The holidays are such a fun, festive, let-your-hair-down and loosen-your-belt-a-notch time of year. Let’s face it – we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays that we fall off whatever exercise and eating right regime we managed to fit in.
Now it’s January and you have the dreaded Holiday Hangover. You know the one: it’s the feeling you get after a few weeks of enjoying the Santa-shaped shortbread your Mom makes, the boxes of chocolates at Aunt Millie’s, and the-once-a-year deep fried turkey cousin Bob serves up (it’s too good not to go back for second helpings). All this overindulgence is made worse by the lack of time for exercise during the holidays.
Each January, we all vow to make a change, and start this year differently – exercise more, go to bed earlier, and eat more salad! Suddenly, the gyms are crowded, everyone is tucked in early, and the lettuce is flying off store shelves, but by March all is quiet again at the gym, people are back to burning the midnight oil and lettuce is going on sale.
The truth is the best cure for the Holiday Hangover is not a New Year’s Resolution, but a Lifestyle Resolution.
The turkey and trimmings are a wonderful part of the holidays and some indulgence is okay if (and this is a big red IF) throughout the year, you make little decisions each day that have a big impact on your health all year long. Instead of resolving to do better this year, knowing it won’t last, make an effort to create new habits instead of temporary changes.
Start the New Year Off with a Lifestyle Resolution
The best place to start is to Be Real. You are not going to give up chocolate and french fries and live happily ever after without them, but you also know picking up an order of fries at the drive-thru twice a week is not going to make you feel better. Save the fries for a once-in-a-while treat and try putting the chocolate in the freezer (the good old out of sight, out of mind trick really does work).
Be Smart. Start looking at YOUR diet and not looking for a diet! Look at the food you eat regularly and then make small changes that will positively impact your health. Choose realistic portion sizes, cut down on seconds, fill most of your plate with fruits or vegetables, drink water instead of sugary sodas, and avoid late night snacking. Learn about the importance of key vitamins, like Omega 3’s for brain and heart health, vitamin D for strong immune system and more protein for muscle health. By adding in extra-good-for-you food, it leaves less room for the not-so-good-for-you foods.
Be Committed. No one else is going to clear time in your schedule to fit in exercise except you. If a healthier and more active you is what you want, then commit to getting to the gym 2 or 3 times a week, take the stairs whenever possible, or go for a brisk walk with kids in their stroller or wagon. If friends motivate you, enlist their help. If at home DVD’s will get your heart rate moving, invest in a few. If time is a factor, make it a family affair and write it on the family calendar in PEN.
Cure your Holiday Hangover by resolving to have a healthier lifestyle, hang on to the things that work and make you feel energized, and modify the things that don’t. Change it up, try a new food, subscribe to healthy recipes online, try a new cardio machine or create a home gym, and get to know the produce isle at the grocery store. Make it work for you, and then when you need a treat, enjoy that frozen piece of chocolate!
Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs about staying healthy and active as we age at www.myboomernutrition.com!