The weather is dropping below 40, and we seem to be having more darkness than light. The shining beacon getting us through this rough transition between fall and winter is the holiday season. If your family is like mine, December means a whole month of delicious food, some of the highlights including homemade sugar cookies, pumpkin-spice cupcakes, and about twenty different kinds of pie. The temptation of sugary treats is only made worse by the cold weather, which forces us to spend more time indoors. I, myself, am extremely guilty of taking the dreaded Holiday Hiatus from working out and eating right. Every single year, without fail, I trick myself into believing absurdities such as “Christmas calories don’t count,” or “I can decorate cookies without eating them.” They count and I can’t. Here are some tips to try if you too have trouble sticking to your fitness regimen during the festive season.
Swap traditional treats for healthier alternatives:
There’s nothing worse than watching your whole family baking chocolate chip cookies together like they’re in a Pillsbury commercial while you grouchily sit on the sidelines eating a stick of celery. Don’t completely taking yourself out of food-related activities, try and make some healthier substitutions. Use whole wheat flour instead of white, and try coconut sugar instead of refined sugar. Even if you don’t have dietary restrictions, search for gluten-free and vegan recipes anyway; Google has plenty! You won’t be able to tell the difference, and eating desserts guilt-free makes them taste even sweeter!
Find other activities that don’t involve food:
Don’t make everything an eating parade. There’s something about the holiday season that just makes every single activity food-related. I try and avoid planning things like gingerbread house making or cookie decorating parties because I usually end up eating a ton of sugar I normally wouldn’t. Now, one or two of these a holiday season are definitely fine -- they’re a tradition! But go to one every single weekend and you can see how that can become a problem. Winter is full of unique activities that you can only do this time of year, try to find the ones that are more active, like ice skating, sledding, or skiing. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on the holiday with the added bonus of getting your body moving.
Plan a vacation:
Ok, so I’m not saying you have to fly yourself first class to Saint-Tropez (if you do, can I come?), but I find maintaining my fitness regimen is WAY easier when I have an event coming up that I want to look especially good for. The winter season is very forgiving fitness-wise, with its chunky sweaters and puffy overcoats. Sometimes you aren’t deliberately going against your health plan -- you just have trouble remembering without short shorts and crop tops to remind you every day. Take a couple of days off to travel somewhere warm, or plan a spa weekend with your girls somewhere closeby. All I’m saying is that it’s much easier to decline that third slice of cake today when you have to wear a bikini next week.
Don’t procrastinate your health goals:
I think the hardest part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the holiday months is that it’s the end of the year. We all feel like we’ve worked hard and deserve a break, and we totally do! But don’t fall victim to “I’ll start in the New Year” syndrome. Your body doesn’t know about winter vacation -- all that happens when you take a fitness hiatus during the break is that you start gaining weight and losing tone. Remind yourself how close spring break is, and how every year the summer sneaks up so quickly. When they inevitably come, you’ll thank yourself for staying healthy in the winter months