How to Enjoy the Holidays and Stay On Track


How to Enjoy the Holidays and Stay on Track | Jennifer Diaz | Photo by Kelsey Cherry

Hello Holiday season! Can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here?! Not only that, but we have just 6 weeks left in this year. Whoa. I have to admit… I’ve already been listening to Christmas music and purchasing ginger spice cookies every time I go to the grocery store. I love this time of year and can hardly wait to go pick out a Christmas tree… after figuring out where in the world we are going to put it (darn this condo life and my love for oversized furniture)!

This is such a wonderful time of year, but it can also be extremely stressful. Everyone desperately wants to stay on track with their wellness goals, but this can prove more difficult with overbooked schedules and a constant presence of delicious treats. It almost seems impossible to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain, but I’m here to tell you: You are absolutely capable of it! No, I’m not going to suggest becoming a recluse, foregoing all the parties and dinners, and sitting at home by yourself eating kale. I like kale, but that sounds miserable.

Below are my 5 tips that will help you to not just “survive” this holiday season, but to actually enjoy it and keep your health and wellness a priority at the same time!

1. Be Present.

Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, be all there. Take it all in. Give the people around you something that is a rare commodity these days: undivided attention. Listen, laugh, connect, sing, dance, and experience each and every moment. This is what makes life full and worth living. Don’t miss it!

2. Plan Ahead.

At the beginning of each week, sit down and think about the upcoming week. I’ve been doing this for the past month and I can’t tell you how much more successful my weeks have been as a result of it. Take a look at your vision statement and goals. Then, determine what is possible for you to do that week. You may not be able to workout or meal prep like you usually do, but make adjustments where you can and do what you can. This is not the time for an all or nothing mentality. Some always beats none and small wins create powerful momentum!

3. Move.

You may not be able to stick to your usual workout routine but instead of foregoing all activity, make time to do something, even if it’s quick. Beginning your day with movement is a great way to get your mind and body on the right track and set the tone for the rest of the day! Plus, one of the side effects of working out is that we actually crave/prefer healthier foods afterwards. If you live in Nashville, this is a list of upcoming races that you can sign up for. This will be our second year doing the Boulevard Bolt! It is always so motivating to be surrounded by a community that gathers together for a healthy activity and a good cause before the celebrations commence. If you can’t commit to an event and need to stay home, do a quick body-weight workout. This is one of my go-to’s: The 10 Minute Workout. It's quick and requires no equipment, so you can do it anywhere!

4. Be Aware of How You Feel.

As wonderful as this time of year can be, I understand that it's not all rainbows and butterflies. For some people this is the most difficult and/or stressful season. Before you get caught up in all the hustle and bustle, pause for a moment, take some deep breaths, and check your present emotions. Allow yourself to experience those feelings and show yourself some compassion. We are all human and we all have struggles. Then, make decisions that will benefit your overall well-being. Being conscious of how you feel can help you make healthier choices, even in the midst of tough times. I am a big fan of intuitive eating. So, before you begin to eat, ask yourself, "Why am I eating this? Am I really hungry or am I just sad/frustrated/stressed?" Food is just food. It has no moral compass. Separate your emotions from it and allow yourself to eat what you like, while slowly enjoing every bite, guilt-free! 

5. Practice Moderation.

One day is not going to make or break you. Moderation is key. It's not necessarily the meals during the events themselves that cause holiday weight gain, it's the choices you make on all the other days. Make sure your meals leading up to a party or event are full of nutrient-dense foods and that you’re staying hydrated. I always make a green smoothie the morning of Thanksgiving. That way, I know I've given my body some of the vitamins and minerals I need for the day, before I indulge. When you’re at a meal or party, only eat the foods you actually like. If you take a bite of something and don’t love it, stop eating it. Throw it away. Yes, it’s terrible that there are so many people starving in various parts of the world, and if you really want to help some of them, click here. But I can promise you, eating every crumb off your plate won’t do a thing for them. If you’re going to indulge, make sure it’s worth it! I can already tell you what I will and won't be putting on my plate for our Thanksgiving meal. For instance, I’m not really into food that looks like it’s already been digested, so I’ll be passing on most casserole dishes (except for my aunt’s sweet potato casserole… I’d eat that whole thing if other people weren’t involved). I will make sure I enjoy every bite of my indulgence so that at the end of the day when the food coma begins, I’ll be able to say, “yes, it was worth every bite.” #NoRegrets!

Let's have a very happy and healthy holiday season! What part of it are you looking forward to most?