In this episode of the Summit County Healthcast I’m joined by Shelley Worley (Health Promotion Director) and SaRene Brooks (Health Educator and Registered Dietitian). We discuss the importance of finding a balance during the holiday season, especially as it relates to your diet and exercise schedule.

Key takeaways

  • Use moderation, plan ahead and enjoy what you eat.
  • Remember the goal is to MOVE and be ACTIVE. Enjoy the season, celebrate with family and friends. Find the BALANCE.
  • Plan ahead for travel — provides means to eat healthily and exercise when you reach your destination

Hardest thing about eating healthy during the holidays

  • Holiday parties
    • Eating is social and there is usually a variety of food to choose from.
    • It is important to remember that these social events are meant to be enjoyed. Don’t avoid them or feel guilty when you all the good food and desserts. The key to surviving the holiday parties is to use portion control. You can try the food at the party, just have small portions and stop when you are full. You’re your plate with fruits and vegetables. Don’t eliminate the desserts, just have a small serving and enjoy it.
  • Treats from neighbors and friends
    • These treats are on the counter where it is easy to snack on them throughout the day, even when you aren’t hungry.
    • One way to enjoy these extra treats is to put some away and limit the amount you eat each day. If they aren’t out on the counter, you will tend to eat less. It has been shown that the more available a food is, the more likely it is to be eaten. Just by having it out of sight, your intake will go down. Avoid mindlessly eating. Make a conscious effort to eat only when you are hungry and limit the portion size.
  • Busy schedule, hard to plan ahead
    • Planning ahead is one of the secrets to success with healthy eating. With all the extra distractions of the holidays, it is difficult to stay in a routine.
    • It is important to take time to write a menu and a grocery list so you will have food available to prepare for meals and snacks. If you have food at home to prepare, and you know WHAT you are going to fix, you will be more likely to eat at home and less likely to grab take-out.
  • Travelling during the holidays
    • Pack a cooler
    • Like at home, have plenty of produce available to snack on and share
    • Take time for physical activity even when you are busy or away from home

Hardest thing about getting exercise during the holidays

  • Actually, the challenge is maintaining a BALANCE during the season between clean eating, working out, and a little indulgence. You don’t want to avoid parties because you need to be at the gym.
  • Striking the balance is difficult when we are competing with so many other activities
    • Parties after work, during work, at our children’s school
    • Parties and other temptations often provide us with excuses to slack on our regular physical activity
  • Let me say here if you do not practice regular physical activity, the holiday season can be a great time to start. Don’t wait until January….take advantage of the fun holiday spirit and try some new things.

Why is it important?

  • Staying active will not only help us maintain a healthy weight but can help boost our energy levels (especially when our daily routine is out of the norm), and reduce stress and tension…and there is plenty of this during the holiday
  • Also, if we are not careful, we can create a bad habit is difficult to break in January.

5 tips anyone can use to keep weight gain to a minimum during the holidays.

  1. Enjoy what you eat, eat what you enjoy, but eat reasonable portion sizes and pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. If you are hungry you should eat but stop as soon as you are comfortably full
  2. Take fruit or veggies to potlucks and other events during the holidays. That way you will have something healthy to choose from and others will appreciate it as well
  3. Get your sleep. There is a connection between lack of sleep and hunger. It has been shown that when people are sleep deprived, they tend to eat more, especially carbohydrates. These extra calories will be stored in the body and contribute to weight gain.
  4. Keep the fridge stocked with produce and limit the treats on the counter. Cut up an apple, peel an orange, have carrot sticks cut up and ready to eat. This will make it easier for the entire family to enjoy.
  5. Keep a balance in your schedule. Take time for yourself, be wise with your food choices, make time for physical activity but most of all enjoy the fun and good food of the holiday season.

5 tips to stay motivated through the Holidays:

  1. Schedule it
    • By scheduling your WO you are more likely to regard them as protected time and actually do them.
    • Create a backup plan for really busy days….you might need to rely on MINI Workouts:
      • These workouts are short bursts of physical activity when you have the time…it might be walking the stairs several times when you have a 15-minute break or taking a walk around the building or to the end of the
      • These mini workouts start to add up. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of physical activity each week. How you get those minutes is up to you!
  2. Put exercise first
    • The easiest way to NOT miss a workout is to do it first thing in the morning. Set your alarm 30 minutes early and get it done.
    • Guarantees that unforeseen interruptions in your day will not interfere with your exercise.
    • It will also set the tone for your day, we often make better choices throughout the day after exercising first thing in the morning.
  3. Recruit a buddy
    • Another great way to stay motivated over the holiday season is to make a PACT with a friend or a group.
    • Even if you do not work out in person, having an accountability partner will make you think twice about skipping your time being active. Take the time to encourage each other in your goals and type of activities
    • Around the holidays Social Media is bursting with workout challenges and support networks….set a challenge and enjoy it!
    • Not finding what you like? Look at apps like My Fitness Pal and Spark People, they have great ideas and can motivate you to keep track of your activity and get
  4. Take advantage of seasonal offerings
    • Often this time of year many gyms or fitness places offer special packages or reduced rates. Take advantage and try something nsnowshoeingw shoeing, skate skiing, ice fishing, maybe now is the time to learn how to swim?
    • Think FUN and VARIETY
    • Challenge yourself to try 5 new activities this month….you might find something you really like and a new found love for that particular activity!
    • Sign up for an event….seasonal run, hike, or a snowball fight.
  5. Plan ahead for travel
    • If you are spending holidays away from home or need to travel for work it is important to have a quick and easy work out in your
    • The goal is to keep you on track untick you can return to your regular
    • 3-5 exercise will do, keep it simple:
      • Create a circuit (3 times through the circuit with little rest will give you a bit of cardio along with strength and endurance training).
        1. Push up
        2. Crunches
        3. Air squats
        4. Balance movement
      • Resistance bands are great for on the road workouts, easy to pack and you can use them anywhere!

Resources discussed in this episode