The year may be winding down, but your social calendar is just getting revved up. From company parties and charity events to family gatherings and festivities with friends, you soon find your personal schedule teetering on that fine line between “manageable” to “mayhem.”
Before you dive into another hectic holiday season, make it a priority to take care of yourself. Here are some suggestions to help you manage what you eat, stay fit and keep focused during busy time of year.
Watch your food quantity
There are days when it seems like you’re on an eating marathon. You go from house to house, visiting people and sharing meal upon meal. Will you make it through the season in one piece, or will you explode?
Try this: If you’ve got several stops to make in a single day, try limiting yourself to one course at each place. Have an appetizer or salad at one gathering, the main course at another, and finish up with a dessert at the last place you visit. Or, mentally divide your plate into sections, with each section representing the number of places you’ll stop to visit and eat. Minimize your portions so it doesn’t exceed the allotted section at each stop.
And what if your host expects you to eat a whole meal? “Eat modest amount of the foods offered, and fill up on foods with more fiber and fewer calories,” suggests Gay Riley, MS, RD CCN, in her article, “A Survival Guide to Holiday Eating” on netnutritionist.com.
Balance your meals
When the days are crammed with things to do and events to attend, it seems like you’re always on the go. How can you continue to eat healthy when you’re constantly on the run?
Try this: Keep a small card listing the major food groups and daily recommended servings. Each time you eat, tick the items off the card. That way, you can keep track of what you’re eating and make sure you’re eating right.
Indulge in moderation
It all starts so innocently—a co-worker is trying out a new recipe, so she brings in a plate of homemade gingerbread cookies to work. Next thing you know, everyone’s bringing in treats, and the whole office looks and smells like a bakery. Who are you to refuse anyone’s fine baking efforts?
Try this: It’s okay to sample some treats, but keep it in moderation. Keep a knife and plastic container on hand and practice portion control. Cut off just enough for a taste, and share the rest with a friend or save it for another day.
Keep fit with substitute workouts
With so much jammed into your schedule, it’s easy to let a workout slide. After all, running around from one place to another is exercise, right?
Try this: Just because you’re not working out at the gym doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. So you have to hit the mall and do some holiday shopping? Substitute your power walk with a brisk walk around the mall instead. In the article “The Healthy Holiday Shopping Workout,” on abcnews.go.com, medical exercise specialist Ralf Hennig offers these additional tips. He suggests using the time spent waiting in line at the store or waiting for an open parking space to tighten your abs and glutes for three sets. If you’re reaching for items located on low shelves, you can also use this time to squeeze a few squats in. And when you start accumulating those shopping bags, do arm curls as you carry them from store to store.
Listen to your body
Your list of things to do just keeps getting longer this time of year. But as you push yourself to work overtime, it’s becoming harder to keep your energy level up. How can you avoid overdoing it, when there’s still so much to do?
Try this: Make sure you have a few moments each day to focus on yourself. Taking time out of the day for you can keep you feeling refreshed, which ultimately helps you accomplish more of the tasks you need to do.
“The common issues that crop up around the holidays are stress, fatigue and anxiety,” says Christopher Colenda, MD, MPH, in the article “Holiday Health/Safety Tips” on medicalnewstoday.com. To manage stress over the holidays, he suggests setting limits on expectations and remembering you do not have to be everything to everybody. Just keep your routine stable and continue to exercise and eat right.
Finally, don’t forget to give your body time to renew. Be sure you get enough sleep every night. It keeps your stress level in check and helps you restore your energy for a new day. Taking the time to take care of yourself can help you make the most of the holiday season.