The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. If we’ve made commitments to healthy habits, however, we can feel torn between enjoying the season and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But it’s possible to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your goals. 

Aim for moderation

A sometimes overused term, moderation can be your friend when you’re seeking to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your goals. Rather than throwing in the towel and re-starting your healthy habits in January, aim to moderate your choices. Have a great-tasting dessert or beverage AND continue to eat nutritious food, too. It doesn’t have to be either/or. It can be both/and. When you drink alcohol, have a glass of water before consuming another drink to slow consumption and enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your goals. Or when you’re at the holiday table, have a few bites of your favorite foods and load your plate with the protein and veggies for a healthy balance.  

Skip the guilt 

If you ate more food than you intended or drank more than you planned, start over at the first available opportunity. Do it at the next meal or start again the next day. Don’t beat yourself up! Stress actually exacerbates the cycle by reducing your body’s ability to burn fat and increasing your craving for sugar. Move on. Let it go and return to nutrient filled choices as soon as you can. You can enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your goals when you leave the guilt behind. 

Leverage the Fresh Start effect

The fresh start effect states that you are more likely to take action towards a goal after temporal landmarks or special occasions that represent new beginnings. While January 1st is a popular date for making a healthy change, you can leverage this same principle on the first day of the week, for example. If you missed your workouts from the prior week, set Monday as your new start. While this might seem cliche, research indicates you are 33% more likely to exercise on Monday than any other day of the week.

Plan non-food activities

Food and drinks often accompany our social activities. This year in particular, we have the opportunity to re-think and reimagine what social gatherings look like. Consider ways to enjoy one another’s company without sitting in a restaurant or gathering over a home cooked meal. Go for a walk and enjoy the holiday lights. Gather friends to shovel your neighbor’s driveways. Or hit the slopes for some downhill skiing or head off on a cross-country trek. Combining your social life with physical activity is a great way to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your goals. 

Recruit a partner

Accountability is one of the best ways to accomplish any goal you set out to achieve. If you want to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your goals but are fearful of falling short of your expectations, find someone else who shares the same goals to support you. Check in with each other regularly. Ask one another what you need from the other and follow up. Set realistic goals and encourage each other to enjoy the season while maintaining your healthy habits. 

It’s time to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your goals! What healthy goal have you set for yourself? We’d love to hear from you!