The Holiday Season is supposed to be a time of joy, celebration, and quality time spent with loved ones. Unfortunately, it can be a little stressful for many. There are a lot of commitments we have to meet and this time of year is well-known for throwing people off their routine and adding stress to an already fast-paced life. One area that tends to be the most sacrificed during this time (besides our bank accounts) is our health. Long periods of travel, overindulging in food and drink, and being time poor are some of the reasons we tend to find it all too easy to give up our normal healthy habits.
So I’m here to help you navigate this problem. Because the last thing we want is a flare-up of pain or new onset of a physical issue preventing us from enjoying this time of year. Here is a list of helpful tips to keep you healthy and pain-free this Holiday Season!
Remove the guilt!
It’s ok to slack off. Healthy living is not about punishing yourself for falling short of your goals. It’s about balance and having a positive relationship with yourself first and foremost. Have the mentality that it is not the end of the world to lounge around with the family and be a little lazy and that that extra slice of pie won’t kill you!
Fit activities in where it’s easiest...
Now that you’ve accepted that you will probably miss a few days of workouts and won't be fully sticking to your fitness routine- let’s find ways to make up for it!
Christmas party at the office on a Friday after work means you’ll be missing your evening workout– fine– get up a little earlier that day and go for a walk, jog, do some exercises at home, whatever you can. Or go for a walk during your lunch time.
Flying out of town and your neck/back usually aches after a day of travel? Do some stretching before and after the flight! If you have a layover, go for a walk around the airport instead of sitting and scrolling on your phone at the gate.
You may not get a full workout in like you’re used to on some days– find ways to move about and stay active that are simple. It’s better than nothing.
Enjoy the Holiday foods, but save some for everyone else!
One great thing about Thanksgiving and Christmas is the FOOD! Things we usually only eat during this time of year, and we look forward to them. My favorite Holiday dessert is chocolate pecan pie; I don’t eat it any other time of the year. But I don’t need to eat a whole pie even though it’s DELICIOUS!
Be strategic- Get small portions of all the foods at the table that you want- even as small as 2 bites worth. Once you’ve sampled everything, feel free to go back and get more of what you liked best. If you take big spoonfuls of everything the first time around, you tend to overeat and still go back for seconds.
Keep the alcohol and sugary drinks to a minimum-
I didn’t say not to drink the eggnog or Christmas cocktail. But alcohol and sugar do really amplify inflammation in the body. And inflammation can lead to pain. Be selective with what you choose to indulge in, meaning it better be top-notch, homemade, handcrafted, delicious -or pass! Keep the alcohol drink count to 1-2 or at least space them out. This will keep you off Santa’s naughty list too ;)
WATER WATER WATER!
If you’re going to be less active and your diet less nutritious, overcompensate with water! Most people don’t drink enough water anyway. But filling up on water early in the day will help you flush out yesterday’s toxins, fill you up so you’re less hungry, and lubricate the joints and tissues in the body so you don’t feel as stiff.
I know you don’t want to be up all night making trips to the bathroom. So that’s why the key is to drink lots of water early in the day. Chug chug chug from breakfast to dinner.
How lucky are we to even be able to celebrate these Holidays with our friends and family? To have our health at all and be able to participate? Our routines may get screwed up, our in-laws might drive us crazy, traffic WILL be horrible! But these are such small issues when you look at the big picture. Be thankful for these times, be proud of the work you’ve put in, be grateful for your health, and live with abundance!
Happy Holidays everyone! Dr. Kayla Winter KFix Physical Therapy