Strategies for maintaining a healthy life through the holidays

In the northern states, leaves and temperatures are falling.  Jackets are giving way to sweaters and coats. Comfort food and casseroles take the place of healthier lighter meals. Winter holidays that celebrate excess food and drink are approaching fast. The north is preparing for winter hibernation.

It is a dangerous time for people who aim to maintain a healthy weight. Even the savviest person can be easily tripped up by family traditions and old habits. Now is the time to prepare yourself for the battles ahead. Let’s look at some strategies on maintaining your healthy life through the winter months.

  1. Rediscover the playfulness of your youth.  I could not get enough of the snow as a kid.  My neighborhood cohorts and I spent endless hours playing in the snow. In recent years, I rediscovered the joys of winter. Hikes and snowshoeing are perfect opportunities to be active while enjoying the scenery and quietness that comes with newly fallen snow.
  2. Find a workout pal. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to head out to the gym especially when the snow is flying and the temps are below freezing. Find a buddy who will be your voice of accountability. Times on the treadmill or in a fitness class pass faster when a friend is along for the ride. Strengthen that commitment by making a weekly date for a set day and time.
  3. Set an eating strategy. It is hard to pass up Aunt Helen’s pecan pie or walk past the sweet treats in the office break room. Give some thought now to the food situations that you will face. Develop a survival plan. Enjoy family traditions choosing wisely and eating smaller portions. Know the nutrition facts and ask yourself if the food item is really worth the cost of calories, fats, sugars, etc.
  4. Don’t panic over a few extra pounds. Every January, people flock to gyms, Weight Watchers and diet plans after reading the numbers on their scales. If you find yourself carrying a few extra pounds, the sensible thing is to return to healthy eating and a more active life. Do not fall for gimmicky diets or over-strenuous exercise. You will just find yourself starving with a sore body. Aim to develop a repeatable, livable diet and exercise plan for life.
  5. Keep your mind busy. Winter is the perfect time to take up a new hobby, attend a class, or accomplish a goal that you never seem to have enough time to make a priority. Pull something from your bucket list and work on it during the winter. A busy mind keeps you from overeating and being a lump on the sofa. It gives you a positive attitude and outlook that makes you eat better and be more active.
  6. Rely on friends and family. Happiness is a key component to being a healthy person. Use your free time to increase your social circle, renew old friendships and grow closer to your family. Don’t let the snow and ice keep you captive. Bowling, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating are fun ways to embrace winter, be happy and maintain a happy healthy attitude.
  7. Face up to negative interactions. – Unfortunately, some family and friend interactions are not so happy. This rings true at holiday gatherings and parties. Avoid these interactions or minimize the time spent at them. Give some thought now on how you can turn the negative experience into a positive one. Keep emotional eating at bay by maintaining a positive altitude, smiling and taking the high road when an unpleasant situation presents itself.
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