By Binu Dhindsa
As a South Asian, I often get questions about whether I celebrate Christmas. The answer is yes I do. When I was growing up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, my parents wanted us to have the experience of the culture we were now surrounded by, yet still keep our Indian roots strong. My fondest memory of Christmas Day is my Aunt’s tandoori style Turkey. She would marinate the turkey with tandoori masala, accompanied by some chana masala and mashed potatoes. What a great way to bring both cultures together.
What I also learned growing up was that the holiday season came with just letting go. By this I mean we were allowed to eat more sweets and overindulge at the parties with chips and chocolate and lots of other yummy food. Even though my brothers and I were quite active as teenagers, as I got older, it was harder to keep up with the training routine and the overindulging was not helping my waistline. I would often eat out more in December, slow down my workout schedule and then pay for it in January. This is why so many people have “exercise” as a new years resolution.
Now that I am in my mid 40s, that waistline can change very quickly. So how do we manage it all this holiday season so we all don’t feel the need to do detoxes in January? It’s all the choice that you get to make for yourself.
Do we throw all the efforts we have been making over the last many months towards better eating habits and training by the wayside? Or do we embrace this season, have a plan and have the intention to arrive at January 1st feeling as alive as we are now and not up 10 pounds? I for one sure hope it’s the latter.
Here are my top 10 tips to keep you active and keep your nutrition habits in tact during the holiday season.
- Plan Your Workouts in Advance. This is an absolute must for us women on the go. We know the hours in our future days for the next month will consist of shopping or food preparation. For these reasons, having a concrete plan in your schedule is so important. Book your workouts in your calendar, first thing in the morning being the best option. This time of day is hard for other things to get in the way and once you knock it off your list you will feel great all day. All you need is 10-20 minutes each morning to get your body moving and energized.
- Maintain a Consistent Eating Schedule. Our bodies need to be eating small meals every few hours for more energy, blood sugar stability and to be able to get all the nutrients in that we need to thrive. Once the holiday season arrives, we are on the go, in malls, back and forth here and there. This is even more reason to plan your meals ahead of time and make sure to stick to the consistent schedule. Letting yourself miss some snacks or lunch will inevitably leave you binging at the end of the day.
- Give yourself permission to cheat. Yes that is right, schedule in those cheat meals. You will most likely be at more parties this December and you definitely don’t want to feel deprived. That is no fun at all. If you allow yourself some free meals once or twice a week then you will continually feel good and your mind won’t get you down about reaching for that butter tart or lemon square. Eat clean when you are on your own and give yourself permission to indulge at the parties.
- Don’t let others drag you down. It’s so true that many people give up healthy habits during the holiday season. They throw everything out the door and stop exercising and eat whatever shows up in front of them. Being mindful of what you are doing is half the battle. What if you went against the grain and kept working out and eating clean all through December. You just may inspire someone else to join you.
- It’s not about perfection. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or so of your workouts. Some days will be more stressful and you will spend more hours of your day in a car then in your cozy warm home. So if you cave and grab those chips and chocolate one night, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back up the next day and continue on with your healthy habits. One day won’t mess up your progress toward improved health and wellness.
- Start a fitness fun size quest. If you aren’t on a daily workout schedule right now, then this is the best time to start one. Think of it as a fun size quest. Small baby steps can get started now that will trickle right into the New Year. Start with 5-10 minutes each day, plan out one or two exercises you can do right out of bed. You will be amazed how a little amount of exercise can get you feeling more energized and alive within a few days. You will then crave the morning routine.
- Eat before going out. Many of us think that if we are going to a party we should just starve ourselves all day. Well in my mind quite the opposite should happen. Continuing to eat often in your day, controlling your portions, getting in more salads and water, will set you up right for heading to that party. You won’t be starving when you show up and you will be able to control those cravings when the butter tarts show up.
- Find a friend. Research shows that people working in groups are more successful with their goals. So find a friend or start a Facebook contest to get your friends exercising with you this holiday season. Keep each other motivated by posting your exercise routine on a daily basis.
- Drink a smoothie a day. Smoothies are a fabulous item to add to your daily routine, especially during the holidays. They are great on the run, great on your digestion and a great way to get fruit, protein, healthy fats and vegetables in your body all at once. Many of us struggle with getting enough vegetables into us during the holidays, so give the one green smoothie a day a try. Throw in spinach, kale or arugula to give you a great energy boost.
- Exercise on Christmas Day. Wouldn’t it just be amazing to get a hard sweaty cardio workout in on Christmas morning? You might get people looking at you funny, or maybe you might inspire someone to do the same. You know that is your free meal day; you know you will be sitting around with family members, and possibly passing around chocolate first thing in the morning. Why not start your day off with a bunch of energy and let it continue through your whole day.
More about Binu
Binu is a certified trainer and nutrition coach in Oakville, Ontario. She loves to share her exercise tips and favourite recipes on her Facebook page “ShapeYourLifewithBinu”. JOIN her on Facebook to keep yourself motivated and energized throughout December. There will be exercises posted all through December to keep you motivated with a special workout for December 25th. Binu also runs a 12 week Lifestyle Fitness and Health Program and registration is now open for January. Check out her website at www.binu.ca for more information.
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