How to Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

A 4-step guide to navigate the season of weight gain

The average American gains about a pound every year during the holiday season, not the 5lbs many reports lead you to believe. While one pound isn’t worth swearing off every holiday goodie you’re offered, the cumulative effect of gaining another pound every year and then maintaining it can incrementally increase your waistline and your risk for weight-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

With a sensible plan in place, you can prevent the weight creep this year and still enjoy all your favorite holiday treats.

The 4-Step Plan to Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

Step 1: Maintain your healthy habits

Some men and women completely relax their healthy eating and fitness habits during the holidays figuring they’ll focus on resetting them on January first. However, the best way to navigate the smorgasbord of holiday temptation is to stay conscious and active.

Studies show you’re more likely to make healthier food choices if you engage in exercise you enjoy before a big meal. If you get your workout in on the day of your work Christmas party like you normally would, you may end up eating more sensibly than if you skipped exercise.

You likely don’t want to undo all the hard work you’ve put in over the course of the year either and start the new year with extra ground to make up. If you maintain your routine, you won’t have to start all over again next year.

Framed another way, you still have over 31 days left in the year to pursue your goals and get a headstart on your New Year’s resolutions! Don’t let the opportunity slip away!

Step 2: Enjoy your splurges

We’d never tell you to skip grandma’s house this year because she’s serving butter-laden potatoes, gravy, and cookies. Enjoy your time with your family and every treat you crave without guilt.

However, to avoid that undesirable holiday weight gain, don’t let the occasional indulgence turn into weeks of going overboard. Go ahead and indulge on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Spread out your splurges and limit them to a day or two so you don’t overpower your body.

Remember, you’d have to consume 3,500 extra calories than you need to create a pound. Enjoying one day of Thanksgiving and Christmas fare while staying active shouldn’t result in lasting weight gain. However, if you splurge every day for weeks, it could.

Step 3: Build in acti-festivities

While you’re making efforts to maintain your healthy habits, you can also build active festivities (acti-festivities) into your holiday schedule and enlist the whole family. No need to rearrange your family’s highly-choreographed split schedules; just incorporate activity into your normal holiday routine.

There are plenty of ways to build activities into your current plans. If your cousins are visiting, show them up at the ski hill or take your nieces and nephews sledding nearby. Take a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights with your children after your turkey dinner or challenge your uncles to a push-up contest. These acti-festivities keep the blood moving and digestion humming while you enjoy your time with loved ones.

Step 4: Start new healthy traditions

Your holiday traditions don’t have to revolve around overeating and then collectively falling asleep on the couch either. You can create new traditions that build relationships without sabotaging your goals.

Host a holiday board game get-together every year for friendsgiving or have everyone in your crew sign up for a Turkey Trot before carving into the turkey. Find an activity you can repeat every year that your loved ones can all participate in together.

Soon, you’ll have several years’ worth of memories of your white elephant exchange to laugh about rather than several years’ worth of extra weight showing around the edges. Sounds much more pleasurable, doesn’t it?

Wishing you a healthy season full of everything that makes your heart full!