4 Tips on Staying Fit During the Holidays

by Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Last Updated: December 9, 2020

‘Tis the time of year for Friendsgivings, turkey trots, and cookie bake-offs. For those trying to get or stay fit, the holiday season can be extremely challenging. Everywhere you go, a tasty treat seems to follow, and there always seems to be another event on the calendar. Don’t let the holidays hold you back from achieving optimal health and well-being. Follow these simple tips to remain on track to stay fit this holiday season.
  1. Plan It Out, All of It.
    There is always time and opportunity for a workout. Planning out where, when, how long, and who you will workout with can make getting it in that much easier. If you’re not used to working out regularly, don’t expect to hit the gym five days each week. Aim for something realistic that you know your schedule will allow. Think about when you are most motivated and schedule your workout then, as this will make getting into the car or pressing start a little less challenging. Knowing what you’re going to do is also important. We’ve all showed up at the gym not knowing what machine to use or sitting on the couch, not sure which DVD to select. Whether it’s a long run, strength training, or a combination of both, make it something fun and different from previous workouts. Repeating the same workout is an easy way to become bored and less likely to stick to your plan. If you find sticking to your workout schedule hard, ask a family member to safely join, or Zoom with friends to keep yourself and each other accountable. Something people always tend to forget about is rest! Allow yourself to have rest days. Over-exercising can drive overeating, extreme fatigue, and soreness, and injury. Remember, whether it’s 15-minutes or 1 hour, anything is better than nothing.
  2. Treat Yourself Mindfully.
    It’s easy to overindulge when work parties, cookie exchanges, and family gatherings are weekly occurrences. With the pandemic this year, avoiding treats may be slightly easier than in years past. We still know, though, that it is easy to overeat or binge on a tin of cookies. For all the Christmas cookie lovers out there, bake your heart out, but try cutting the recipes in half or giving some to your neighbors. Removing sweet treats from your house or out of your office can prevent you from mindless snacking on them for days. We do believe that all food fits, which includes cookies, but in moderation. Have that cookie or treat, and then, drink water and snack on a serving of fruit. Go for quality calories first, as they’ll keep you fuller and more satisfied.
  3. Balance Out the Booze.
    Holidays are a time of celebrating and spending quality time with friends and family. Americans double their drinking between Thanksgiving and the New Year. This comes as no surprise when festive alcoholic drinks are usually the first thing served at gatherings. Not only does drinking one too many leave you feeling hungover the next day, but alcohol can affect nutrition and the endurance you’ve been working so hard on. When faced with deciding what to drink, choose lower calorie, lower carbohydrate, and lower sugar-containing beverages. Things to avoid include pre-made drink mixes, adding sugar-sweetened beverages to mask liquor’s flavor, and heavy beers, as these contain more calories. Keep your portions in check as well, and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Try alternating between alcohol and water to keep the drinking to a minimum.
  4. Approach and Eat Meals with Confidence.
    It’s perfectly okay to eat a little more than you’re used to eating at meals you or your friends have worked so hard to prepare. The trick is not to overdo it and set yourself up for success--plan to work out the night before or the morning of the holiday. If your celebration doesn’t start until later in the day, fill up your morning with nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Pile your plate with a little bit of everything to keep portions small and strategically eat your meal, starting with vegetables and fruit, followed by lean protein and grains. Be sure to drink water throughout the meal and eat slowly.

It can be hard staying fit over the holidays with Christmas movie marathons, tasty treats staring at you from across the room, and friends wanting to ring in the new year. Having a plan of attack for what, where, and when you workout and eat can keep you moving in the right direction. Let a Kroger Health Dietitian help you, as they can work with you on creating realistic goals to keep you accountable this holiday season. Schedule your virtual telenutrition appointment today!

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth loves being a dietitian because it connects her two passions- helping people, and healthy living. She’s a walking encyclopedia of better for you foods, meals, and culinary hacks to ensure her patients are enjoying the flavors they love while eating and staying well.