Don’t Give Up On Your Health Goals This Holiday Season

What holiday treat breaks you every year? 

Is it the hot cinnamon buns in the morning? The mounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing at dinner? The Christmas cookies and hot cocoa at night?

Struggling to stay healthy throughout the year is a big enough challenge. Then come the holidays, and many throw in the towel on their health journey or put off their health goals until January.

Staying healthy requires a balance between excess and restriction, not only during December but throughout the entire year. It demands that you don’t fall into the All-or-Nothing mindset—that health saboteur that keeps us in the vicious cycle of crash diets and binging. 

So today I’m going to talk about how to make the most of the holiday season, take care of your body, and continue to make strides in your health and wellness journey. 

Check out these 7 practices that will keep you on track all the way through the new year.

1. Make a plan. 

Don’t wing it this December. Start early with a solid health plan that will guide you and keep you on track through the holidays. Without a road map for your health journey, you’ll find yourself derailed and lost in a pile of sugar cookies and candy canes. 

Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping that you’ll eat healthily, stay active, rest, and recover, plan out the month. Here’s how: 

  • Get the timing right: There are only three weeks left in December. Make sure you keep this in mind while setting your goals and schedule.
  • Set realistic goals: Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish for your health and wellness in the next three weeks. Setting small and simple goals that you can achieve is much better than setting unrealistic goals that are too big. 
  • Set the schedule: Once you’ve set realistic goals, plot them out on the calendar. Schedule which days you’ll hit the gym or take a walk. Create a healthy meal plan, even if it’s just for breakfast and lunch. Plan when you can meal prep. Just make sure you set a sensible schedule you can stick to. 
  • Keep track of your progress: Check in with your goals daily. Use a habit tracker or jot down your accomplishments and daily goals in a notebook each morning or evening. Even five minutes a day thinking about your health goals will make a difference.

2. Prioritize your practices.  

Once your plan is in place, it’s important to stick to those practices firmly. December isn’t the time to overload your health goals and overcomplicate your practices. Instead, focus on the staples, making sure to meet your basic physical needs daily. These specific practices could include: 

  • Hitting your daily protein needs
  • Drinking water with electrolytes
  • Staying active for 20 minutes
  • Catching 6-8 hours of sleep

Don’t skimp on the things that you know work for you. If getting 20 minutes of walking in the morning makes you feel alert, alive, and ready to take on the day, make sure you do it—even if your family is lounging around.

3. Prep when you don’t have holiday plans.

Over-restricting is just as bad for your long-term health goals as overindulging. 

During the holidays, make it your goal to strike a balance. Most likely, there will be meals you want to enjoy this Christmas, treats you want to splurge on a little, and nostalgic recipes you don’t want to give up. Instead of locking yourself away from family with a veggie plate, find your healthy balance. 

On those days when you know the dinner table will make your inner-dieter panic, prep yourself with healthy, whole-food meals the days or hours before. Prep healthy breakfasts and lunches to get ahead of the game and give you some space to enjoy a less-healthy meal in the evening. Automate the meals you can control to find a healthy balance that’s neither over-restrictive nor overindulgent.

4. Protein is your friend. 

Protein is essential for weight loss, so if you’re going to focus on one nutrition goal, make it this one. Protein has many health and weight loss benefits—it satiates your appetite, calms your carb cravings, and helps your body shed excess weight.

  • How much protein is enough? Your body weight is directly affected by the adequacy and quality of the protein in your daily diet. For your body to function at its best, protein must make up 20-30% of your daily food intake. Each day, try to eat 0.8-1.0 gram of protein per kilogram of your body weight. 
  • Best sources of protein during the holidays: Don’t pound fried chicken in the name of protein. Instead, look for healthy, whole-food, and healing sources of protein this December. Your Christmas table might already be loaded with a few great options like turkey, roasted beef tenderloin, lamb, grilled fish, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and chestnuts. 

Make sure in your prepped meals and holiday dinners you’re eating an adequate amount of protein each day. Keep protein top of mind throughout the holidays so you can feel full, enjoy a little treat here and there, and still reach your health goals.

5. Hydration will keep you happy. 

The holidays can be busy, even hectic at times. During other months, your water bottle can sit right in front of you on your desk for eight hours a day. In December, meeting your body’s need for hydration takes more intentionality.

If you’re like me, Christmas time calls for a few classy cocktails. Alcohol, unfortunately, causes further dehydration and depletes our electrolytes. No one wants a holiday hangover, so flush your body with lots of water and replenish your electrolytes throughout the day with these tips:

  • Hydrate before you caffeinate: Start the day with at least 16 oz of water. Then have coffee. 
  • Pack up: Fill up a large water bottle or two to bring with you while shopping, working, traveling, or visiting family.  
  • Boost the electrolytes: Add an electrolyte powder or a cup of coconut water to your bottle to keep your electrolytes balanced.
  • Refill your cocktail glass: For every cocktail you have, down a glass of water first to keep you hydrated.

6. Maintain regular movement. 

There’s a time for snuggling up on the couch with the kids for a classic Christmas flick, and there’s a time to get moving. Grab the family and go for a walk in the crisp Christmas air. Explore a Christmas tree farm. Throw the football in the backyard, or take some time away from family for a yoga class. 

Making time to stay active on a daily basis is important for your physical health, metabolism, mental energy, and emotional wellness. Keep your body moving during the holidays and you’ll feel healthier and happier throughout the month.

7. Give yourself the gift of a break. 

December is a wonderful time of year, filled with family, friends, and tasty food. This year, make it your priority to find the balance between working and resting that is best for you. 

Health is about progress, not perfection. So, allow yourself to enjoy the things you love, eat the foods you remember, and care for your body too. 

As your Christmas gift to yourself, enjoy your life, care for yourself, and continue to grow. This year, I’ll be focusing on these three goals from my kitchen. 

Don’t spend your healthy holiday alone…

Balancing a fun-filled holiday season with your health goals might sound hard at first, but if you use these seven tips, you’ll have one of your healthiest holidays yet. 

If you want to join a community of people who are on the same mission, sign up for a LEAN Session in January 2022. Until then, join our weekly newsletter for practical tips on how to stay healthy and live fully in your day-to-day life.

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