Banish the holiday blow out
Aim for moderation, not deprivation, to look and feel your best
With shopping, wrapping, decorating, parties and family gatherings, the weeks leading up to the holidays can leave you exhausted and stressed out. Add to that many people feel lonely (and even depressed) during the festive season.
No wonder many of us abandon our fitness routine and hit the buffet table starting December 1. There’s a sense we’ve been good all year and deserve to treat ourselves — which often means more alcohol, festive treats, partying and lounging on the couch. Many of us resolve to get back on track in January by doubling up on gym time and veggie consumption.
According to Scott Leith, PhD, Research Psychologist and Senior Data Scientist, GoodLife Fitness, this ‘all or nothing’ approach sets us up for failure. The thought of depriving ourselves in January can put us into holiday binge overdrive as we prepare for leaner times. It’s called the ‘Last Supper’ effect.
But with a bit of planning, it’s possible to equip yourself to look and feel well during and after the holidays. Leith suggests continuing our healthy habits, but with fewer restrictions than normal. Enjoy yourself, but practice moderation (not deprivation) throughout the holiday season, so you can hit the ground running in January.
Here are some suggestions to build in exercise, self-care, and healthier food choices on a regular basis to help banish the blowout and re-enter the new year in a more manageable way.
Take care of your physical health. Seasonal activities take stamina, so get a good night’s sleep and be sure to stick to your exercise routine where possible (30 min/day). Try fitness snacking, taking 10 minutes for physical activity, several times a day.
Give yourself a mental health time out. Take 15 minutes each day just for you. Read a magazine, get a massage or just sit in a quiet room and enjoy time doing nothing.
Plan ahead for the big meals. When you know you’re going to a party, try filling up with veggies beforehand, or fit in a workout earlier in the day before a holiday feast.
Savor the holiday atmosphere (not just the food). Focus more on the decorations, the music and spending time with friends and family.
Discover new healthy options. You have extra time, use it to cook a new recipe, hit the gym with your friend, try a new fitness class. Now’s the time to slow down and enjoy how it feels to take care of yourself.
Personal trainers in your area are available throughout December (and January) to talk more about ways to make it through the festive season looking and feeling your best. They can also suggest some exercises to maximize your ‘fitness snacking’ time – short bursts of physical activity to boost your heart rate and burn calories (and stress) amidst the holiday madness.