’m thrilled for the holidays and you should be too!  Nothing brings me more joy than gearing up for a feast, spending time with my family as we digest over a game of FoxyBingo (some traditions never die), and reliving past memories.  It’s a beautiful time and one that I never want to look back on and think how unhappy I felt with myself or my choices.  So eat a cookie or two, have an extra cocktail and maybe even a slice of pie, but just remember that these acts should not be the focus of your day.  Live as you normally would, take everything in, and remember that your health and happiness are what always matters.

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Question: What is your favorite tip for staying on track during the holiday season? 

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{ 18 comments }

Amanda @ Romancing the Unusual October 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I’m new to the blog world but I’ve wanted to say I love this! I am coming off a very indulgent couple of months and want to be sure I don’t over do it going into the holiday season! My favorite tip for the Holidays is to have what you want and then be done with it. Eating pumpkin pie for breakfast for the week after Thanksgiving has never done me any favors! ;)

Lauren October 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi Amanda! It’s so great to meet you and thanks for stopping by! :)

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More October 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I really think it’s a time to remember everything in moderation. Of course we might indulge a bit more than usual, but I know (from experience), the more sugar I eat, the more I crave.

Lauren October 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Me too!

Tina @ Best Body Fitness October 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Great tips! I think planning is the key part of staying on track. Plan to be as balanced as possible with meals and getting in activity. And the stress one is huge and something all too easily forgot. Stress makes a big impact!

Lauren October 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

So so true! I can’t tell people enough how much stress effects so many aspects of their health.

Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife October 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm

what great tips! I think the one that is the hardest for me is scheduling my workouts and making sure i complete them throughout the whole craziness of getting together with everyone over the holiday season!

Lauren October 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm

One thing I love to do is sign up for a race right smack in the middle of the holiday season, that way I know I’ll have something to stick to during it all. I love doing a turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning too!

Danielle @ itsaharleyyylife October 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I was hoping that I’d be able to do a holiday run but of course I have to work thanksgiving, christmas eve, christmas day… but I do have off New years day maybe I’ll look to see if I can find one that day! (:

Erica @ For the Sake of Cake October 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm

These are great tips! For me, it’s making sure to enjoy special holiday-only treats, but not to go completely overboard! I can’t say I’ve mastered it, but I work on this every holiday season.

Lauren October 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

So key not to deprive yourself of those amazing treats but definitely practice portion control. Thanks for sharing Erica!

Alysha @Shesontherun October 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Cutting down on stress by taking time to feel grateful. I’m a stress eater, so this is definitely a healthy habit I live by.

Lauren October 25, 2012 at 9:39 pm

So true! Stress has so much to do with it.

Trish October 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Oddly enough, I’ve had most of my weight loss successes prior to the holidays. I love summer so I indulge in so many of my favorites to “celebrate”. With fall comes comfort food season so I’m all about the carbs. By the time Halloween comes around, I’m so sick of sweets, carbs, & sugar that I’m literally starving for greens & proteins. I always do well in the month of November, indulge for Thanksgiving & my early December birthday, and then once again for Christmas. Keeping myself on track in the down time makes the holiday indulgence so much sweeter. And usually smaller since I’m so stoked about how great I’m feeling.

Lauren October 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm

That’s a great approach Trish. Thanks for sharing!!

Floey October 26, 2012 at 7:16 am

Already broke rule #5 and got the sickies :( Or whatever allergies counts as. Boo. My right ear has been plugged/clogged for a few days — hoping its just allergies!

Lauren October 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Oh no! Feel better girl!! xoxo

Emilie @ Hungry Delights October 31, 2012 at 1:41 am

These are things that I live by daily – I feel so much better if I stack up on protein :) Great tips for the holiday season too – I do tend to go a bit overboard when the christmas treats come out :P

xo Emilie @ Hungry Delights

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