10 Tips to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us—a time of family gatherings and joyful celebrations. Delicious food abounds and free time is in short supply as shopping, cleaning, and traveling takes priority.

Stress levels tend to increase as well; family conflicts flare, budgets are strained and exhaustion may set in as you stay up to wrap that last gift or have just one more drink at the latest holiday party. So amidst all the ups and downs, how do you find ways to stay healthy and enjoy the season rather than just survive it?

There are many ways to "sneak" in exercise, eat well (still indulge) and relax your mind to get through the holiday season healthy and happy.

Exercise

Finding small ways to fit in exercise will help maintain energy and decrease stress levels, meaning you'll get more done and feel good about it.

While Shopping: If you can walk to the store for groceries or gifts, do it. Walking a mile to and from the store burns an extra 160 calories. Carrying bags of goodies will strengthen your upper body as well. If you aren't within walking distance of stores, park further away from the door.

Or, plan to get to the mall a half hour early and do a few laps of window shopping before making purchases. To get in even more walking time, take your bags to your car between purchases.

While Cooking: Do calf raises while doing the dishes. Work your legs and quads with squats and pushups  (regular or with your hands on the counter) while waiting for the water to boil. Lunge across the kitchen to get to the pantry and work your biceps and shoulders by curling and lifting cans of food.

While Cleaning: General cleaning burns anywhere from 100 to 160 calories per hour, depending on how vigorously you're cleaning. Raking can burn up to 300 calories per hour. Turn on your favorite music to really make the chore fly by.

While Traveling: Bring a yoga mat and a laptop with you and squeeze in a few sun salutations before joining the family for breakfast. Go for a run or a walk at your destination to explore the neighborhood. Bring a jump rope with you to fit in a quick cardio workout.

With the Family: Go on a hike or a bike ride. Play a game of football in the front yard. Start a game of tag and involve everyone. Playing actively with the kids for an hour can burn up to 350 calories.

Nutrition

Eating wholesome foods will help keep your mood balanced and help you avoid dreaded holiday weight gain. Don't be afraid to indulge in high calorie foods and sweets—but pick treats that you can only have this time of year and enjoy small portions. Your energy level and waistline will thank you.

At a Party: Pick a low-calorie cocktail—like a glass of wine or a light beer and alternate alcoholic drinks with water Eat a light, healthy snack before the party to avoid getting too drunk, too fast; a snack will also curb your hunger and let you indulge in the party platter without overdoing it.  

As a Host: If you're cooking a meal, find healthy substitutions; use whole wheat flour in baked goods, olive oil to saut?, and leaner cuts of meat. Offer a light appetizer such as vegetables and hummus so guests won't fill up before the main event and end up overeating. Keep the menu simple with fresh, whole foods.

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