Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based freelance writer and blogger. She's passionate about health, wellness and style, and you'll often find her reading self-help books in nature, catching a yoga class or writing in Toronto cafés.
With all the wine, eggnog, cookies and gingerbread houses on display over the holidays, it can be a challenge to stay on track with your fitness goals. One canapé turns into another, and soon you’re feeling sluggish and bloated despite your best efforts to keep some pep in your step for Santa.
A little indulgence over the holidays never hurt, but it’s true that keeping your health a priority in December will make your resolutions much easier to stick to in January. Staying fit is all about lifestyle choices, and yo-yo dieting is never the answer.
Instead, opt for healthy choices year-round, and allow yourself to enjoy the pleasures of the holidays in moderation. This way, you’ll be finding the sweet spot between depriving yourself and overindulging, so you can focus on what really matters to you, like quality time with family and friends.
Keep your health a focus this holiday by following these five tried-and-true tricks.
Eat a protein-rich snack before heading to any holiday get-togethers
There’s no doubt there will be plenty of tempting bites at every holiday party you hit this year, so make sure you don’t arrive starving. If you nosh on a protein-rich snack like apples and cheese or a handful of nuts beforehand, there’s less of a chance that you’ll binge on cookies and sweets once you get there.
Work out at your home
Although the hours at your gym will likely be reduced over the holidays, try not to make this an excuse to be completely inactive during the break. Even just a 15 or 20-minute workout at home is better than nothing, and you’ll reduce your risk of injury once you do kick it back into high gear in January. Try checking out Fitness Blender or Blogilates on YouTube for a quick, full-body workout you can do in your jammies.
Walk it off
When there’s snow and ice outside, you may feel your inner homebody clinging to the blankets and insisting you stay inside where it’s warm and cozy — don’t listen to her! With all the sparkling snow, ice-covered branches and crisp air, winter walks are arguably more beautiful than those of any other season. Grab some snowshoes and bundle up post-meal for a fun and painless way to burn off that turkey.
Don’t drink your calories
While one cup of eggnog or hot cocoa won’t hurt, try not to drink a whole jug of the stuff. Instead, opt for healthier options like sparkling water with lemon, spicy herbal chai tea, or even a glass or two of mulled red wine with cinnamon. This way, you’ll feel lighter and less weighed down by heavy liquid, and you’ll leave more room for dessert.
Keep stress levels at bay
Studies have shown that excess cortisol levels can lead to a larger waist circumference and a higher BMI. While the holidays can be anxiety inducing for some, try to focus on the positives this year. Breathe deeply, smile and volunteer to help others. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also be less likely to eat mindlessly or indulge on excess sweets.
Share your tried-and-try holiday fitness tips with us on social @BeMakeful