Holiday Habits – Stay Healthy & Still Feel Joy

Everyone wants to tell us how to stay healthy during the holidays, but who really wants to listen? All the food, cocktails, and festivities – not to mention the sparkly attire. It’s too fun! (See next week’s post for a roundup of party outfits.)

And even though I love being active, the way I can eat has caused a zipper or two to break on its way up my indulgent behind. This weekend, I was particularly liberal with my food and beverage consumption. Joe was away for three days, speaking at a coaching conference in St. Louis, (big props to my better half), and the kids and I were alone to decorate, bake cookies, and eat all kinds of kid friendly food. I openly admit, I threw all mandatory vegetables to the wind and ate like my five year old. Well, come Monday, and I do not even feel like donning sweatpants, let alone sequins. However, I’ve learned how to accept and enjoy this time, while maintaining my health. Here are some words of encouragement and tips I use to stay on track, while not missing out on all the fun.


  • ACCEPT THAT YOU WILL NOT BE PERFECT THIS TIME OF YEAR. For those of you who can keep up carb/dairy/sugar/gluten/everything free this month, I applaud you. I just know I cannot be you. I’d like to think I won’t have a cookie, but I’d also like to think I’m Gisele. I will have sweets; I will just choose which are worth it. Cookies I made with my kids = worth it. My mother in law’s desserts = worth it. Stale cupcakes from the teacher’s room = not worth it. Once you differentiate, it makes the indulgence so much more enjoyable.
  • DON’T BERATE YOURSELF WHEN YOU GO A LITTLE NUTS. JUST GET BACK ON THE HORSE, AND LIVE FOR TODAY. As my intelligent husband, and plenty other smart people have said, there is no past, there is only now.  I refuse to feel guilty for the times I indulge. You won’t see a piggy face on my Instastory or a  #weekendeating, #dietstartstomorrow. If you read my post on foodshame, you know this is a sensitive topic for me. I grew up listening to my mom and grandmother constantly talk about how fattening holiday foods were and how they shouldn’t be eating something. It zapped the joy out of every holiday meal and made me feel ashamed for eating them. Not the way I want to live. So today, after my super fun weekend with the kids, I’m back to my daily breakfast of plain oatmeal, sprinkled with cinnamon, and three egg whites. Lunch is plain tuna, butter lettuce, and baby carrots. (A lot of baby carrots.) My workout is at 4:00. Back in the saddle – no matter how heavy my body feels after the weekend.  
  • 3.WATER, WATER, WATER. This is my water bottle: waterbottleIt’s 2.2 liters. My coworkers constantly comment about it – tease is probably more accurate. They may also get annoyed because I run to the bathroom in between almost every period. But water works. No pun intended. I drink this all day, and today I filled it twice. Sometimes I drink it when I feel like eating something sweet. Not nearly a substitute, but it makes me feel full. If I know I’m going somewhere I will face a lot of unhealthy choices, I drink a ton of water beforehand. I know I’m also supposed to chase every cocktail with a glass of water, but I tend to forget that one while in the throes of a party…
  1. SPEAKING OF COCKTAILS…..Dare I say replace some of them with club soda? I know.  And if you know me, you’re laughing out loud. But the older I get, the harder it is to function after drinking, so Joe and I both try to do this. (Read – try) We stock up on flavored seltzer, and we use it as a habit replacer during the week. It works – a lot of the time. (She wrote, while simultaneously sending rsvps to three holiday gatherings on random days of the week.) A cocktail can also consist of a splash of alcohol with a ton of club soda, rather than the other way around. Gift yourself a real cocktail jigger, and check out the height of a professional pour. I hope you’re not as shocked as I was!
  2. MAKE FOOD PREP YOUR MOTTO, AND USE SEASONAL VEGGIES.  Preparing lunch for the week is annoying, but fall and winter are the perfect seasons to line baking sheets with butternut or acorn squash, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. (I tend to ignore that squash is a “starchy veggie.” It’s yummy.) I got my husband to love vegetables ten years ago when he tasted the way I roasted them. And it doesn’t take a lot of time. You can roast at 400 degrees for thirty minutes, or longer at 375. Timing may depend on your oven. Drizzle with a good olive oil, add a pinch of salt, and go.
  3. STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFESTYLE. Ever have someone say to you, “Oh,come on, you don’t have to be good all the time.” (Well, I’m not.) Or, “Don’t tell me you can’t eat that.” (Well, I can, I’m just choosing not to right now.) What you eat, don’t eat, drink, don’t drink, is no one else’s business to comment about. If you choose to go to a fitness class after work on a Friday rather than meet people for cocktails, that’s your prerogative. They don’t need to know you’re waiting to enjoy a glass of wine with your husband, or that you have a party the next day and intend to splurge a little then. This philosophy may cause some people to be miffed at you, but honestly, if they don’t support you, they may not be people you want to surround yourself with. I know this because I live it.

I’m no expert when it comes to restraint, and the holidays are no exception. I love it all – the family time, the food, the way it’s okay to wear sequined skirts. These tips are helping me today, and they remind me that perfect is the enemy of good. I’m not perfect, I’m still full from the weekend, but I sure as heck had fun, and I will continue to do so. Thanks for reading!

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