Healthy Holiday TipsAt INSPIRED BY FITNESS, I teach that being fit and healthy is a lifestyle - a journey, not the destination. By creating and practicing daily healthy habits, making small changes that yield sustainable results and remembering to embrace the process, it makes it easier to maintain throughout the holidays. We learn that by cleaning up our diets (Diet meaning what we eat and NOT being on a diet which is a short term failure fix)  and favorite holiday dishes, stepping away from soda (especially Diet Soda!) and drinking more water to fuel our bodies with clean, healthy, real, whole foods not only helps accelerate weight loss, but improves our sleep, our skin, increases energy and makes us feel better overall! Especially with the added demands and stressors of the holiday season.

3 basic fundamentals to understand to maintain and not gain during the holidays are:

  1. We can't out-exercise a poor diet. We really are a representation of what we eat!
  2. Healthy Bellies  (Lean Mid Sections) are made in the kitchen - Abs are about 80% what we eat and 20% Exercise! So, with the holidays approaching if you've made healthy living a lifestyle and are in process of making changes (eating healthier & cleaning up your diet and prioritizing physical activity regularly). Even if you haven't, but don't want to gain even more weight over the holidays than you already have this year, then don't let the holidays scare you! You can get through the holidays without jeopardizing your health and fitness while still enjoying the festivities, parties and yes, even the food!
  3. If you're tired of starting over, then don't give up or quit during the holidays (or during other life events or challenges).

Here are  my "Top 8 To Feel Great Tips" to enjoy your holiday gatherings without jeopardizing your health, fitness and overall wellness:

1. Drink More Water - not only to help keep hydrated as not to confuse your body that it's hungry vs. hydrated, but to feel fuller and pause between courses. Be sure to drink water before a big holiday meal or party,  before dessert or the next course and in between cocktails if drinking alcohol.

2. Bring Clean - bring a healthy side dish or "clean up" the traditional dish you would normally bring to a gathering or party  so you have at least one healthy option. Everyone loves a fresh veggie plate to nosh on before dinner as well as enjoy as a veggie side vs. a butter, fat laden veggie casserole. Another favorite is mashed "potatoes" made with cauliflower instead of white potatoes or sweet potatoes. Here are a few of my super easy recipes to try:

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

Healthy Cranberry Creation

Brussels & Berries

Quinoa Power Salad

3. Be Mindful of Portions and Seconds - Just because it's Thanksgiving or Christmas and served buffet style doesn't mean you need to load it up and fill your plate - overfilling your stomach! If hosting, buy smaller 8 or 10 inch plates. When attending a party or gathering, remember that a portion is usually a handful or the size of your fist. When thinking of going for another round of seconds, drink a glass of water and visualize where exactly on your body you see that second portion going and storing!

4. See Color - If your plate of food looks mainly white and brown/tan, then that equates to high fat & calories, high sodium and low fiber and antioxidants, which equates to weight gain, fatigue and constipation.  Choose greens and colorful foods, as raw and in their natural state as possible (minus the sauce, butter, cheese and gravies).

5. Spice It Up! - Gravies, sauces and butter add tons of (often 100's) extra empty calories and sodium which cause bloating and fatigue and weight gain, while spices can add flavor while boosting metabolism and are anti-inflammatory when adding a bit of Cinnamon, Turmeric or Cayenne Red Pepper. Instead of Sugar and Salt & Pepper, I have Cinnamon (for Sweet Dishes or even Sweet Baked Potatoes)  and Cayenne Red Pepper (for anything savory) as table staples instead of Salt. If you like white mashed potatoes, forego the gravy and butter and still enjoy a serving. Or choose sweet potatoes/casserole and forego the marshmallow and butter toppings.

6. Desserts and Alcohol - the two biggest temptations for many (including myself!). Remember the 80/20 Rule  that represents living a healthy lifestyle and not dieting. It's no different during the holidays. Just because it's there, right in front of you, doesn't mean you have to eat it or drink it and No, you're NOT being rude if you don't!  If you are eating healthy and exercising/moving 80% of the week then 20% is for you to enjoy that glass of wine or beer, dessert or meal without worry. Thanksgiving is just one day and although you may have multiple gatherings to celebrate remember to break up your 20% to spread across your gatherings - eat a dessert at one gathering, but not the other, clean up your choices just as your would any other meal when choosing to eat healthy. And lastly, be mindful of drinking your calories when choosing alcoholic beverages - which in turn has a domino effect of craving saltier and sweeter foods, increasing your appetite, slowing metabolism and adding unwanted weight gain.

7. MOVE IT! - Grab a workout or lead a family walk/jog in the morning and/or after the meal. Get Up from your chair and walk around throughout the day. Go outside and play flag football, corn hole or anything that gets you moving. Do some squats, push ups or jumping jacks during commercials of the football game or movie you're watching. Get Up to Stretch and take a deep breath and remember the reason for the season - being with your family, friends and loved ones, having gratitude and showing love.

8. Take A Deep Breath, Remember What and Who Are Truly Important, Be Present, Let Go, Practice Gratitude And Take It One Bite At A Time!

With thanks and giving to you, Susan