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8 Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

December 5th, 2014 | no comments

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The holidays are a time of joy, cheer, gift giving, party dresses, and celebration after celebration. But let’s face it… holiday travel, rushing around, shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on your list, savoring the moments, family time and trying to keep off those unwanted pounds can cause added stress.

For those with health goals like weight loss and weight maintenance, the holidays can add another layer of stress as we try to strategically maneuver the endless amounts of sweets, treats and passed hors d’oeuvres. After years of yo-yo dieting, struggling with my body image and going through an injury that brought on unwanted weight gain, I’ve redefined the terms healthy and fit. No longer do these words mean “bikini ready” or “have to slim down for summer” immediately or I should just crawl into a hole for the season (cue drama queen) have power over me. I don’t live like that anymore. Now, I strive for health, well-being and balance at all times to avoid those extremities. 

I know first-hand that attempting to get through the holidays with grace and ease is a skill in it of itself. 

Dealing with my back herniation and slow recovery to trusting my body again, loving myself each step of the way, and healing from chronic pain from the inside out… I’ve had to make this meaningful shift in perspective (my life, health, happiness and well-being depend on it). Healthy is not the opposite of happy anymore. I no longer want to be “thin,” now I want to be strong (to support my back, and my lifestyle). I went from wanting to feel “good” for those short weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day to wanting to feel good (healthy, happy, calm, balance, strong) all year long. This shift in perspective rocked my world and the way I view diet and lifestyle.

I now know, without a doubt, that when I feel healthy and strong physically, I feel more calm and at ease emotionally. It is all intertwined and living this philosophy is a daily practice. It doesn’t go away, just because its the holiday season.

The holidays used to be a time that I dreaded. I would lose all control after my first glass of wine and binge and indulge until I was sick. I was so focused on food (not eating too much, hating myself when I did) that I missed out on precious moments to connect with people. Sound familiar?? 

Today, being healthy (and fit) is something that I value instead of a metric I use to reward or punish myself.

 I know first-hand that the holidays present unique challenges to stay healthy, so I’ve compiled my favorite 8 tips for staying healthy this holiday season. That way you can truly be present, enjoy the moments and reap the true gifts of the season. Let me know which one is your favorite!

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  1. Set the intention: Decide right here, right now that you want to free yourself from your negative self talk this time of year. Make a plan to ENJOY the moments and focus on being present with family and friends. 
  2. Drink lots of water: Staying well hydrated will help reduce headaches brought on by stress, keep your skin glowing, and allow for regular elimination (to get rid of those extras toxins that you indulge in at your company party). Staying well hydrated will also serve you in knowing when you are truly hungry versus thirsty and avoid over eating.
  3. Get enough sleep: This tip is probably my favorite because when our lives tend to get busier we often skimp on much needed ZzzZzzz’s. However, valuable shut-eye is NOT optional. Getting optimal sleep helps ward off stress, increase energy, rev metabolism and keep you going throughout the day. Make it a priority!
  4. Bring your own side dish: Holiday parties can be a breading ground for unhealthy food. Counteract that by bringing a healthier side dish or a “clean dessert” that way you know you will have something that you want to eat at the party. Plus, that way you can indulge in your favorites while staying balanced. 
  5. Never go to a party starving: I like to make sure I have a protein+fiber snack before I head to a holiday party/dinner like apples with almond butter, or raw carrots and hummus. This way, my blood sugar level is stabilized and I don’t walk in like a stray animal plunging for the cheese board. 
  6. Get creative with your workouts: Making sure to schedule in your “sweat sesh” is a great way to reduce stress, burn off extra energy (and the spinach artichoke dip from the night before) and keep you “regular” during this crazy time. If I don’t have time to get to my favorite yoga or spin class I will make sure to carve out 20-30 minutes at home with YouTube workouts, on the go yoga, an extra long hike or walking the dog.
  7. Indulge in your cravings: Going on a strict diet during the holidays is no fun. It is actually proven that dieters who “cheat” actually reach their weight loss goals more effectively. The holidays are about fun, family, traditions and yes, the food, so making sure you are participating and indulging in your cravings will help you make the most of the holiday without feel left-out. Just make sure to make your “non-party” meals extra colorful with lots of greens and vegetables! :)
  8. Focus on the people rather than the plates: The true meaning of the holidays is to celebrate with your loved ones. Prioritize spending your time and energy connecting with the people rather than stressing about what is on your plate. When you focus on connections and conversations you’re able to truly enjoy and be present in the moment, the greatest gift of all.

 Which tip resonated with you the most? Do you have another tip that you love?  

Tell me in the comments below. 

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DeAnna Lynn Englezos is a Brooklyn-based Certified Holistic Health and Lifestyle Coach. Her core mission is to share accessible information on health and happiness that actually works and healthy recipes that taste great. DeAnna is the proud owner of an adorable rescue pup named Harlow and posts pictures of her often.
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