MYZONE: Planning for Healthy Holidays

Have you completed all of your holiday planning yet?!?  Sometimes the logistics of the holidays can be overwhelming.  There are so many different factors to plan – gifts, gatherings, travel, food, family, friends…and those are just a few!

This blog post is dedicated to helping you plan for a healthy and happy holiday season!  We’re going to share tips to assist you in enjoying the holiday season and staying healthy while doing so!

First, let’s start with what it means to have a healthy holiday season.  So often, we hear folks talking about how stressed out they are during the holidays, and how they do not have enough time to exercise or eat healthfully.  This is understandable as schedules and time and energy demands are often jam packed during this time.  However, we are at risk of losing sight of the meaning of the holiday season if we get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle and spend our time guilt-tripping about exercise and nutrition.  The holidays are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.  This is a time to enjoy and savor – family, friends, and food. 

Although navigating a healthy holiday season is complex, we are going to break it down into one easy to follow strategy:  Focus on the ENJOYMENT Factor! We hope this strategy helps you find yourself relaxed and refreshed coming out of the holiday season rather than stressed and exhausted.

Enjoy the season

Focus on the ENJOYMENT Factor – Celebrate the Season

As you approach festivities with family and friends, focus your energy on ENJOYING yourself and your loved ones.  You might not be able to keep all of your same exercise and nutrition routines, and this is ok.  It is good for us to have a break in routine once in a while so that we can appreciate our routine when we return to it.

Here are a few tips to help you ENJOY:

Keep it in perspective: 

Set the intention to enjoy and celebrate the holidays with your loved ones.  When stress or pressure starts to hit, take a deep breath and re-focus.  We suggest setting several goals for the holiday season.  Some of those goals can be nutrition or movement goals.  Other goals can be specifically about how or with whom you are going to enjoy the holidays.  An example of a nutrition goal during the holidays might be to enjoy or savor one dessert item per festivity you attend.  The intent of this type of goal is to facilitate enjoyment and encourage moderation – rather than making dessert items “off-limits”, you are limiting your consumption with the intent to enjoy (rather than feel guilty or overindulge).  A sample movement goal could be to earn a certain number of MEPs between December 15th and January 1st.  Make the target MEP goal realistic given your holiday plans – challenging, but do-able.

Focus on MaintenanceFocus on maintenance:

The holidays are not a time to try to lose weight or shatter fitness goals.  Unless you are training for a specific competition or performance, it is better to focus on maintaining your weight and the fitness you have worked hard to build.  Setting realistic expectations allows us to feel empowered and less stressed.  Go into the holiday season with a tentative game plan of when you are going to work out, what you are going to do for your workout, and how you want to feel during and after your workout.  Remain flexible and open to changes in your routine as inevitably, your plans will get re-routed.   

Healthy eating tips:

Healthy eating can be a challenge during a season that is full of abundant choices!  Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind as you ENJOY all of the wonderful food choices available to you:

Tune in to your body’s signals:  Take your time when enjoying food and beverage.  Savor the flavors and allow yourself to experience your food.  Be mindful of your body letting your know what types of food it would like to take in and when it is full.

Make your plate colorful:  Choose a variety of foods that have natural color variation (not the fun artificial colors).  This will naturally lend to a selection of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein.

Negotiate your consumption:  Plan ahead for how you might like to consume your calories at different events.  If you know that you are going to enjoy a glass or two of wine or some egg nog, then limit your dessert consumption to half of a serving.  If you know you won’t be able to pass up having two of Aunt Carol’s deviled eggs, then only take a spoonful of Uncle Jim’s creamy cheesy potatoes.  You get the idea.  Make it a game!

Limit grazing:  In many festive situations, there is buffet-style food or an overflow of food in the kitchen.  The temptation is to graze from these options before or after a meal.  To avoid overconsuming, find an enjoyable distraction away from the food – a conversation with a friend or family member, a walk outside, a game.  Sometimes creating distance is the best solution.

Aim for balance:  Similar to the point above about making your plate colorful, target a balanced consumption of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  You can do this by looking at your plate.  Carbohydrates should be the largest portion of your plate, followed by protein, and then fat.  Following the colorful plate tip will also help you get a variety of fruits and veggies (which contain carbohydrates, protein, and fat).  Remember to aim for whole grains for carbohydrates, lean meats or plant-based sources for protein, and fat sources rich in omega 3 and omega 6 (coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed, avocado, fish).

Just Keep Moving

Just keep moving:

If you are not able to maintain your workout routine during the holiday season, all is not lost.  Take advantage of any opportunity you can to do a little extra movement.  Park further away from the entrance to buildings or shopping centers.  Take the stairs rather than the escalator or elevator.  Go for a walk before or after meals.  The activity we participate in throughout the day can play a large role in our metabolism.  Reference our previous blog about NEAT for more information.

NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis refers to the metabolic activity of your body during non-exercise portions of your day (which for most of us, comprises the majority of our day).  You can significantly elevate your daily caloric expenditure by making small adjustments to your lifestyle (for example, choosing the stairs rather than the elevator).

Leverage support: 

What better time for accountability from family and friends then during the holidays!  Ask your family and friends to work with you in making healthy food choices.  Invite your family and friends to workout with you – a group walk or workout, a new exercise class at a gym where you are visiting, a speed-shopping competition (that last one could be dangerous).  You can also set up a MYZONE Challenge with your social connections via the MYZONE App!  Write comments to encourage one another to work out during the holiday season.  As mentioned previously, make the target MEP goal realistic given your holiday plans.

We wish you a very healthy and happy holiday season!!!  Keep us posted on how your healthy holidays are going!  Post to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and use the hashtags: #effortrewarded, #myzonemoves and #MYZONE.

For more tips on how to use the MYZONE® heart rate monitor, follow us during Fitness Fridays on Facebook Live (subscribe on MYZONE’s Facebook Page) – 8 am PT, 11 am ET. 

Keep moving forward!

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