We all love a good pumpkin pie, sugar cookie or sip of egg nog, but our heart and our waistline are often what suffer this time of year. Too much of many good things cause Americans to gain an average of 3-5 pounds over the holidays (and prompt countless New Year’s resolutions and new gym memberships in January). But, there are ways you can help your body this season and not pack on any holiday baggage:
1. Don’t overdo it – I know, I know, this is obvious, but it’s also much harder than it sounds. Between the holiday parties and family gatherings there tends to be many more goodies, sweets and rich, fatty foods around than normal. So, if you are going to a party, try to eat a light, healthy dinner at home first (like a salad and soup or snack on some fruit or veggies) so that you’ll be less tempted to chow down once you get there.
2. Plan time for exercise – with holiday schedules often a blur, it’s difficult to carve out time to get to the gym or that spinning class. But, keeping your body moving is not only important for your muscles, it’s a great stress reliever for your mind and spirit, too. If you can’t make it to the gym, take a walk, get outside and finish up the last of that fall raking, or even do 15 minutes of extra vacuuming or dusting (those holiday guests will be impressed!). The little things add up and will help. Here are some holiday exercise tips and ideas on how to sneak in some cardio.
3. Plan time for rest – while this might sound like it contradicts #2, rest and relaxation are an important part of your body’s rhythm and overall health, too. If you are well-rested, you are far more likely to ward off colds and flu and will be more motivated to exercise than if you are tired or feeling “blah.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has some great tips for healthy sleep here.
4. Look eastward – that’s right, to Oriental Medicine. There are several herbs like green tea and shan za and foods like mung beans, yi yi ren (coix) and winter melon that can help your metabolism function smoothly and keep your digestive system at peak performance. Additionally, acupuncture has been shown to help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. A licensed practitioner can customize a program that fits your needs, diet and lifestyle.
5. Relax – remember that one of the biggest joys of the holiday season is spending time with family and friends. By letting yourself relax and simply enjoy this time of year, you will help yourself stay centered, calm and healthy.