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The holidays are fast approaching. And for many of us, this is the season not just for gifts and family get-togethers, but also for tossing our health right out the window. Between the late nights, the traveling, mounds of sugary fare, and buckets of seasonal stress, it’s really no wonder most us end up sick and several pounds heavier in the aftermath.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are lots of simple ways to celebrate the holidays to the fullest and still maintain your sanity and your health. To give you a place to start, here are 13 surefire tips to help you make it through this time of year with flying colors:
1. Be realistic with yourself
This goes for just about everything during the holidays, both mental and physical. Don’t plan to lose weight; instead plan to maintain your weight or limit your normal weight gain from five pounds to only three this year.
Setting small, attainable goals will allow you to enjoy the holidays without driving yourself crazy. This also goes for holiday scheduling. Instead of cramming in every activity, really think about your calendar and gracefully bow out of anything you’d rather not attend.
Your nerves and your family will thank you.
2. Take small measures to prevent sickness
Wash your hands. I cannot emphasize that enough since hand cleanliness is your first defense against sickness this season.
Beyond that, the little things are what will help you the most: cleaning surfaces in your kitchen (especially after cooking raw meat), carrying hand sanitizer when you travel, and remembering as much as possible to not touch your face.
It’s all in the basics, people.
3. Make time for exercise
The holidays are a busy time, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut all exercise until after the new year.
And it definitely doesn’t mean you should. Make time for simple athletic activities like skating, brisk walks, and winter sports. If you have a tight schedule, plan specific times to exercise to make sure you’ll remember.
And even if it’s a winter wonderland outside, you can still do simple core workouts at home and take the stairs instead of the elevator at the office.
4. Take it easy on the drinks
Hot chocolate, eggnog, and soda abound this time of year, but try as hard as you can to partake of holiday drinks in moderation.
Of all the things you’ll be consuming, drinks have the most calories and the most sugar too. Limit yourself to one or two specialty drinks a day and drink plenty of water to curb your appetite and stay hydrated.
All that sugar and carbonation won’t quench your thirst. And speaking of drinking . . .
5. Drink alcohol in moderation
Lots of people overdo it on the holiday cocktails, so do what you must to take it easy.
Know how much alcohol you can handle, and decide before each party how much you’re going to drink. Drinking too much will wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and also increase your chances of overeating and waking up with a hangover.
So pace yourself.
If you’re the type who doesn’t know how to stop drinking once you’ve started, it might be best to skip the champagne altogether.
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6. Balance your eating
Being unhealthy isn’t about one unhealthy meal. It’s about eating unhealthy meals consistently.
Let’s face it: you’re going to overeat on occasion and you’re going to have too much sugar now and then. So attempt to balance out the bad with the good this season.
After a huge family party, eat eggs and oatmeal for breakfast and snack on raw vegetables throughout the day. Balancing your bad days with good days will give you the wiggle room to indulge every once in a while.
It’s when you pretend the indulgence days didn’t happen that you’ll have a problem.
7. Budget your calories for the good stuff
Human beings can eat a limited number of calories each day without gaining weight.
With that in mind, you should be spending your calories on desserts that actually matter to you. Don’t waste stomach space and calorie-count on store-bought cookies or candy you don’t particularly care for.
Wouldn’t you much rather indulge in Aunt Florence’s homemade Christmas pudding? Prioritize your goodies this season and only go for the best.
8. Take time to savor
Many of us tend to stuff our faces with holiday food instead of truly enjoying what we’re eating. As a result, we end up eating much more than is necessary or wise. So take the time to slow down.
Survey your party buffet and fill your plate with smaller portions of only your favorite foods with a little room for fruits and vegetables.
Eat slow enough to savor your choices and you’ll end up eating much less in the long run.
9. Prevent overeating with some simple tips
Before each big holiday meal, drink a tall glass of water and chew some gum.
Popping a stick of gum in your mouth fifteen minutes before you hit the buffet will trick your brain into feeling satisfied so you’ll actually eat less.
Eating a mint between servings can also help since this gives your brain the time to pause and evaluate if you’re still hungry or not.
10. Try out some healthy cooking
There are plenty of calorie-cutting tips and healthy holiday recipes online.
Experiment with making your favorite dishes a little healthier so the next time you have a family gathering, you can bring something that doesn’t cash out your entire calorie budget.
You can also be the one to bring fresh fruit to the party; trust me, you won’t be the only person relieved to see it there.
11. Pay attention to your body
With everything else going on, it can be easy to forget about your body’s basic needs. Take a moment to pause now and then and make sure you’re getting what you need.
Avoid skipping meals and drink plenty of water daily. If you’re coming down with an illness, cancel your plans and go to bed early. If you’re experiencing mental fog or chronic pain, don’t just push through hoping it will go away.
Calling your doctor now to set up an appointment later will put your mind at ease and help you enjoy the holidays much better.
12. Manage your stress
It’s impossible to make healthy choices when you’re stressing out, so take steps to relax.
Know which aspects of the holiday season stress you out and how to combat those harried feelings. Are you losing sleep over those family Christmas cards you should have mailed out weeks ago? Create a family Christmas letter and post it on Facebook. Do you dread seeing your in-laws at Thanksgiving? Plan a relaxing date night with your spouse the day after.
Simplify, simplify, simplify, and if you can’t do anything else, take two minutes to stand alone in a room and breathe deeply.
13. Focus your holiday on more than just food
We all know how big of a role treats play in our holiday traditions. With all that cookie making and eggnog drinking and peanut brittle chewing, it’s no wonder we all gain weight this time of year.
But remember, the real focus of the holidays should be fun and family. So make some room for celebrations that don’t involve sugar: trimming the tree, caroling, playing board games, enjoying holiday movies, taking the kids to see lights displays, and much more.
You don’t have to be eating to have a wonderful time together.
If you’re looking for one more great way to treat your body right this season, why not try a great nutritional supplement? Protandim by LifeVantage is a supplement that can help you to fight off free radicals and keep your body functioning at an optimal level all winter long.