For many, the holiday season is the toughest time of the year to start or keep a healthy routine. The days are shorter, nobody wants to go out in the cold, and there are countless temptations at holiday parties. However, going into the season with the information, tools, and know-how to stay fit and healthy gives you the best leverage. There are a number of perks to the season when it comes to holistic health. Here’s how you can counteract the negative side effects that tend to creep up this time of year:
Optimize healthy seasonal goodies
Pumpkins pie might be a mainstay of the holiday season, but who says it has to be laden with sugar? Pumpkin itself, even the canned and pureed variety, is low-calorie, healthy, delicious and filling. Traditional pumpkin spice is zero-calorie and full of goodness (cinnamon is a natural diabetes fighter). Make your own pumpkin pie with a natural sweetener like Stevia, and if low-carb is your approach, you can skip the crust or make one out of crushed nuts.
This is just one way to turn seasonal treats on their head. Get creative—cranberries, a variety of meats like turkey, and a twist on green bean casserole can all be part of a healthy diet.
Try a new indoor fitness option
The holiday season can be especially difficult to keep up with your exercise routine if you normally love outdoor running or cycling. Check out one of the classes at the gym or try out a winter sport like skiing that you’ve never dabbled with before. Letting the seasons partially dictate your fitness approach keeps your body guessing and helps fight boredom.
Be honest with your alcohol intake, choose beverages wisely, and drink in moderation
Even for someone who isn’t at risk of alcoholism, too much alcohol is never good for you. It’s full of empty calories, and cocktails are the worst. Holiday cocktails can really pack a caloric punch, from real eggnog to whatever your local mixologists have dreamt up.
If you do imbibe, stick to no more than three drinks per party. If you’re counting calories, remember that clear liquor is usually zero carb, almost no sugars, and can be mixed with diet sodas or juices if you don’t care for the natural flavor.
Get your vitamin D in check
For those who live in a cloudy and rainy area, the winter months can lead to vitamin D deficiency. Instead of heading to a tanning bed (where the risk of skin cancer isn’t worth the vitamin D fix), ask your physician for a full panel deficiency screening. If you’re lacking vitamin D or anything else, a natural supplement can give you a healthy boost back to normality. Vitamin D is essential for fighting fatigue and the general blues.
Prioritize seeing loved ones
It’s easy to make excuses during the winter months, and everybody else is doing the same thing. However, not regularly seeing friends and family is harmful to emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Brave the cold, or take turns having guests at each others’ houses. Offer to get together for non-food or -drink related activities. Get creative, and give your social life a boost to reap countless health benefits.
Get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions
Why wait until January to start bettering your life? The majority of resolutions are health-based, and you can get some great deals on everything from personal training to Crossfit classes during the holiday months. Use the last of 2017 to sample fitness options so that by January first you have a head start and know exactly which direction to head.
Get familiar with the gym’s sauna
Sauna’s, whether wet or dry, have a long history of detoxifying benefits. It’s the perfect place to warm up and gives you extra motivation to head to the gym. Just remember that dry saunas can be very damaging on the hair, so mist it and apply a leave-in conditioner before entering so your locks are safe.
Fitness during the holidays can be challenging, but with a plan of action, you can start the new year healthier than you are right now. Consider that Halloween binge the last slip of the year, and get started on a track to a healthier you.