Five Tips To Survive the Holiday Season
It's that time of year, again! Stores are decked out with ribbons, glitter, and this year's must-have toys. City sidewalks will soon follow suit with greenery on lamp posts and park benches. The chill in the air is countered by the warmth of holiday smiles, and the mailbox is full of cards from loved ones near and far.
'Tis the season of dinner parties and potlucks, school events, gift exchanges, and long shopping lines.
And the absolute last thing on our minds this time of year? For most people that would be staying fit and healthy. Hey, that's what New Year's Resolutions are for, right?!
Let's change that this year by focusing on our health during this hectic (and magical!) time, so that we're equipped with all the joyful spirits and energy the season requires!
The Aevitas team has come up with our top five tips to get you through this holiday season healthy and happy. Check them out below!
Tip #1: Stay Hydrated
This is literally one of the first and most often-provided pieces of advice we give to all of our athletes. You MUST stay hydrated, and many of us are chronically under-hydrated!
Proper hydration has many benefits, including thermo-regulation, proper digestion, joint lubrication, sustained energy levels, and so much more! Not only that, but becoming more hydrated is as simple as adding some plain old humble water into your daily routine.
So, how much do you need to drink to be adequately hydrated? While the actual need will vary person-to-person and even day-to-day, a solid rule of thumb is to drink half of your bodyweight (in pounds) in ounces of water each day. For instance, if you weigh 200lbs, you should shoot for 100 oz. of water per day (no, eggnog does not count)
Not even close to that number? Start working your way towards it gradually, and you'll feel the benefits almost immediately! Over the course of 1-2 weeks, you should be able to reach that nominal hydration goal and really start to feel like you can take this whole holiday season in stride!
Tip #2: Healthy Fats
Yes, we know. The seasonal foods of choice are not always what one would call "healthy", by any stretch. And most of the indulgences we allow ourselves this time of year are chock full of saturated and even trans fats, which can really mess you up when consumed in excess. So how do you combat the addition of fat-rich foods during these months? By making sure you're adequately fueled to take on the world and resist temptations, that's how!
Incorporating unprocessed fats from real food sources into our diets is crucial for metabolism, immunity, nutrient absorption, and heart health. And "unprocessed fats from real food sources" can mean anything from fish to walnuts to avocados and olive oil!
The trick, of course, is to try your best to strike a balance between the foods that you know are good for you and the foods that you know you'll be presented with at parties, on the go, etc.
For every fat-laden option presented to you within a day, ask yourself if there's a "better" version or option. Out to eat with friends at a restaurant? Maybe try the salmon with vegetables instead of the burger and fries. On an all-day holiday shopping extravaganza? Pack a heart-healthy snack like some walnuts or almonds, that will keep you satisfied without hitting up the Cinnabon counter. Staring down the dessert table at grandma's holiday gathering? Choose one (or maybe two) rich treats, then refer back to tip #1 and move away from the delacacies to find some refreshing water.
Tip #3: Lots of Protein
No, you don't have to down raw eggs Rocky Balboa-style to fuel up on healthy protein!
This piece of advice goes hand-in-hand with the healthy fats tip above. You see, staying adequately fueled during a long day of errands/shopping/visiting family/etc. will help you resist temptations and stay on track, and will keep your body working properly.
Proteins are the building blocks of every tissue in our bodies, from muscles and bones to hair and fingernails. Fueling yourself with adequate protein (again, from real food sources) helps your body stabalize energy levels, reduce hunger, support cognitive functions like concentration, and absorb nutrients. So you can probably see why we want you to get enough of it!
Getting adequate protein is a task that actually takes some planning and prepping, as protein is not as easy to find in a grab-and-go package. So take the time to plan healthy, protein-rich meals and prep them in advance. Your health is worth the effort!
For every meal you eat that isn't out at a restaurant or party, you'll know you're putting quality protein into your body. For the other times, try to look for protein-rich options over the sometimes-more-tempting carb- and fat- laden treats.
Tip #4: Sleep
A good night's rest is an invaluable asset to your life, any time of year. Don't try to fight us on this one. We know it's difficult, but we also know the importance of rest and recovery, especially during times of elevated stress (aka the holiday season!)
Most of us not only do not receive the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but we also may struggle with getting quality sleep. It's the high-quality deep sleep we're really after here, because that's when our bodies actually go to work repairing and recovering.
Struggling with getting enough sleep? You're not alone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to fix it! Start with making (and keeping) a nighttime routine. We'll leave an example below, but you should think of it like this: remove extra stimuli, complete monotonous/ritualized activites, then ease yourself into a more deeply relaxed state before finally drifting off to sleep.
Here's an example of how we wind down: Turn off and put away TV/electronic devices, turn off all extra lights, complete bedtime rituals (like teeth brushing and bathing), then take 5 or 10 minutes for stretching, yoga, meditation, or journaling before tucking yourself in.
Notice we didn't say "check email/social media feeds right before your head touches the pillow"? Yes, that was left out intentionally.
Tip #5: Moderation
This one is last, because, well, you should have already heard this about a million times already. But what is "moderation", anyway?
Understanding the demands and temptations of the season, as well as how you're likely to respond to those demands and temptations, is the first step in understanding your own strategy for moderation. For instance, is there a potluck party you always attend and find that you never eat the veggie options but go straight for the cheese dip? Or, do you put off gift shopping until the very last minute and know that you're going to be faced with a long day in public with a lot of other stressed-out people?
Once you know what you'll probably experience, make a game plan for how you will get through those situations and feel good about your choices. At the party, acknowledge that the cheese dip is there, but put veggies on your plate FIRST so there's less room for it. Then walk away. On your way out the door for your shopping trip, pack a few healthy snacks (refer to Tip #2!) and eat them if you need more fuel - only visiting food vendors if and when those healthy options are gone.
Importantly, no one should be afraid to have a good time and indulge a little bit during the holiday season. After all, it's the most wonderful time of the year, and it should feel that way! Using "moderation" means allowing ourselves to relax and treat ourselves within reason, knowing that we're not going to completely fall off the health wagon, hit our heads, and not wake up until New Year's Eve.
Knowing that you can have a great time while maintaining control over your health is a real super-power, and one that we are all capable of gaining with practice!
Hopefully these tips have armed you with the confidence and game plan you need to conquer this holiday season, happier and healthier than ever before!
Oh, and when you're ready to continue your health momentum, stop by CrossFit Aevitas for a great workout with the most positive community around!