Halloween is the beginning of the holiday season. It’s full of parties and social events. More food, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep and many other occurrences that have the potential to derail us. All of these can impact your good intentions of exercising and eating right during the holidays. Thinking ahead, planning and preparation can help you get through this challenging time of year. Here are a few suggestions to help you survive the holiday season:

Stay motivated! Don’t lose what you’ve done to this point! As events begin to take over your calendar be sure to keep time on your schedule for YOU! Once you give up your “Me” time, it’s more difficult to get that time back. It may mean you have to adjust your schedule, but all the goals you’ve set for yourself won’t get reached if you don’t stay motivated and in control of your own actions. Make a plan and stick to it!

Avoid the holiday bulge! A study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) found that the amount of weight we gain during the holidays isn’t as bad as once thought. Typically, Americans gained less than one pound during the holidays. Volunteers in the study were asked about multiple factors that could have influenced their weight gain. The two factors that stood out for those who did not gain weight were staying active and not going hungry (1). Include exercise and movement in your schedule.

Think before you eat! Eat a healthy snack before going to parties so you won’t be tempted to overeat. Walk past the buffet and dessert tables without a plate. Look at what the options are, make a plan of the best choices available and then go back to get your plate. When selecting a plate, go for the smaller one. Also, don’t go back for a second serving. These step will help you with those unnecessary temptations because you’ve thought it through and are not acting on impulse.

Limit the drink. Holiday beverages can contain an outrageous amount of calories–with or without the alcohol. One cup of eggnog can have 350 calories, a White Russian can have 260 calories, while a cup of coffee with a shot of Irish Cream contains 130 calories. If you add a dollop of whipped cream, the calorie count jumps to 182. A better choice with less calories could include a glass of champagne or wine spritzer having only approximately 90 calories.

Stressed out? Relax! Trying to get everything done can lead to stress which can lead to unhealthy consequences. Control your stress by making a daily list of things to get done. Be realistic and don’t over estimate what you can get done. Pace yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Exercise improves mood and sleep, and it reduces depression and anxiety which can often happen during the holidays. Even if you only find a small amount of time to go for a walk or meditate – do it! You’ll feel better and be less stressed.

Get your sleep. Sleep is important during this crazy time of year.  Your goal should be to get seven to eight good hours a night. Getting enough sleep helps with your immune system so you don’t get sick, as well as reducing stress, controlling weight and a better mood. Have a goal of going to bed and getting up at the same time, limit screen time an hour before you are going to bed and keep the routine. Your body will adjust to it and make it easier to get the quality sleep you need.

The holiday season is a time you should enjoy and you are the only one who can control the outcome. Start now to get a plan in place and the end of the year will be much more enjoyable!

If you need help getting a plan in place to get through the holidays contact me and we’ll get through it together.

Reference: 1. Holiday Weight Gain Slight, But May Last A Lifetime. National Institutes of Health. 22 Mar. 2000. Date accessed 29 Oct. 2012. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/holidayweightgain.cfm.