With all the people you have to see, things you have to do and, of course, the abundance of impressive feasts you’re sure to attend, it can be hard to give your health the attention it deserves over the holidays. Some of our favourite Canadian health and fitness bloggers share their top tips on how to enjoy a healthy, happy holiday season.
Maintain fitness and nutrition outside holiday events
There’s bound to be plenty of holiday events with loads of treats and goodies over the coming days. But there are also likely going to be plenty of times when you can strive to keep up your usual healthy lifestyle. Founder of Eat Life Balance, Julie Pecarski, shares how she achieves that healthy balance throughout the holiday season.
“My key to a happy and healthy holiday season is to still maintain my health and fitness lifestyle but work it around my holiday obligations! The key to optimal health is building a lifestyle that supports your wellness goals. For example, for me, if I have holiday party to attend, I make sure I schedule my workouts around the event — especially the day of. I’ll not only feel strong and healthy, but I may be less inclined to overindulge. I also make sure that my meals leading up to the event are lean, green and nutritious. A big salad, a low-sodium stir-fry or a vibrant soup all loaded with dark, leafy greens, lean proteins and fibre-rich carbohydrates provide you with enzyme-rich nutrients that make you feel awesome! You should indulge a little — you deserve it!” — Julie Pecarski
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Make exercise a part of your schedule
As a teacher of Zumba, yoga and aqua fitness, Suzi Fevens of Confessions of a Fitness Instructor knows there are all kinds of ways to stay fit throughout the year. Here, she shares her thoughts on just how important and doable it is to fit in some form of exercise over the holidays.
“The holidays are my favourite time of year! I love all of the decorations, Christmas treats and time with friends and family. But they can also be really tiresome and stressful. My best tip for staying active and stress-free during the busy Christmas season is to not stray too far from your regular schedule. It’s fine to take a day or two off from exercise, but make sure you get back at it the next day. Even if you swap your usual run or fitness class with a walk with your family to enjoy Christmas lights or building snowmen with your kids, movement is movement! And as an added bonus, even 20 minutes of light activity can help de-stress and re-energize you, and you’ll feel so much better!” — Suzi Fevens
Keep nutritious options on hand
For runner and group exercise instructor Angela Simpson of Eat Spin Run Repeat, a little bit of planning ahead and focusing on nutritious foods can go a long way. And, of course, never forgetting what the holidays are really about — family and friends!
“My secret for healthy eating over the holidays is to always have nutritious options available. It’s a special time, so no one wants to feel deprived of the treats they only enjoy once a year. However, adding healthier foods to your plate before the treats will help you to feel more satisfied, leaving less room in your stomach and decreasing your desire to overindulge in less nutrient-dense dishes. For example, you could put a veggie tray and whole-grain crackers with hummus out amongst your appetizers, ensure you’ve got some vegetable options on the dinner table (roasted veggies are my favourite!) and add a bowl of clementines or a fruit platter to your dessert table. Of course, don’t forget that the holidays are a time to celebrate our friends and families too. Focus on the conversation first, and you’ll be less likely to feel like you’ve overindulged when the season wraps up.” — Angela Simpson
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Get your workout in first thing
When you wake up and get all caught up in the things you want to get done that day, it’s easy to put exercise on the back burner. Then suddenly the whole day has passed, and you’re feeling stressed and sluggish because you didn’t get your workout in. Certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach Deryn Macey of Running on Real Food shares this tip for how to make sure you make room for exercise over the holidays.
“My number one tip for a healthy holiday season is to enjoy plenty of daily exercise. Try an early-morning yoga class and a long walk in the afternoon, or hit the treadmill first thing, and add in a late-afternoon strength-training circuit. The point is to move as much as you can. Even if it’s just 15 minutes at a time, it makes a world of difference! It will burn off any holiday indulgences, help you de-stress and generally improve your mood. Try getting the whole family involved; winter activities like skating, snowshoeing and sledding are all great options! Plus, when you start the day with a good workout, you’re more likely to stick to healthy choices throughout the day. I also like to keep a bottle of lemon water with me at all times. Proper hydration and daily exercise will help you enjoy a healthy holiday season, prevent weight gain and ensure you enter the new year feeling great!” — Deryn Macey
Plan your portions to stay accountable
Worried about how you’ll keep from overindulging on all the incredible treats that are sure to be on offer at the holiday parties you attend? Holistic nutritionist and registered massage therapist Christal Sczebel of Nutritionist in the Kitch shares her wisdom on how to stay accountable in the face of so many tempting goodies.
“It’s an inevitable fact that every holiday gathering you go to or you host yourself will have a smorgasbord of food this season! It definitely gets more difficult to stay accountable when you have delicious goodies on every table at every party. One of my favourite tricks to make sure I don’t completely overindulge at holiday gatherings and end up feeling the need to loosen the belt is what I like to call my ‘1-Plate Accountability Trick’!
Here’s what you do. At every typical holiday party or gathering, there are always little appetizers, tapas, treats and sweets out on platters and plates. When you grab a bite here, and a bite there, and another bite here, and there, and there, you lose track of how much you’ve eaten, and before you know it, that oh-so-uncomfortable bloat creeps in, and you haven’t even sat down for the main meal yet!
Instead of just grabbing small amounts over and over again, grab a small appetizer plate, put on it what you want or wish to try, and be accountable to this amount of food. Then, as you are mingling, slowly enjoy the little bites you’ve put on your plate. Key word here: slowly. When the plate is empty, you’re done! You will feel satisfied, have left room for dinner, and you will have known and kept track of exactly what you consumed! Accountability is key!” — Christal Sczebel
What will you be doing to ensure you have a healthy, happy holiday season? Let us know in the comment section below!