The holidays mean all sorts of things: a time to reflect on the year, a chance to unwind with friends and family, and an all-you-can-eat buffet of food and drink to wreak havoc on any attempt to stick to a healthy diet. From company holiday parties to holiday happy hours to family get-togethers, sometimes it feels like the snacks never stop and the eggnog is bottomless. So, how do you make it through this month without throwing away all of the health and fitness you've worked so hard for this year? Here are some simple tips to make your holidays happy AND healthy this year.
Keep Yourself Happy!
For many of us, eating healthy boils down to a battle of willpower. Day in and day out, it can feel like a constant battle to choose a salad over a hamburger for lunch, skip dessert, or forego that refreshing beer after work. While getting in the habit of making healthy choices is important, it's equally important to recognize the power of decision fatigue. The best way to understand decision fatigue is to recognize that the brain, and specifically the willpower part of the brain, is a muscle. The more we work out this muscle, the stronger it gets -- just like any other muscle in the body. But also like the rest of our muscles, the brain can become physically fatigued and unable to perform without proper recovery.
We all know that recovery is how our muscles strengthen after a hard workout, so how do you give your brain a chance to recover during a season where temptation lies around every corner? Let yourself have fun! Plan meals, events, or even a whole day where you give yourself permission to eat, drink, and be merry. Don't think of this as a "cheat" day -- you're not cheating on anything, you're allowing yourself to enjoy the foods you want to enjoy as part of a complete, healthy life. One day of healthy eating won't make you suddenly fit; one day of letting yourself relax won't make you suddenly unfit. If you build in these times where you know your brain can take a break from constantly having to choose between healthy and unhealthy options, it will be easier to stay on track long-term.
Keep Yourself Accountable!
"But wait," you might be saying, "if I just eat and drink to my heart's content, won't this still undo my health and fitness from the year?!" In a word, YES! This is where the idea of balance becomes important. Just like you plan events or days to let your brain relax and not worry so much about food choices, make sure to keep that willpower muscle flexing by planning days to be more mindful. A good rule is that for every meal or day of indulging, make sure to have two meals or days where you make sure to focus on your fruits, veggies, macros, and micros. This way, you'll be able to feel good about the less-healthy times, knowing your body is still getting its nutritional needs met and is still staying in balance.
Keep Yourself Moving!
The last, most important part of keeping your balance this holiday season is to keep moving! Between relaxing get-togethers and cold/rainy/snowy/dark/less-than-ideal conditions outside, it can be more of a struggle to find the motivation to get up and get out during the winter months. But, do not despair! This is a great time to work in other ways of getting your body moving. Whether you're getting a killer workout from a nice family walk after dinner or finding other ways like parking a little farther from your destination and taking the stairs, keeping yourself moving doesn't mean you have to block off hours to exercise instead of being with family and friends. If you keep moving during the holidays, your body will be that much better fueled and primed to hit the ground running when the holidays are over!
Now that you have a plan to keep in top form no matter what the holidays throw your way, join us to get back to your peak in the new year! Click here today to learn more about how you can get 1 month of FREE top-quality IBX workouts to jump-start your health and fitness for 2022. Have a warm, happy, and safe holiday season, and we can't wait to see you soon!