Before I dig into this post I must point out that I’m in Boston experiencing my first snowfall in FOUR YEARS! When you’ve been living in 70-degree weather year round (poor me!), getting a little snowflake action actually feels really, really good! Meanwhile, my parents are groaning about how they need to shovel later. Such Debbie Downers.
The sparkle, the parties, the decor and delicious foods makes this a fun time of year. It also makes it equally stressful, particularly on the nutrition and exercise front. Popular magazines are churning out 100 articles a minute about healthy recipes and exercise hacks to avoid weight gain. While the articles mean well, the tips they’re jamming down our throats are useless if you don’t already have healthy habits to begin with.
In other words, why the hell are you trying to overhaul your nutrition or exercise during the toughest time of year?
This is the time of year that we must come back to our cornerstone habits and re-establish our non-negotiable rules for healthy living. These habits can be anything you want just as long as it’s sustainable for you. Here’s a sample of my top four non-negotiable strategies:
Three drink max: I like the slow and in-control approach at holiday parties, meaning I sip my cocktail slowly, down tons of water in between glasses and stop at 2-3 drinks. The extra calories, sugar and alcohol effects the quality of my sleep and productivity the next day. Given that there are so many parties this time of year, why go overboard at every one? Enjoy the company, enjoy the drink and stop before ‘enough’ becomes ‘too much.’
Be unapologetic about saying ‘no’: The practice of saying ‘no’ – and being unapologetic about it – is all about knowing yourself and your limits. I turn down invites if it interferes with something else that is important to me, such as an early morning hike with my dog, a productive afternoon, or a chance to have a meaningful experience elsewhere. It’s the art of picking and choosing. I get flack for it sometimes but I’ve never regretted turning down a ‘so-so’ experience in exchange for something that makes me feel awesome instead. If a night of Netflix with your cat is what you need after a long week, then that ugly sweater party can go on without you.
Eat breakfast: Every morning starts with a fresh plate starring a protein source, healthy fats and veggies. This usually looks like an open-faced spinach omelette with mixed bell peppers and avocados. I do this 365 days out of the year.
Move & sweat daily: The focus is to get in a solid 30-60 minutes of daily exercise no matter what (unless I’m flying cross-country for 10 hours). Unless you’re training for competitive reasons, the holiday season is not the time to set PR’s or start a strict diet. Instead, focus on getting quality movement and exercise time each day, which will help with stress management and maintaining a strong and healthy body.
Now it’s your turn. Look back at 5-10 habits you regularly practice. Which ones are non-negotiable? Pick the top 3-4 habits that you know you can stick with and make you feel at your best all the time. Those will be your go-to habits this holiday season.