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Healthy Holiday Tips

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Every Wednesday morning I lead a walking/running class at Breakaway, a program that runs out of North Langley Community Church. For this week I’ve been asked to speak for about 5 minutes to the collective group of women and give them some fun and light healthy holiday tips.

I met with my sidekicks Jessica and Sheena and we came up with 5 simple tips for staying on track during the holiday season, and they encouraged me to share them on this blog as well, so here you go (the long version)…

  1. WATER. Don’t forget to drink it. ‘Tis the season of hot drinks – and usually these drinks are full of sugar, dairy and alcohol. It feels natural and instinctive to drive through the Starbucks drive through a few extra times during the Christmas season, and to almost always have a red cup in hand while grocery shopping or running errands. I’m not against the occasional fancy Christmas drink and I’m certainly not against coffee, but I am strongly against mindless, excessive consumption. My advice is this: pay attention to how much you are consuming. Choose consciously. Enjoy every sip, but enjoy less of it. A cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning is fine, but you don’t need one every time you leave the house, or every time you sit down to relax, and you don’t need 4 glasses of wine at the Christmas party. One will do. If and when your hand feels empty (I’ve noticed that for many people, it just feels natural to be holding a drink in their hand), replace those extra drinks with WATER. Water is your friend! Try it with lemon or fruit in it. If you want something hot, try herbal tea. Keep flushing out all that extra sugar and caffeine that most people ingest during the holidays by drinking water, water, and more water.
  2. SLEEP. More than water, sleep is your best friend. It’s healing and restorative in so many ways. It’s essential for full enjoyment of the holiday season. Aim for 8-10 hours on as many nights as you possibly can. If you start to feel sickness coming on, rest and sleep as much as you can. Sleep heals. Moms with young children and those who struggle with insomnia – just do the best you can. About an hour before you want to fall asleep, turn down the lights in your home. Put away your phone and laptop, and make sure there are no lights on in your bedroom, including computers or digital clocks.
  3. JUST ONE BITE is okay. This one is something that Jessica mentioned she learned while doing her Whole30 challenge. She explained that the permission to STOP eating something if you don’t like it really made a difference. For example, if you’re at a Christmas party and you fill your plate with Christmas goodies. and then take a bite of something and don’t like it, you don’t have to finish it. For some of us, this can be revolutionary. Give it to your partner, or throw it out. Don’t finish it just for the sake of finishing it. Let it go. Eat something if you really enjoy it, and don’t eat it if you don’t enjoy it. Sounds simple, but next time you’re at a party, be mindful of what you’re tasting and see how often you eat something even if you don’t really enjoy it. It happens more often than we think!
  4. CROWD OUT. One of the first techniques I discuss with clients is the “crowding out” rule. When you fill your plate during a meal, start with the healthy options. Fill your plate with protein, vegetables and fruit FIRST. Eat what’s on your plate, and then decide if you need or want anything else. Crowd out the less healthy food with healthy food. The more you fill your stomach with nutrient dense, filling food, the less space there is for empty, useless food.
  5. MOVE. Move your body as often as you can, in as many ways as you can. Find a way that you like to move your body: dancing, running, walking, hiking, yoga, etc. The possibilities are endless. Think outside the box! Jessica and Sheena had the cute and clever idea of making up short, effective workouts to do while your Christmas baking is in the oven. A quick scan on Pinterest led to these, and there are many more ideas out there.

A favourite fun exercise that the three of us love is called the Squatty Potty. Make a pact with a couple of friends to do the Squatty Potty challenge for a full week. The challenge is to do 10 (or more!) squats every time you use the washroom. It’s silly and light hearted, but a good way to get moving. Every little bit helps!

Take care and enjoy this wonderful Christmas season with your friends and family.

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