Monday, November 28, 2011

5 Strategies for Holiday Health & Fitness

I must say that I enjoyed my Thanksgiving holiday weekend! We actually hosted our family dinner (20 adults and 6 kids) on Wednesday this year - which meant that I also enjoyed a second dinner at my sister-in-law's house on Thursday. Then came Black Friday shopping, leftovers, lazy time and rainy weather. While I was all very nice, it's time to be realistic and assess the damage. The things I always find challenging are:

    • Rich Food
    • Less Water
    • Sporadic Sleep
    • No deliberate exercise
    • High stress

Did you encounter any of these this week? I did! It's really all about strategy. Some things can be avoided, and other things just need to be approached a little smarter. Think about it as a game! Let's go back through each one and talk about strategy. These strategies can apply to pretty much any holiday that involves a special meal or party.

1. Food strategy
Here's the key: eat squeaky clean the entire week, and the day of your holiday event. Then when the time comes for the meal or party, use it as a cheat/treat/splurge (whatever you call it) for that week. I generally think that trying to make traditional holiday foods low fat, low sugar, low sodium just ends up making them tasteless. The food detour might just be a positive jolt for your mind and body. Enjoy the best things to eat. Concentrate on those that are unique to the holiday, that you don't get other times of the year. Don't waste your calories on common foods you can get any time. If you're celebrating during the day, about 3 hours after your meal/party, eat a small super healthy snack to reset your mind and body.

2. Water Strategy
Go into the holiday fully hydrated. You most likely will be drinking other stuff, but if you go into it well hydrated you won't be as thirsty for some of the other things. Also, don't drink things just because they are there. Decide what you really love. If you're going to drink some calories, don't waste it on anything that's not your favorite. Again, be choosy, and focus on the unique drinks for the holiday. Drink a big glass of water before your meal or party.

3. Sleep Strategy
Go into the holiday rested. Do whatever it takes to get a full 8 hours of sleep every night leading up to the event. Take a nap the day of if you know you're going to be up late. Be organized enough that you don't have to sacrifice sleep. It's not worth it, and it make take some pre-planning or starting your holiday prep much earlier than you are used to. When you feel tired, rest. Use the time for active recovery (doing fun stuff) and getting in extra down time such as naps and meditation. Your body will thank you. It's supposed to be a holiday, remember?

4. Exercise strategy
You just have to schedule it. Make sure you stay on track with your exercise right up until the event. If you can, get your workout in the day of before you go to your dinner or party. Wrestling a 22 pound turkey into the oven, miles walked during a shopping spree and hours on your feet may not cut it. The next day, or the next few days, you'll have extra calories on board. Take advantage of it! You'll be surprised how strong you might feel at the gym, because usually those calories are extra carbs. Hit it hard and with intensity. Get in a walk after dinner and every chance you get. Run and play with the kids, do some stair sprints, burpees in the living room, anything you can to keep moving.

5. High stress
Be with people you love. Get some time away from those who drive you nuts. Have some time each day set aside to be quiet and still. Protect your mind from negative thoughts. Ask youself, "what is this in light of eternity?" and keep things in perspective. Avoid that family debate that makes you raging mad, or the toxic people. If you can't get it all done, let it go!!

We have about 5 weeks before the new year. Don't just throw in the towel now! Those are 5 weeks that you can be productive in your health and fitness goals. Why not start the new year with a leg up? You can do it!

No comments: