The holidays are here, and that can big changes to your typical routine. While it’s nice to get some time off from school, work and your typical fitness and sports training, you still need to prioritize your health. Staying active, hydrated and nourished are all important as you move through the holiday season. Here are some healthy habits to keep at the top of your priority list, and some ideas and tips to put them into practice.
Though you might have time off from sports, and may not have time to do your typical fitness routine, it’s still important to move your body! That means, finding ways to stay active over the holiday season.
One way to use the time away from school, work and sports to try a new activity. Look in your community for specialty fitness studios, like those that offer spin classes, yoga, Pilates or Barre. Pop in for a class as a way to try something new while staying active. You might discover that you really enjoy the new activity and want to keep it up after the holidays.
If you’re stretched for time and can’t make it to the gym, use an area of your house to do at-home workouts. As a reminder to fit in fitness, make sure the area is visible and not necessarily tucked away in your basement.
Another idea is to take advantage of fun seasonal activities to maintain movement. Try skiing, ice skating, sledding or running on the trails with some snow shoes. You could also sign up for a community holiday 5k fun run., like the Jingle Bell Run, A Christmas Story 5k, Holiday Lights Charity Run or another one unique to your town. Trying new activities works different muscle groups while keeping fitness fun and motivating.
When you finish your workout, make sure to have a nutritious meal or snack that contains a wide variety of nutrients to refuel your body and your muscles. For something quick and easy, try this creamy coffee protein smoothie!
Healthy Hydration Habits
As a sports dietitian, I work with athletes and active people, so I’m always stressing the importance of healthy hydration habits. That’s because, even mild dehydration can negatively impact your mood, focus and how you feel. Though you may be out of your typical routine over the holidays, focusing on your fluid should still be a priority.
To maintain this healthy habit, start drinking first thing in the morning. Fill up a water bottle and carry it with you everywhere you go. Take 4-5 gulps every 15 minutes or so throughout the entire day. In addition to sipping fluids throughout the day, be sure to include a beverage like milk – white or chocolate milk, juice, tea or other favorite drink at meals and snacks. Even smoothies and yogurt beverages count toward meeting your fluid requirements.
Hydrating foods, like fruits, vegetables, pudding yogurt, soups and stews also contribute to your daily fluid intake. Be sure to include a few options at your meals and snacks, as part of your daily eating plan. You can eat them whole or add them to other foods like smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt and omelets.
One of my personal favorite fluids to enjoy during the colder months is homemade hot cocoa. Top it with some whipped topping and red and green sprinkles for a festive treat.
Maintain Adequate Nutrition Intake
Between holiday shopping, parties and visiting with friends & family, it can be easy to forget about your own health & nutrition. But, your nutritional intake during the holiday is critical to maintain your health and keep you are in tip-top shape for after the holidays.
To make it easy, keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with nutritious items that you can grab and eat alone, or that you can use to make a quick, nutritious snack or meal. A few of my favorite go-to foods are Greek yogurt, milk, hard-boiled eggs, ready-to-drink yogurt drinks, fresh fruits, vegetables, string cheese, whole grain crackers and items to make sandwiches.
One of my favorite quick, nutritious and delicious ways to fuel up on busy days is by making a Greek yogurt bowl. They’re great because you can customize them in a wide variety of ways with different yogurt flavors and a variety of nutritious and flavorful toppings. For a festive meal, try this gingerbread Greek yogurt bowl.
Over the holidays, sweets, treats and other foods you may not typically eat are everywhere. They may even be in your own kitchen. Enjoying those yummy holiday foods & treats are an important part of celebrating & enjoying the holidays. But, don’t go so far off your typical eating schedule that you don’t feel good. To enjoy the holiday foods while still feeling fantastic, it’s important to be mindful of what and how much you are eating.
On the day of the holiday, enjoy all of your favorites without even thinking twice about it. But, be mindful of what you eat on the days that fall before & after the holiday. One way to enjoy your favorites, without overdoing it, is to store leftovers in single-serve containers and put them out of sight. If it’s something you can freeze, even better. Then, when it’s time to eat, or you want a treat, you can grab a serving out of the freezer, heat it and eat it. Putting them away and storing foods in single-serve containers reduces the temptation of grabbing seconds or thirds and really over-doing it.
A favorite food at my house is triple chocolate chip protein pancakes. I double the recipe, then package the leftovers in single-serve containers to store in the freezer. When the kids want a quick breakfast or snack, they can just get 2 or 3 pancakes out, heat them in the microwave, and eat. You can even add some whipped topping and some colorful sprinkles for a festive holiday treat.
I hope these ideas and tips make it easier for you to maintain healthy habits over the holidays. Be sure to enjoy your friends, family and downtime from your typical busy schedule. Happy holidays!