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Healthy-ish Tips for the Holidays. No, Really

By Laurel Adams

Merry Christmas!  So – let’s be really real for a minute or two. Really.  We all love the gifts and family get-togethers that go with the holiday season, right?  What we DON’T love is the weight gain that can happen with the late nights, traveling, sugary yummy food (OMG, pumpkin bread!!), and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite little helper (not)  – stress.
Now for the real part.  It’s on you.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  (WHAT?!??)  There really are some fairly simple ways to celebrate the holidays while maintaining your sanity – and your health.

1. BE REAL WITH YOUR BAD SELF
Don’t worry about losing weight; just focus on maintaining.  Worse case scenario, gain as little as possible.  If you gained five pounds last year, shoot for two or three this year.  See?  Easy cheesy. Don’t drive yourself crazy.  And for heaven’s sakes, you don’t have to go to every single thing you’re invited to!  A polite and sincere “no thank you” may just save what’s left of your sanity. And it’s okay!  Honest. 
2. BABY STEPS TO STAY HEALTHY
Wash your hands.  Wash your hands.  Wash your hands.  Rinse and repeat.
Carry hand sanitizer; you won’t always be close to a restroom.  Keep your hands off your face; that’s how germs get transmitted to your eyes and nose and mouth.  Eeeeww, right?
It’s all in the basics, people.
3. EXERCISE
As much as possible, maintain your fitness regime.  If you don’t have one, even if it’s a winter wonderland outside (aka frozen tundra), you can still do simple workouts at home and take the stairs instead of the elevator at the office.  Get out and walk.  Dance every chance you get (crank the tunes while you’re doing your housework – my husband just LOVES it when I sing along!)
4. DRINK IN SEMI MODERATION
I know, I know.  How dang unreasonable is THIS?!??  But – hot chocolate, eggnog, and soda have more calories than just about anything you’ll be consuming.  SO not fair but that’s how it is.  Limit yourself to one or two specialty drinks a day and drink plenty of water to curb your appetite and stay hydrated.
All that sugar and carbonation won’t quench your thirst. And speaking of drinking, now on to the ‘hard’ stuff.  You know (yes, you do) how much alcohol you can handle.  Drink too much, your blood sugar levels will go haywire, you’ll probably overeat, and – best of all – there’s that sweet, sweet hangover the following morning!  Pace yourself; you’ll appreciate it tomorrow.
5. stuffing your face.  just don’t.
Being unhealthy isn’t about one unhealthy meal. It’s about eating unhealthy meals consistently.
You’re going to overeat on occasion.  I’M going to overeat on occasion.  And, yes, BRING on the sugar!  For a little balance, consider these options:  Eat eggs and oatmeal for breakfast.  Snack on raw vegetables throughout the day.  It’s all about balancing your bad days with good days, which gives you a little wiggle (or should I say jiggle?) room.
And don’t BS yourself about what you’ve really eaten that day.  Yes, that cookie wafer counted.  So did that (oh so small) glass of wine.  I know.  It sucks.  But not being real with yourself won’t do you any favors.  You knew that.
7. SAVE CALORIES FOR THE GOOD STUFF
You can have so many calories each day without gaining weight.  That’s actually good news BECAUSE with that in mind, you should be spending your calories on desserts that actually matter to you.  Heck YES you want to save the room and calories for Grandma’s cherry pie and ignore the store bought cookies.
8. stop gobbling.  jeeeeze.
We tend to stuff our faces with holiday food instead of savoring.  Then – yup, you guessed it – we eat WAY more than we need to.  So take the time to slow down and give your stomach time to tell your brain that it’s full.  Small quantities, don’t forget fruits and veggies.  EAT SLOWLY.  
9. PREVENT OVEREATING WITH SOME SIMPLE TIPS
Before meals, drink a tall glass of water and chew some gum.  Popping a stick of gum in your mouth fifteen minutes before you hit the buffet will trick your brain into feeling satisfied so you’ll actually eat less.  Popping a mint between rounds can give you a ‘time out’ so you can figure out if you’re REALLY still hungry.  
10. HEALTHY COOKING
There are bajillions (I counted) of great lower-calorie cooking recipes and tips as well as healthy holiday recipes online.  Google, Pinterest, etc.  Experiment with making your favorite dishes a little healthier.  Be the one to bring fresh fruit/veggies to the party – trust me, you will be someone’s hero.  
11. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Don’t skip meals.  Drink plenty of water daily. If you’re coming down with something, cancel your plans and go to bed early.  If you’re experiencing mental fog or chronic pain, don’t just push through hoping it will go away.  Give yourself a break.
12. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
What’s stressing you out?  Those unmailed Christmas cards?  Psh.  Create a family newsletter and put it on Facebook.  Boom.  Done.  Your in-laws make you a little crazy?  Plan a relaxing date night with your significant other the day after.  Seriously – keep it simple.  If you can’t do anything else, take two minutes to stand alone in a room and breathe deeeeeeeply.
13. YOUR HOLIDAYS SHOULD BE ABOUT MORE THAN JUST FOOD!
The real focus of the holidays should be fun and family.  Celebrate in ways that don’t involve sugar:  trimming the tree, caroling, playing board/card games, enjoying holiday movies, taking the kids to see lights displays, and much more.
You don’t have to be eating to have a wonderful time together.
AND MOST OF ALL – HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND  BLESSED NEW YEAR!

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