How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

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Good morning!

Well last night was interesting to say the least!!

Eric and I waited for my CTV News Interview to air at 6pm. We waited, and waited, and waited, and then it was over without my interview being aired. I guess they got their wires crossed with the air time. Around 10pm on Sunday, I got an email from a reader saying that the interview aired in British Columbia!!! lol. We checked the 11pm National CTV News as well as the 11:30pm Toronto News, but there was nothing. I am guessing it will air tonight in Ontario at 6pm!? I’m still waiting for confirmation. I will Tweet about it today when I find out!

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How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

For many people, the last few weeks of the year are often the most indulgent in terms of snacking, big meals, desserts, and easing up on the exercise routine. For years, I struggled with trying to find a balance between enjoying the pleasures of the holidays while still feeling healthy and energetic. I finally feel like I am at a place where I can find a good balance during the holidays and I’d like to share with you some of my favourite tips!

 IMG 7040 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

img 0956 thumb1   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 1. Stick With Your Exercise Routine
If there is one thing I try to always stay consistent with, it is exercise. Exercise sets the tone for the day and helps me make healthier decisions all day long. As soon as I feel like I have fallen off the wagon, I want to drop exercise and all other healthy intentions like a bad habit. It is easy to fall off the wagon, so I try to stick with it even when traveling. I will often call ahead to a nearby gym and see if I can get a free trial pass for a few days when I am away and I always bring my workout clothes, sneakers, and a workout DVD wherever I go. Most of the time I get up before the rest of the family is awake and I squeeze my workout in. Other times I ask family members to join me!
However, some days I won’t be able to get in my normal workout and that is understandable! If this is the case, I will try to do just 15 minutes of activity like a simple walk around the block or strength exercises like Whittle My Middle. Some exercise is better than no exercise. It all adds up and gets the endorphins flowing!

2. You Don’t Have To Attend Every EventIMG 7035 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays
In previous years, Eric and I have committed to more holiday events than we really had time for. This resulted in an overbooked calendar and not enough time to just kick our feet up and unwind. What works for us now is to pick one or two holiday parties to go to. This year, we decided that we are going to host our own party and that is it. My advice is to only commit to what you can and what you really want to attend. Less stress means that I will tend to make healthier food choices which is always an added bonus.

 IMG 1653 thumb1   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays3. Get Your Sleep
The amount of sleep I get builds the foundation for how healthy my day will be. I always try to get around 7.5-8 hours of sleep. When I am fully rested I don’t get as many cravings for high calorie and high fat foods and I have more energy to workout. If I get less than 7 hours of sleep, I know it is going to be a tough day to stick to my routine and I can pretty much guarantee I will be reaching for nutritionally void carbs all day long no matter how good my intentions are.

IMG 7770 thumb1   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 4. Bake Healthier
This was a tip I gave in Self Magazine. I always try to make healthy swaps when baking traditional recipes. This year I will probably make my Vegan Pumpkin Pie and Vegan Sweet Potato Pie for Christmas. I will also be making some healthy cookies and lots of Glo Bars to share with family and friends.

5. Fill Up The Tank With FiberIMG 2849 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays
When I am at a holiday dinner, I try to eat a lot of vegetables. They are high in water and fiber. I love filling my plate with vegetables and crunching away. The fiber in them won’t fill you up for a long time, but they will carry you from cocktails to the dinner table without feeling too famished. I try to aim for healthy foods to make up 75% of my plate and splurge foods 25%. If I am going somewhere I always try to bring one healthy option with me.

IMG 1788 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 6. Pick Your Poison
Sugary drinks give me killer hangovers so I try my best to stay away from cocktails and margaritas, no matter how delicious they look. I try to stick to red wine or light beer and drink a glass of water in between each drink that I have. This keeps me hydrated and headache free most of the time. However, even with the best intentions I overdo it with drinks, and this leads to Backup Plan B. ;)

7. Bring A Food Stash
Whenever I travel somewhere, I always pack a food stash. Healthy options can be far and few between, especially at gas stations or in remote areas.
On trips, I always pack: Vitamins (Vitamin C, D, Calcium.Magnesium, B12), Glo Bars, apples, bananas, almonds, Mary’s Crackers, Amazing Grass Powder, and Sencha Green tea. No matter where I am, I know that I have a healthy option on hand.

IMG 3069 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 8. Don’t Deprive Before Or After
In the past, I used to deprive myself in the meals leading up to a big holiday dinner and in the meals following a big dinner. This resulted in a couple things: 1) It made me grumpy and irritable, and 2) It led to over-eating. I have now learned to just eat normally before and after holiday meals. I eat my regular sized breakfast and lunch. I no longer feel that I have to deprive myself just because I am going to have an indulgent meal. The bigger deal you make out of the holiday meal, the more stress-inducing it will be. Just treat it was any other meal and enjoy it!

9. Eat Whatever You Want, But Eat Slower Than Normal
During holiday meals, I always eat what I want and how much I want, but I try to eat slower than usual. I am usually a fast eater, so if I try to enjoy and appreciate the food, I find that I notice my ‘full signal’ much sooner. Eating slower during a social gathering is usually very easy since I am usually engaged in conversation anyways!

IMG 2903 thumb   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays 10. Lose The Guilt
Even with the best of intentions, I typically always over do it at least once during the holidays. ;) I have learned that the best way to get over it, is to just accept it for what it is and carry on with my day as normal! I try to get in a good workout first thing in the morning and guzzle a Green Monster and I am usually feeling back to my old self by lunch time. As I mentioned in Tip #8, I don’t deprive myself after a splurge anymore. I just carry on as normal and try not to think about it. It really isn’t the end of the world if I get off track for a day or two. The sooner I realize this, the happier I am!

11. Lose The All Or Nothing Mindset

All those years, I was sabotaging myself by saying, ‘Don’t worry, on Jan. 1st you will get back on track.’ I realized that this was the classic All or None Thinking. I needed to stop seeing the holidays as black or white or good or bad. I learned that I could still make healthy choices throughout the day even if I was going to have an indulgent meal. Just because I had two slices of pie and half a box of chocolates doesn’t mean the rest of my day or week can’t be based around healthy decisions. Remember, each decision is a FRESH decision!

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What part of the holiday season do you find the most difficult to stick to your healthy behaviours?

Have you learned any tips on how to stay on track?

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I’m off to bake…for those of you who have been asking, holiday orders started to ship out last Friday. I will be shipping them out in the order that I received them. You will receive a tracking number when your item ships out to confirm everything.

I have a special visitor from someone this week!!! Any guesses?? :)

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Last week of Project Feed Me is up- 2 bags of rice!

Angela Signature thumb8   How To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanessa (Last Night's Leftovers) December 7, 2009

Great tips!

Your photos are too cute. :)

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Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 7, 2009

What a fantastic post – it really put things in perspective for me. I am definitely trying to keep up my exercise routine throughout this ‘silly season’. If I know I have an evening function – I try and get my workout done in the morning before work.
PS – Can’t wait to hear about the interview!!

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MarathonVal December 7, 2009

Great tips, as always! It’s also taken me years to realize that everything is not black and white. However, I’m still incapable of having anything I deem to be “bad” for breakfast because I feel like the whole day is off to a bad start, nutritionally speaking. Crazy, right??? But it’s a goal of mine to work on, and in the meantime, I couldn’t live without my Green Monsters for breakfast! :)

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Kristy December 7, 2009

This is the first list of this type that actually gave original ideas. Thanks!

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Lindsay December 7, 2009

Great tips! I love “pick your poison” lol.

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Susan December 7, 2009

Wonderful tips!!! I always like to approach the holidays with three days in mind – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Those are the days where I sort of let loose on the eating and drinking, and maybe skip the workout (gym is usually closed anyways). But every other day is business as usual :)

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Danielle December 7, 2009

Thank you so much for the great advice!

P.S.
I can’t wait to get my Glo Bars :)

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Kristin (runningsongs) December 7, 2009

Being prepared is so important! I never travel without a bag of emergency snacks, my running shoes and a set of workout clothes – whether the travel is for work or for pleasure. Now, if only those best intentions always held… my willpower is usually lost with the second glass of wine! But I still try!

Such a great list!

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Kristin (runningsongs) December 7, 2009

Oh yeah – I can’t wait to see the interview! Any idea of when it will be showed in the GTA?

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skinnyrunner December 7, 2009

love the tips! especially bringing healthy food with you where ever you go. we are in vegas right now and i brought a huge stash of bars, starbucks via, and vitamins with me bc i hate to be hungry! i too get really grumpy.

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Karla December 7, 2009

Thanks for the post! I will be taking a lot of this advice. I think for me the most important one is lose the all or nothing attitude. I tend to do that a lot and it doesn’t really help me out a whole lot.

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Jolene December 7, 2009

I try and eat healthy for the majority of the day, so that during the holiday season I can have a little treat in the evening some days. I love to enjoy indulgent foods during the holiday season!

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Caroline December 7, 2009

Great post! I love the tips! Holidays are especially hard for me as a college student because I am finally home with all my favorite foods so I just want to eat them all the time! But I also have more time to devote to exercising, so it all works out : )

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maria December 7, 2009

Great, great, great tips! Thanks Angela! I especially love the last one and think it is the worst trap to fall into because then all of the above get left behind!

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Marilyn December 7, 2009

Great advice, Angela! It’s so easy to fall into all or nothing thinking about eating AND working out too.

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marnie December 7, 2009

Thanks for the wonderful tips! I think I’ll bookmark this page and refer back to it over the holidays.

I really like the advice about losing the “all or none” thinking. Often people tell me things like “This is one of the few times of year that you get to eat like this, so enjoy it!” Sometimes I believe these statements (even though I know I shouldn’t think this way) and then I fall into the trap of all or none thinking. This is what makes the difference between me truly enjoying some dessert and devouring 3 or 4 slices of pie in one sitting (because now is my chance!) and then feeling sick.

One thing that does help me is to visualize myself making good decisions. I try to imagine myself waking up and going for a run first thing, or slowly savoring some cake and being engrossed in the conversation and all the other elements of the holidays.

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toni December 7, 2009

thanks for the information, your blog is very good and interesting

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Hillary @ Nutrition Nut on the Run December 8, 2009

Love the tips – thanks for the reminder! You look fabulous in all of the pics. You’re so tiny, girlie. Wish I had your adorable figure.

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Julia December 8, 2009

Thanks so much for the tips. I especially like the one about eating what you want, but slower. I’ve found that at the big meals I’ve been at lately, I take whatever looks good, but I only take small portions of each, it allows me to try it all without eating 2 plates of food. I’m still working on dessert though, lol, sometimes I think I should just skip dinner and go right to the Christmas cookies!

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Amy December 8, 2009

I love the pic of you in the blue sweater when you’re getting ready to go running.

You look so skinny, lean and toned! :)

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Chrysta December 8, 2009

Love the tips!! Thanks!

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Marsha December 8, 2009

Great post – I never thought of bringing an exercise dvd with me when I travel. I’m going to have to look into that.

Also, you look extremely thin in that photo, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the camera angle.

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One Healthy Apple December 8, 2009

My question is always to ask myself if it’s ‘worth’ the splurge. I love the holidays for the family time together and for the relaxation. I let my exercise slide to only 3 days a week when everything is crazy, BUT I keep my meals healthy most of the time- 80/20 works for me!

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lz December 9, 2009

Angela, thank you for taking the time to share these thoughtful tips. I especially appreciate #11–I, too, know exactly what you mean by self-sabotaging and the “I’ll start fresh in January!” mindset. But we can’t predict what life may throw at us a few days or weeks down the road; we can only control what is in front of us *right now.* So, we can make the choice eat healthy *now.*
Best wishes for a cheerful holiday season!

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Tammy December 11, 2009

What a great post! I should read it every morning to keep myself in check ;) I love your blog and you are one of the few bloggers that have inspired me to start my own blog. Thanks for all you do! Tammy

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