No matter how much our culture changes, year after year, one of the top New Year’s resolutions never seems to change. If you guessed losing weight and eating healthier, you’re right! People seem to be more inclined to make healthier eating choices and incorporate some sort of exercise regimen prior to the holiday season. However, as soon as Thanksgiving shows up on the calendar, we throw our health-conscious values and ideals out the window. By the time January 1 rolls around,t we find ourselves cringing at the choices we’ve made in the past 30 plus days! We remember all the pie we consumed, the holiday beverages we had one too many of, and the exercise that quite frankly, just did not exist.
Many of us find ourselves in this same predicament year after year. By the time we’ve entered the New Year, reality sets in. We feel bloated, heavier, tired and drained. Many people complain of gaining anywhere from 5-10 pounds. No matter what the number on the scale, we end the year feeling not so great about ourselves. But what if this year you decided to do something different? What if instead you were to end the year feeling healthy, vibrant, and more energized than before? The holidays should be a time to recharge with our loved ones; a time to reflect, appreciate, and rest. We don’t have to end the year feeling run down. All we need to do is make better food and lifestyle choices.
Here are just a few ideas to stay more fit, healthier, and happier this holiday season:
Keep going to the gym. The holidays can be very hectic, chaotic and even stressful at times. With so much to do, we tend to feel overwhelmed and exercising gets moved to the bottom of the list. Instead of looking at exercise as another chore to be done this holiday season, see it as an outlet to release any tension you may be feeling. Exercise will naturally reduce stress by increasing your endorphins and reducing cortisol. When we exercise regularly we feel great, look great, and keep our bodies moving towards a state of health.
Indulge, but don’t over-indulge. One of the best parts of the holidays is the food and drinks. We all deserve to let loose a little and occasionally have that piece of pie…or at least a few bites of it. Unfortunately, many of us don’t just overeat during the celebrations, but during all the weeks in between too. We tend to think, “well I ate bad already, and the rest of the holidays will be here before I know it, what’s the point of eating healthy now?” Consider allowing yourself to indulge on the big days like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year’s, then stay in control during the days and weeks in between. This allows us to have something to look forward to, while not falling into that self-destructive pattern where we actually gain weight. Emotional eating and stress eating are also common during this time of year. If you feel yourself beginning to emotionally eat, give yourself a moment to think about why you might be doing it. Are you bored? Are you upset about something? Are you stressed out? Are you just reaching for the first thing you see? Finding the root of why you want to eat something unhealthy may help you to avoid it entirely.
Your healthy diet is a lifestyle change, not just a New Year’s Resolution. Many of us tend to fall into this trap. We find ourselves justifying our poor eating choices and lack of exercise because we plan on starting this miraculous diet come January 1st. Unfortunately, healthy living is exactly what it is, a way of life. Most people set the bar too high for their New Year’s resolution, and find themselves back to square one before the month is even over. Instead, continue to exercise and make healthy eating a priority during the holidays. This allows us to make a more reasonable New Year’s Resolution such as, “taking my supplements every day, or “trying that new spin class at my gym.” Small and consistent changes are the way to go.
Making even minor changes at holiday events can really help to reduce your caloric intake. One of my favorites tricks is to eat before you go to a party. It’s easier to make good food choices when you’re not hungry. Staying away from that piece of bread, eating one cookie instead of two, sticking to higher protein-rich foods, and consuming lighter alcoholic beverages will also help. All of these smart choices will add up to a fitter, leaner, happier, and healthier holiday season!
Dr. Shannon Homkovics received her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. She was recently named the Director of the award-winning Life Diet Weight Loss Program at The Life Center of Connecticut. Her tools include diet and nutrition, nutritional supplements, botanical medicine, acupuncture, counseling, hydrotherapy, homeopathy and lifestyle changes. Dr. Homkovics is now taking new weight loss patients. Please call (203) 239-3400 to schedule your visit in either our North Haven or West Hartford location.