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5 Tips for Staying Healthy Through the Holidays

1. Motivational Message:  Keep a motivational message in a place where you can see it every day (such as on your bathroom mirror, a background for your phone or computer screen, or a sticky note on the dashboard of your car).  Make sure it is a message that speaks to you and that keeps you focused on maintaining your health-related goals.  Not sure how to find an inspirational quote?  Go to “Google images” and type in motivational quotes; they even have ones for the holidays when you type in “motivational quotes for the holidays.”


2. Track Those Steps:  Think you don’t have time for exercise?  When you go shopping, check to see how many steps you take around the mall and, if you have a little extra time, try to take 500 more steps before you leave the mall.  Need to go grocery shopping?  Park in a spot that is further away from the entrance to work in a few more steps (be sure to keep safety in mind if you are alone or it is dark outside).  Encourage your family to take mini-thermal walks with you after a meal or on the weekends.  Skip the elevator and take the stairs when you can.  Put on some holiday music and dance around when cooking in the kitchen or decorating the tree.  When you are watching those holiday classics on television, stand up during commercials and do some jumping jacks.  Get up 15 minutes earlier in the mornings and jump rope during that extra time.  These are just a few ideas for how to work in some extra steps that lead to movement and exercise over the holidays.  With a little creativity, you can definitely work in more steps than you thought during the holiday season.  No doubt you will smile at the end of the day when you see how many steps you have taken!


3. Plan Ahead:  Being overwhelmed can definitely diminish motivation because when you think you have too much to do, then self-care usually takes a back seat.  Plan out your week and put it on your calendar.  Schedule time for exercise, shopping, wrapping presents, cooking, and spending time with loved ones.  Think ahead about when, what and where you will be eating.  If you are dining out, review the menu and make a healthy selection to order before you go to the restaurant.  If you are eating at home, be mindful of portions and choices.  If you know that Aunt Millie is bring her supreme pecan pie to an upcoming family gathering, plan for it by counting your calories and choosing to take a smaller slice then you have in the past while mindfully enjoying this sweet treat.  Planning ahead helps you feel more in control of your choices and your time, and you will be able to make better decisions as a result of this.


4. Log Your Calories and Exercise:  Although your routine may be a little different during the holiday season, your caloric intake and your amount of movement should not vary too much.  The best way to know if you are staying on track is to maintain a log of what you eat and how much you exercise.  You can do this by using a smartphone app such as “My Fitness Pal” or “Lose It.”  Begin each day with a short-term, action-oriented goal in mind related to your health.  For example, “I will walk today since I have to go shopping, and I will be sure to record how many steps I take as a result.  At the end of the day, I will either jump rope or do some jumping jacks to get in at least 200 more steps.”  If there is a big meal planned for the day, you will want to be mindful of how much you eat and have a goal such as, “I will eat only one plate of food today at the family dinner with mostly non-starchy vegetables and a small amount of protein – and no gravy or biscuits!  I will have one small slice of Uncle Bart’s carrot cake for dessert and if anyone encourages me to eat more, I will say that I am full for now and change the subject.” 


5. Enjoy the Holidays:  Holidays are a time to be with family and loved ones, to reflect on what you have learned from the past year, to give thanks for what you have, and to make memories.  Keep focused on what truly brings happiness this season, and share that joy with others through writing cards, volunteering, donating to a charity or simply sharing a holiday smile and greeting with strangers.  By focusing on the deeper meaning of the holiday season, positive thoughts and feelings will keep you motivated on being your best self and living your life in a way that brings peace and joy not only to you personally but to those around you.