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Olympic medalist Nastia Liukin shares tips for a healthy holiday

2008 Olympic All Around Champion and 5 time Olympic medalist in gymnastics. I'm currently a student at NYU and a gymnastics analyst and Olympic correspondent for NBC Sport

The most wonderful time of the year is here! I absolutely adore the holiday season... the twinkling lights and decorations, spending time with my loved ones, and of course, the food.

But with so much celebrating, it's easy to let healthy habits fall by the wayside. Between jam-packed calendars, endless to-do lists, big holiday dinners and the treats at every turn, even the most strict among us want to let loose a little. And that's OK! You should savor the season and enjoy yourself within reason. But you also want to feel your best, so I have a few tips to help you stay on track and make this a healthy, happy holiday season.

Stay hydrated

Drinking lots of water is one of the best ways to keep your energy level up and flush out toxins. The combination of the colder, drier air outside and indoor heating can leave you (and your skin!) dehydrated. Fill up your water bottle to feel and look your best.

Make fitness festive

Even if your holiday to-do list is so long that you can't make it to the gym, it's important to keep moving, even more so when there are Christmas cookies, holiday drinks and other treats around seemingly every corner. The good news is that there are plenty of fun holiday activities that don't require you to pack a gym bag: Take advantage of the season and go ice skating! Take a walk around your town to see all the Christmas lights. Go sledding (if you have snow yet). And yes, all of that holiday shopping counts as cardio too.

De-stress and decompress

It's always important to carve out time for yourself... but with so many holiday parties, shopping lists and so much travel this time of year, that can seem like just another item on your to-do list. But you can't do it all if you don't take care of yourself! Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, taking time to exercise and taking time to do the little things that make you happy (whether it's getting a fun manicure or reading a great book or just taking a bubble bath). Personally, I love yoga too; it's a great de-stresser for me so I definitely make a point of taking regular classes. And most importantly, just breathe in and relax. The lights on your tree should be high-strung, you don't have to be.

Use smart substitutions in holiday baking

I love to cook and bake year round... and this time of year especially. That said, I like to keep things healthy where I can. There is always a way to lighten up traditional favorites. Whether it's using applesauce instead of oil in your baked goods, using whole wheat flour or using a little less sugar, you can keep your holiday baking merry... and light.

Happy holidays!

XO

NL

Image: Brian To/WENN.com
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