Strategies for a Healthier Holiday Season

Cat/Camel Stretch - This stretch will help release any tension in your upper back. On your hands and knees with your toes tucked underneath start by rounding your back with your head down. Then slowly one vertebrae at a time reverse the position to move into a full arch with your back pulling your shoulder blades together. Cory Rubin/The Signal

By Rachel Cosgrove
Signal Contributor

For your health and fitness, this time of year can be one of the worst bringing stress, overwhelm, too many commitments, no time for yourself and maybe even family drama causing you to forget to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

Forget “surviving” … let’s talk about how we can make this time of year your best time of year yet. Why not be at your best this holiday season?

Stress, not enough time, overcommitted … I hear you, and guess what? These are the exact reasons that ‘tis the season … to be about you.

Instead of letting the holidays happen to you, your waistline and your mindset, decide that you will take control starting now and follow the below strategies to finish the year feeling incredible.

“Strategy trumps willpower” is a popular saying of my good friend and celebrity trainer Valerie Waters. And this time of year, your willpower can run thin.

The first time you say, “No, thank you,” your willpower is like a full battery that starts to get drained as the holidays progress or even as the day progresses until you have none left. (Have you ever noticed you tend to give in at the end of the day?)

Instead of using your willpower to try to fight your way through “surviving,” let’s put the following two simple strategies in place to look and feel great right through the New Year.

Fact No. 1: We are surrounded by treats starting at Halloween, and it doesn’t stop right through Thanksgiving, then holiday parties, Christmas and New Year’s — followed closely by Super Bowl Sunday.

If you don’t get a strategy in place you could do a lot of damage over that three-month period.

Strategy No. 1: ‘Tis the season to indulge as long as you have a strategy.

By eating healthy 90 percent of the time, you can get away with splurging on your favorite things 10 percent of your week.

How does this work? Fuel your body throughout the day using healthy foods, including protein with fruits and vegetables, eating breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner. This keeps your blood sugar stable, and if you are eating four to five meals a day, you are having a minimum of 28 meals a week. So 10 percent of 28 means three of those meals a week you can, and absolutely should, indulge.

Plan ahead if you know you’ll be at a party to use these three splurges when you most want to.

Speaking of “what you most want,” here’s a quick exercise for you:

Make a list now of your favorite things to enjoy the holidays. What do you absolutely not want to miss out on? Is it the sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving? Is it the cookies you make with your kids?

Having drinks on New Year’s Eve?

Make your list, check it twice, and plan to be naughty guilt-free… using your splurges to really enjoy your most favorite things! You’ll probably be surprised that three splurges a week are plenty to enjoy all of your favorite things.

Fact No. 2: We are busy and stressed.

There is too much to do in too little time. Many of us are stress addicts, and especially this time of year it’s easy to get all worked up, putting our body in “survival” mode once again and sending our stress hormones sky high. The big culprit is cortisol, which can affect sleep, increase belly fat, increase cravings for sugar, decrease our immune system and cause anxiety, etc.

Strategy No. 2: Breathe!

It is time to set aside some me time, especially this time of year.

I know — you don’t have time. But you have to make time — no exceptions. For many of our clients at Results Fitness, their workout is their me time.

This past week, one of our members said: “My day has been crazy, and who knows what tonight holds, but coming in here and doing a workout resets me for the day. It’s the one constant I count on and absolutely need every day to get my mind right and take care of me. I always know coming in to workout I’ll leave here more level headed, and with energy ready to tackle anything.”

Set aside two hours a week to go to the gym or do something active for yourself. If you can’t get to the gym, take three to five minutes at the start, or end, of your day to stretch and move. Perform these simple stretches after a long day of running errands to get rid of the tension in your shoulders while stretching out your back and your legs.

Putting these simple strategies in place will set you up to be your absolute best this holiday season.

So at the holiday party, when everyone else is stressed out and overcommitted, noticing that you’re not — just say, “Thank you” and give them the strategies you have learned.

Rachel Cosgrove is the owner of Results Fitness. For help getting your holiday strategies in place, call Results Fitness for a free Strategy Session at (661) 799-7900, located at 24420 Walnut Street, Newhall. 

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