How to ACE the Holiday Season
Updated: Dec 17, 2021
Year after year the holiday season approaches and poses the same challenges. Every year you tell yourself you will make better decisions- you groan as you look at the calendar filled with holiday parties and gatherings recalling that feeling of zipping up tight pants in January. But you never change! While undoubtedly the better approach is to practice moderation- if you haven’t been successful doing that, don't set yourself up for failure! First step is the recognition, then decide if you aren’t willing to change then embrace it. ACE the holiday season with these 3 easy tips to allow you to be the “Yes man” this holiday season.
Make a list of the holiday priorities that are the most important to you. You might find that watching Love Actually and decorating the tree mean more to you than the mindless roasted nuts in your hand. If Grandmas special gravy or Aunt Betty’s Christmas pudding bring back nostalgic memories, then own it, enjoy it and don’t beat yourself up for having it! Pick out your favorite things
and use them as a reason to practice moderation for the things that don’t bring you so much pleasure. Once you’ve established the naughty nibbles you have your eyes on, write a list of all the excuses you make to avoid exercising during the Holiday season. Often just by reading these out you can spot that your reasonings are simply excuses and you can find a way to get around them. Big culprits against committing to an exercise regime: time, money, injury and motivation. Write one way you can
combat these barriers as if you were advising a friend. Count the time you spend on social media and put those minutes to movement. Walking is an underrated form of exercise, you can do anywhere, anytime (on your lunch break) and its free! Taking a 10-minute walk right after you eat 3x a day decreases insulin more effectively than medication. Struggling with a nagging injury? There are plenty of movement options that you can do that avoid any physical limitation you have- be open minded and vow to work on getting better in the new year. Finally- energy or motivation- if the long dark cold days have you feeling blah imagine you are being chased by a lion- pretty sure that will get you moving for at least a couple of sets of 10 second sprints!
There are 3 main reasons we eat: biological, social and psychological. Over the holidays the latter two often take precedence. We eat because its there, because everyone else is doing it and maybe because we associate positive memories with ritualistic items. The feeling of fullness after a big meal is associate with satisfaction and the serotonin boost stimulates relaxation. You can still get all these benefits by incorporating foods with a high nutrient density. Swap mashed potatoes for sweet potatoes and the added nutrition will leave you feeling fuller quicker and longer. Visualize 100 calories of Twix bars and potato chips- not too much volume. Now visualize 1000 calories of kale and broccoli. Your stomach is about the size of your two fists put together- which option is going to fill that belly sooner? Focus on starting meals with lean protein, veggies and you won’t have so much room for
While there are thousands of delicious recipes that could encourage an entire meal transformation to nutrient density- start with just one dish or appetizer. Try a roasted vegetable platter with hummus as an appetizer, a butternut squash cashew “cheese” baked pasta or a chocolate avocado mousse dessert.
If you already follow an exercise regime, use this time of year to try something completely different. Once your body has adapted to a certain stimulus you begin to burn less calories for the same activity. By switching things up you stimulate your neuromuscular system and increase energy expenditure at rest. Think of that exhausted feeling when you sink into your chair after a long day walking around the city- that is something your body is not adjusted to so there is a response that tuckers you out. If you did that day in and out for weeks on end it would no longer tire you out.
If you typically lift weights in a slow and controlled fashion, try lifting lighter weights but faster. If you are runner- go for a bike ride. Lift heavy? Try some functional work. If you are travelling this holiday season, try some super slow training. Take 30 seconds and perform one repetition of an exercise- this will work wonders on your stability and you won’t need much to feel a burn! Try this with a squat or pushup where you can descend, hold and ascend slowly.
Remember to ACE the holidays! it doesn’t have to be about restriction and self-control. You can still have your cake and eat it too- just choose that cake wisely and take a stroll after!