Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 Ways Holidays at Home Can Hurt Your Health—and What To Do About It

Holidays can hurt your health with overeating and lack of exercise
Try to stay healthy during the holidays by eating in moderation and keeping up an exercise routine--even if it's light.
Image: Shutterstock
Copious amounts of home cooked food, an endless supply of alcohol, and all of your relatives together in one room might sound like a great time around the holidays, but sometimes it can be a bad thing. Despite the good eats and time off from work, holidays can really take a toll on our wellbeing for a variety of reasons.

Don’t get me wrong—I love spending time with my family, and the holidays are wonderful excuse to skip town and get down to see them. But going outside of my normal routine is hard because it’s so easy to miss out on the things that normally keep me healthy—like regular exercise and portion control. Here are some things to keep in mind to maintain your good health this holiday season.
  • There are no gyms in sight. If mom’s cabin doesn’t have a treadmill, try weightless workouts to help improve balance, flexibility and core strength. Bring resistance bands, yoga DVDs and maybe a jump rope to help keep your fitness levels from dropping too sharply. I try to get exercise in first thing in the morning when on vacation, because otherwise I just get too busy doing other things. Like drinking eggnog…
  • Every holiday meal is enough to feed a small village. The average American will consume over 3,000 calories at a traditional holiday dinner. It can be hard to resist the temptation of high-calorie food when it’s all sitting there on the table. Drink a lot of water, take it easy with the alcohol, and try to stock up on greens and lean proteins. Of course, it is the holidays, so don’t beat yourself up over having a slice of pie or some eggnog—just try to keep things in moderation.
  • Don’t mindlessly graze on leftovers and snacks. It’s easy to munch when you have easy access to leftovers and are cozied up inside. Rather than chowing down on whatever crosses your path, try to schedule snacks ahead of time or keep a food journal so you are more aware of what you are eating. I tend to go to the fridge when I’m bored, which is a terrible habit because then I end up eating when I’m not even hungry.
  • When traveling and spending all that family time, there is no alone time to decompress. Try to carve out some chunks of alone time, even if you need to wake up earlier than everyone else to get it. I try to schedule ample time between friend & family meet ups, or at least take 15-30 minutes at night to read a book and just be.
  • You expect everything to go perfectly and your family to be perfect. Give up hope that all holiday events and gatherings will go as planned. You might think this is finally the time that everything will go right, but you need to realize it won’t. You can only control how you behave and react to others. So take some deep breaths and try to accept your loved ones with an open heart. No one’s family is perfect, which for me means that my dad will drive my sister crazy trying get things ready for dinner, my mom will try to help and will actually make things worse, and my brother and I will sit quietly in the other room while they all get frazzled. But then—this is how the holidays always seem to be, and that’s okay with me. I get to be with family, so I’m happy.