Happy Holidays to everyone from ZooFit. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, or all or none of the above, this is a special time of year. It is the season of giving, huddling close to fires, reflecting on the year, and a general jolly feeling lingers in the air.
ZooFit is all about being the best version of ourselves, any time of the year. The holidays are a notorious season where our goals get pushed to the back burner. We’ll pick them back up and brush them off in the new year. Let’s just have fun, eat, drink, and be merry.
There are many ways we can enjoy ourselves without giving up on our fitness or well-being. Here’s the first of three installments to help you have a Healthy, Happy, and Hopeful holiday.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
If parties fill you with dread because you know you will be surrounded by tempting foods, seasonal beverages, and the craving to over-indulge on sweets and treats, you are not alone. Here are some helpful tips to navigating the holiday party:
- Before going to a party, prepare a healthy, satisfying meal. Don’t skimp on the calories, skimp on the sugar, processed food, and refined flour. By filling up on healthy foods at home, you may have enough satisfaction to withhold from stuffing your face while you are at the party.
But this isn’t a full-proof plan. To help you succeed, back up your goal for not over-indulging with a reward at the end of the night. Plan to get a massage if you go the night without eating too much. Or while you go shopping, give yourself a treat with a $25 spree while at your favorite store. This incentive, along with the healthy meal beforehand, will motivate you to mingle without munching too much.
- In his book Willpower, Roy Baumeister shares a research study on resisting temptations which I have to say has worked wonders on my own eating habits. In the study, participants were instructed to tell themselves one of two statements during dessert. Group A told themselves “I am not going to have dessert, I can’t have dessert.” Group B told themselves “I can have dessert LATER.” The group with the most success in resisting the tempting dessert cart was the group who told themselves they could have it later. Denying ourselves of something we find pleasurable drains our willpower. We have to exert more of it to stay true to our convictions. But if we say “later”, it signals the brain that we don’t have to exert any energy into resisting. We’re just not going to have it right away.
My husband and I have started practicing this a while ago, when we go out to eat. Before, we used to look over the menu, and always found the appetizers so tempting, so we’d order some and then have our full dinner as well. We’d always overeat, and feel not so great after the meal. Then we decided to employ this “we can have it later” mentality. We order dinner first, and after we eat our meal, if we are still hungry, then we’ll order something else. Now, Chris and I don’t eat out too often, but over the past three months or so, we have only ordered something after dinner once. Trust me, this method works.
When you go to a party which has lots of tempting desserts, tell yourself you can eat them later. Then fill up your plate with healthier options. Like, REALLY fill up your plate. Afterwards, if you are still hungry, and are still heavily tempted to try the treats, then allow yourself to taste some of them.
- The last option for parties I want to suggest is to make something to eat at the party yourself. I’m not talking about getting a veggie tray, there will be plenty of veggie trays at the party. I’m referring to my method of cleaning up old favorites. Do you have a recipe for pumpkin bread? Cookies? Or some other dessert? Why not make it with healthier ingredients? Switch out the sugar for a sweetener alternative like Stevia or monk fruit. Or use almond flour instead of all-purpose or pastry flour. Look online for suggestions on how to create a healthier version of your favorite treats (I found this recipe for Pomegranate Torte and simply removed the maple syrup to create a Keto/Paleo/Vegan version of a decadent dessert).
Parties can be a tricky situation for anyone. I want to reiterate, you are not alone in feeling defeated or overwhelmed when going to these soirees. I don’t mean I’m with you in spirit (although if that helps, I TOTALLY am there with you in spirit). I mean, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are others AT THAT PARTY who need help and are struggling this time of the year, too. You don’t even have to make an announcement. Just be your radiant self. Show people how you are taking care of yourself with your eating habits. Those people will find YOU. And you will have each other to give a boost of willpower. You might make a new friend in the process as well.
Okay, the one thing I really hate about Christmas music is you CANNOT workout to it. Maybe “Run Run Rudolph” or “Little St. Nick” (the Muppet version), but most songs I just don’t find to be super motivating.
Pair the hustle and bustle of the holidays, running short on time, and eating ALL THE THINGS, and many people fall off their fitness bandwagon this time of the year. But not YOU. Not this year. ZooFit has you covered!
- If you are short on time and can’t make it to the gym, there are HUNDREDS, if not thousands of workouts you can find online. Heck, even ZooFit posts two workouts every week on our blog. Most workouts range between 15-25 minutes, and we rarely program anything which requires equipment. We are even working on a few holiday workouts, to keep you in the holiday spirit while getting your sweat on. Pick one of the workouts and do it in the comfort of your own home. You can even do it in your pajamas if you like. No one is judging you. You will only get hi-fives and hugs from me.
- Create a floor and ceiling minimum and maximum for what you want to do every day. Bare minimum- what is the least amount you could do EVERY DAY, which you KNOW you will succeed? Can you walk to your mailbox once a day? How about one minute of jumping jacks before dinner? Twenty push-ups/squats/sit-ups every day. Make it so easy you cannot fail. That’s your floor. Your ceiling? That’s something you want to reward yourself with for completing. It’s the ideal 25 minutes of continuous movement, the 100 burpees, the strength training, workout class you don’t do DAILY, but you want to keep pretty regular. While your floor is something so easy you cannot fail, your ceiling should be so awesome you don’t want to fail.
- If you are an IRL shopper, this time of year can be a nightmare for you. But why not make it into a positive? Instead of circling the parking lot for the closest spot, make going to the mall or shopping center part of your workout for the day. Seek out the FURTHEST parking spot and walk to the store. Michelle Segar in her book No Sweat calls these Opportunities to Move, or OTMs. It’s a small mindset shift from risking parking lot road rage to actually being grateful and seeing each situation as a blessing. Get your steps in while bringing holiday cheer.
While the stress of the holidays can do a number on our sanity, it doesn’t have to derail our fitness completely. Stay connected to your health, and enjoy the holidays in a positive way.
Eat clean, be merry, and train positive!