1. Don’t be afraid to be that person who brings the vegetable tray to the holiday party. You will probably be surprised to see that it is the first thing to go. Others will secretly be thanking you for bringing a healthy option and giving them the extra encouragement to keep up with their own health goals.
2. Look for ingredient replacements. The holidays are the perfect time to indulge, but you also don’t want to be guilt ridden by your poor eating choices and end up feel slow and sluggish because you were able to justify three slice of pie on account of it being a special occasion. Look for simple recipe adjustments you can make to cut fat calories and increase nutritional value. For example, I make a killer sweet potato brownie that a lot of my friends enjoy far more than the traditional sugary recipe.
3. Watch the alcohol intake. When it comes to calories, you can’t have it all. If you are planning on knocking back a few, remember that beer and cookies don’t have the same effect as eating your Wheaties. The more alcohol you are planning on consuming, the more conscious you should be about your food choices. If you are going to overdo it, try and limit your indulgences to one area. It is all to easy to forget that liquids have calories too. Not to rain on your holiday parade, but here are some drink calorie counts to help put things into perspective:
4. Take the stairs – a few times. If cold winter weather has you avoiding the outdoors or even the short walk to your car to get to the gym, one of the best cardio and leg workouts you can treat yourself to is to tackle the stairs of your home or apartment building. If you are a baby boomer with limited mobility, be sure to use the handrails for balance and take it slow. Even just a few trips can get your heart rate up, jumpstart your metabolism, burn some calories, and release some of those all-important endorphins. Plus, you won’t have to put on your snow boots just to get some cardio.
5. Plan ahead. Whether it is writing down your workout schedule for the week, or pre-preparing some healthy meals for your holiday travels, a little bit of planning can go a long way in keeping you motivated. It is all too easy to grab the nearest cookie from the buffet table or stay glued to the couch if you don’t have something a plan already in place.
6. Remind yourself why you eat healthy and exercise. Yes, there is that whole “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips” thing, but what about longer term goals? Remember that the benefits of health go far beyond a slimmer waistline and increased energy.
Just take a look at the latest study from the British Medical Journal. They studied a group of participants with an average age of 64 and found that “four years of sustained regular physical activity boosted the likelihood of healthy ageing seven-fold compared with consistent inactivity.”[i] The researchers defined healthy aging as more than just physical fitness, but also cognitive abilities, and strong social connections.
Those who did not remain active were depressed, disabled, and cognitively impaired.
[i] “Regular physical activity in later life boosts likelihood of ‘healthy aging’ up to sevenfold.’” British Medical Journal, 25 November 2013. Web. 5 December 2013.