Tis the season for holiday gatherings, busyness and stress, which often leads to the lack of priority on our health and well-being.  Though we are still in a pandemic, holiday travel, parties and get-togethers in many cases are back this year.  Along with the holidays often comes end of year work projects, kids on holiday break and an overall change in routines which leaves little time for consistent exercise and a solid nutrition plan. 

Our society tends to have an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to exercise and nutrition.  We are either on, working out fairly hard most days of the week while eating chicken breasts and asparagus or off, and forgoing exercise and eating everything we want.  

However, consistency beats perfection.  Every time.  You will likely get more results (or at least maintain) during this time of year by being consistent.  Exercise often, make healthy choices often.  Do not strive for perfection.  Perfection is an unrealized idea. 

How about this year, instead of trying to be perfect, we just try to be consistent?  Read below on a few tips to stay consistent through this busy time of year. 

  1. Focus on maintenance.   The holidays are not the time for hard core goals.  Do not get me wrong, I always believe in working towards goals or bettering yourself, but this time of year is filled with travel, parties, different schedules and routines.  Do not set yourself up for failure.  Set yourself up for success by just trying to maintain.  Not gaining weight is an excellent goal, yet we often think goals can only consist of losing weight or bettering our performance.   Weight maintenance or keeping a consistent exercise/nutrition routine is an excellent goal during the month of December. 
  1. Do what you can with what you have.  Stuck at the in-laws for Christmas?  Take walks, play with the kids, play active games, throw in a couple of body weight workouts.  All movement counts and a 15-min walk after dinner is better than not doing anything.  Change your mindset that exercise always has to be long, formal and hard.   Exercise when you can, even if it is only for a few minutes.  
  1. Navigate the middle.  Though the holidays are filled with great food, it does not mean we have to eat everything in sight.  Can you enjoy some holiday treats while also choosing mostly healthy foods?    Food is amazing and is a part of our culture and social lives.  We do not want to try to white knuckle our way through meals by only choosing the most healthy foods.  On the other hand, just because there are an abundance of goodies, we do not have to overstuff ourselves with all the sweet treats. Can you “navigate the middle?”  Can you leave a party feeling satisfied but not stuffed?    For example, fill your plate with mostly vegetables, lean protein and a moderate amount of whole grains.  Then choose a few items that are more indulgent and satisfying such as cheese, maybe a small amount of a dessert or bread etc. This does take some practice but once you have learned how to navigate the middle, eating around the holidays and at social events in general, can be much more simple and enjoyable. 
  1. Have some compassion for yourself.  The last two years have been hard.  For everyone.  Though we collectively experienced the pandemic and it affected literally everyone in the world,  each person had their own unique grief, loss, anxiety and sadness.  The last two years have been unlike anything we have ever experienced.  If you feel that you have not made the best food choices or have not been exercising consistently, acknowledge that but move on.  Do not berate or shame yourself.   Just simply move forward.    You do not have to wait until January 1st to go on a walk or to have a healthy meal.  Make healthy choices at the next opportunity.    Talk to yourself (and others) kindly.   Nourishing your body with good food and movement is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  Take care of yourself and others. 

Wishing you and yours very healthy and happy holidays!

Originally published on www.elevationcorporatehealth.com