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Develop your healthy holiday plan

Develop Your Healthy Holiday Plan

The holiday season has arrived and now is the time to strategically plan for a month of celebrating. This time of year is notorious for commitments that interfere with exercise combined with overeating unhealthy foods. By making a plan to overcome these obstacles, you will stay on track to meet your health and fitness goals.

1. Make a list of your favorite seasonal foods 
There are special holiday foods that you can’t get any other time of year. Depriving yourself will only make you feel miserable and increase the chances that you will give up and overindulge. Instead, decide how you will incorporate these foods into a healthy eating plan. Make a list of your must-have foods. Your favorite cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning? When you plan for special treats, you can alter your food intake around this time so that you don’t go overboard on unhealthy fat, sugar, or calories.

2. Set exercise goals
Think about what the holiday season really looks like for you. You might be someone with few commitments, who only needs to alter your exercise routine for light travel right around the holidays. Or you might be a person with a packed schedule from Halloween to New Years. Plan your exercise accordingly and set goals for what you’d like to accomplish over the next two to three months. Make these goals achievable but defend them vigilantly. Maybe home videos are a better option than a trip to the gym. Or maybe you swap a road run in for a spin class. Set an exercise goal for each week and hold yourself to it. You'll feel better after, we promise!

3. Draft a schedule of your traditional commitments 
Most people attend the same parties year after year and travel to the same family reunion. Get these commitments on your calendar and include key tasks like shopping for gifts and baking. Next, add your exercise sessions to the calendar. Add some longer workouts in the weeks before you know things will get busy.

4. Decide what you will skip 
It might be passing on the cookie tray in favor of a slice of pie, taking a break from an evening exercise class and replacing it with an early morning session, or eliminating an event that causes you stress every year. In order to enjoy the holidays, you have to make strategic trade-offs. Not having every dessert available will save you hundreds of calories. You may miss your regular yoga class, but successfully completing a planned workout is better than skipping it at the last minute due to a schedule change. Some old traditions need to be let go to make room for new, healthier ones. Spend some time thinking about what you will cut out of your holiday season to make it healthier and happier.

5. Put the plan into action
A healthy plan will do you no good if you fail to put it into action. Start now by making your meals healthier and sticking to your regular workouts. When the parties and commitments begin, you will have several weeks of healthy habits under your belt. Use your calendar, set reminders on your smartphone, and ask friends to hold you to your workouts. All of these steps will make a healthy holiday a natural part of the next month.

Stay on track with healthy behaviors through the holiday season and your body (and your physical therapist!) will thank you. Happy holidays from the Reischl PT team. 

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