imageFrom Halloween until January 1 we officially enter into Holiday Season. This season may mean different things to different people, but from my perspective it tends to mean people excuse themselves from commonly practiced health habits. They may start magically gravitating towards processed foods like grabbing a few M&Ms from a coworker’s candy jar (every time you walk by it), munching on the cookies (supposedly) baked for the holiday party, or even sneaking into the leftover chocolate from Halloween! Additionally, travel plans, eating out more often, and multiple holiday parties only compound the poor eating issue.

Exercise likely gets thrown out the window due to [insert excuse here]… travel plans, in-laws in town, or just too busy and stressed out to carve out 30-minutes for the gym. The weather is colder and it is certainly dark out earlier so that after work walk is now non-existent. If some of these behaviors ring a bell for you, then I encourage you to read on to my Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Season Sabotage.

1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind:

While this may sound harsh, I truly believe in this motto. You need to create an environment that prompts you to make the right decisions. The main difference between holiday season and the rest of the months are the excessive exposure and therefore accessibility to treats and indulgence foods. Whenever an environment is within your control, Healthify it! Put almonds in the M&M bowl. Donate the Halloween candy to the food bank. Pack a healthy lunch during catered work events. If you don’t see the food you will be less likely to give in to the temptation. If you can’t access the food you will be less likely to give in!

2. Holi-day not Holi-week or Holi-month:

Okay so if you MUST indulge in Aunt Judy’s apple crisp she makes from scratch every year for Thanksgiving then fine, I get it, I may even have some myself! But, practice damage control by only allowing the holiDAY for treats and then pick up your health habits after the day is over. Don’t let a holiday turn into a full week, month, or season. Stop the spiraling effect by using this mentality.

3. Exercise In the AM:

One thing we all get to control, to some extent, is our morning routine. Some people choose to wake up 5-minutes before they leave for work while others like at least 2-hours to prepare for the day ahead. Carve out your morning for a successful day!  By adding in at least 15-minutes of exercise in the morning you can easily check this off your to-do list before the excuses start piling on as the day progresses. If you end up coming home and you are able to incorporate more exercise, then great, that is extra credit, but at least you have completed your 15-minutes.
What can you do in 15-minutes? Plenty!
-Walk (alone, with a friend, neighbor, or family member)
-Set up circuits in your bedroom or basement
-Exercise DVDs
-Exercise Apps

4. Healthify Indulgences:

I’m a sucker for dessert! I do my best to make healthier versions of these recipes. Check out this blog post for some more ideas on how I quench my sweet tooth! Say you enjoy more savory indulgences…how can you “healthify” them this holiday season?
-Add low fat milk to replace heavy cream
-Use whole grains to replace processed grains 
-Cut the amount of cheese in half and instead add extra spices/seasonings for flavor
-Use healthier cooking techniques like baking, roasting, sautéing, grilling and broiling in place of frying
-Double the veggies that the recipe calls for

5. Stock Up on Sleep:

Lack of sleep causes a whole range of issues, which I will not dive in too deeply here, but essentially this tip will help improve your self control, cravings, and waistline in a number of ways. When you are deprived of even one-hour of sleep in a night your appetite regulating hormones, leptin and ghrelin, get out of whack. You crave more carbohydrate-rich foods and feel less satisfied with the food you consume. Also, lack of sleep increases our stress hormone, cortisol, which can cause issues with blood sugar metabolism. And to top it all off, all that hard work you put into exercise will not be as beneficial with lack of sleep due to the reduction in “repair and rebuild” mechanisms occurring through the night. Get 7-9 hours of sleep, especially through the cold, dark winter months. This is my favorite of all the tips…and the most fun!

Stay healthy this holiday season and if you need more support you can always reach me!