Squeeze in Diet & Exercise During the Holidays (Part 1)

Christmas cookiesMy parents are coming to town this weekend. I haven't bought one single present. And, wait, I probably should have sent out my holiday cards by now.

It's not easy to keep up with Christmas, and I'm a little worried about making it to the gym and staying away from the brownies my neighbor gave me. I am having trouble squeezing in time for my healthy diet and exercise.

For advice, I asked Carole Carson, the lively and inspiring author of From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction. Check back for more of her stay-fit tips tomorrow.


Cafe Kristen: Why do we tend to go off the deep end, forget our diets and forget to work out during the holidays?

Carole Carson: The holidays mean extra work. For many of us who work hard throughout the year, the holidays add another hour or more of tasks to accomplish each day. In the rush of getting just one more task completed, we skip meals or grab a cookie for quick energy so we can keep going.

The additional stress and the accompanying fatigue can make us use dysfunctional ways to comfort ourselves, such as eating and drinking too much. Make a list of healthful ways to comfort yourself that won't add pounds or make your problems even worse. Try taking a walk, watching a favorite show or going to bed a few minutes earlier because you're extra tired.

CK: Do you have any tips for staying on track?

CC: Definitely. See my ideas below.

  • Fun. Make sure your holiday activities are fun. If they aren't, skip them and go on to another. If you're tired from trying to do too much, and the tasks are no longer enjoyable, then get some rest (and consider postponing or cutting back on your "to do" list). Looking back, your family, friends and children will not remember whether you achieved perfection in home decorations or cooking, but they will remember if they had fun on the holidays they shared with you.
  • Integrate. Integrate your exercise and nutrition needs into your holiday schedule. For example, if you can't get 30 minutes of exercise in one solid block, then take six ten-minute periods to walk or work out. When you're standing in line at the grocery store checkout, go up on your toes, count to ten and then step back down. When you're preparing meals, include tasty choices that won't pack on pounds. (Your guests may appreciate those same choices since, like you, they are probably trying to avoid gaining holiday pounds.)
  • Together: Focus on exercise activities you can do with family and friends. On the holiday, for example, plan a walk either before or after the main meal. Blow up some balloons and play indoor volleyball. Get everyone involved in cooking meals so that no one person is saddled with all of the work. Involve children in planning meals and food preparation. Plan occasions that focus on activities or games, rather than eating and food. For instance, have a party where everyone brings their favorite games.

Dealing with holiday stress? Check out one CafeMom's question in the Shopping section: Who feels overwhelmed with the holidays and all the shopping?

Will you try to stay on track with your diet and exercise as the holidays get closer?

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