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Staying Fit Through Festivities: A Holiday Guide to Health and Wellness

Updated: Feb 7

The holiday season is often synonymous with joy, celebration, and, let's be honest, a fair share of indulgence. It's a time when our fitness and nutrition goals tend to take a backseat, only to resurface as New Year's resolutions.

But what if we could navigate this festive period without compromising our health and wellness?

This is your comprehensive guide to staying fit through the festivities, combining smart nutrition strategies and manageable fitness tips to keep you on track.

Balancing Indulgence and Nutrition

Navigating the holiday season’s culinary delights doesn't mean you have to choose between enjoyment and health. It's all about finding a harmonious balance between indulgence and nutrition. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Prioritize Nutrient-Dense Choices: Start your meals with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These foods are not only nutritious but also filling, reducing the likelihood of overindulging in less healthy options later.

  • Plan Your Indulgences: It’s okay to enjoy the foods that are special to the holiday season. Plan for these indulgences. If you know you're going to a party in the evening, keep your daytime meals lighter and more nutrient-dense.

  • Portion Control: When faced with a plethora of food choices, it's easy to overload your plate. Use smaller plates to naturally control portion sizes, and resist the urge to go back for seconds unless you’re truly still hungry.

  • Mindful Choices: Before diving into the buffet, take a moment to survey your options. Choose the items you really want to indulge in, and skip the ones that are less appealing. This way, you're choosing quality over quantity.

  • Balance on the Plate: Aim for a plate that's balanced – a bit of everything. Some carbs, some protein, a good amount of vegetables, and yes, a little bit of that delicious holiday treat. This approach allows you to enjoy a bit of everything without feeling deprived.

  • Healthy Swaps: Consider healthier alternatives for traditional holiday foods. For instance, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips, or bake with almond flour instead of refined white flour. These small tweaks can make a big difference in nutritional content.

Smart Snacking Strategies

During the holiday season, with its abundance of treats and festivities, smart snacking can be your secret weapon to maintain a healthy balance. Here are strategies to make snacking work for you, not against you:

  • Prepare Healthy Snacks in Advance: Take time to prepare healthy snack options in advance. This could include veggie sticks with a low-fat dip, a small handful of mixed nuts, or fruit slices. Having these ready means you're less likely to grab a handful of holiday cookies when hunger strikes.

  • Mindful Snacking: It's easy to snack mindlessly, especially at social gatherings. Before reaching for a snack, pause and ask yourself if you're truly hungry. If not, you might be eating out of boredom or social habit. Listen to your body’s cues.

  • Portion Control: Just like with main meals, portion control is key in snacking. Avoid eating straight from a large bag or box. Instead, portion out a small serving onto a plate or napkin to avoid overeating.

  • Timing Matters: Try to time your snacks wisely. Eating a healthy snack before attending a holiday party can help curb hunger and prevent overindulgence in party foods.

  • Choose Protein and Fiber-Rich Snacks: Snacks that are high in protein and fiber can keep you feeling full longer. Options like a small yogurt, a piece of cheese with whole-grain crackers, or a handful of pumpkin seeds are excellent choices.

  • Hydration Check: Sometimes, we mistake thirst for hunger. Before snacking, drink a glass of water and then decide if you still feel hungry. This simple act can help you avoid unnecessary snacking.

  • Alternate Treats with Healthy Options: If you indulge in a sweet treat, balance it out with your next snack being a healthier option. This way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds without feeling deprived.

Staying Active Amidst the Celebrations

The holiday season, with its flurry of activities and gatherings, can often lead to a lapse in our regular exercise routines. However, staying active is crucial, not just for physical health, but also for mental well-being during this bustling time. Here are some tips to keep moving amidst the celebrations:

  • Incorporate Activity into Holiday Traditions: Turn holiday activities into exercise opportunities. This could be a family walk after dinner, a friendly game of football on a frosty morning, or even a dance-off at your holiday party. These activities not only burn calories but also create memorable holiday experiences.

  • Set Realistic Exercise Goals: Recognize that your regular exercise routine might be harder to maintain. Instead, set smaller, more achievable goals. A 15-minute yoga session in the morning or a quick home circuit workout can be more realistic and just as effective.

  • Utilize Shorter, More Intense Workouts: If time is scarce, opt for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. These can be done in a short period and don't require any equipment, making them perfect for busy holiday schedules.

  • Involve Family and Friends: Including family and friends in your exercise routine can be a great motivator. Whether it’s a group hike or a yoga session with a sibling, turning exercise into a social event can make it more enjoyable and less of a chore.

  • Take Advantage of New Environments: If you're traveling, explore new surroundings by foot or bicycle. This not only keeps you active but also allows you to enjoy new sights and experiences.

  • Stay Consistent: Try to maintain some level of consistency. Even small amounts of exercise are better than none. Keeping a regular schedule helps in maintaining your fitness level and makes it easier to get back into the routine post-holidays.

  • Be Kind to Yourself: Lastly, be kind to yourself. If you miss a workout, don’t be too hard on yourself. The holidays are a time for joy and relaxation, and it’s important to find a balance that works for you.

Mindful Eating: A Holiday Mantra

Mindful eating is an invaluable practice, particularly during the holiday season when we are surrounded by a plethora of food choices. It involves being fully present and aware during the eating experience, savoring each bite, and listening to your body's hunger and satiety signals. Here's how to embrace mindful eating during the festivities:

  • Eat Without Distractions: In the midst of holiday chaos, try to find a quiet moment for your meals. Eating without the distraction of television, phones, or computers allows you to fully focus on the experience of eating, enhancing your enjoyment and awareness.

  • Slow Down: Take your time with each bite. Chew slowly and thoroughly, savoring the flavors and textures. This not only improves digestion but also gives your brain time to recognize when you’re full, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

  • Engage Your Senses: Pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, and flavors of your food. Appreciating these details can create a more satisfying eating experience and prevent mindless overeating.

  • Check-In With Your Hunger Cues: Before reaching for food, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry. Sometimes we eat out of boredom, stress, or because it’s simply there. Learning to recognize true hunger can help you avoid unnecessary snacking.

  • Portion Mindfully: Start with small portions, knowing you can always have more if you're still hungry. This approach allows you to assess your hunger and fullness levels as you eat, reducing the chance of overeating.

  • Forgive Yourself: If you find yourself eating mindlessly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Acknowledge it and gently steer yourself back to mindful eating practices. It’s all part of the learning process.

Hydration is Key

Amid the flurry of holiday activities and indulgences, it's easy to overlook one of the most basic yet essential aspects of health and wellness: staying hydrated. Hydration plays a pivotal role in maintaining overall health, aiding in digestion, and even helping to manage hunger. Here are some tips to ensure you stay adequately hydrated during the festive season:

  • Carry a Water Bottle: One of the simplest ways to stay hydrated is to keep water within arm's reach. Carry a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day. This serves as a constant reminder to drink water and makes it more convenient to stay hydrated.

  • Set Hydration Reminders: In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to forget to drink water. Setting reminders on your phone or using a hydration tracking app can be a helpful way to ensure you're drinking enough water throughout the day.

  • Jazz Up Your Water: If plain water doesn’t excite you, try infusing it with fruits like lemon, lime, berries, or cucumber for a refreshing twist. Not only does this make your water more flavorful, but it also adds an extra nutritional punch.

  • Alternate Beverages Wisely: During holiday gatherings, it's common to consume alcoholic or sugary drinks. Try to alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. This not only keeps you hydrated but can also help in moderating alcohol intake.

  • Eat Water-Rich Foods: Incorporating water-rich foods into your diet can also boost hydration. Fruits like watermelon, oranges, and cucumbers have high water content and can be a delicious way to stay hydrated.

  • Monitor Your Body’s Signals: Pay attention to signs of dehydration, such as feeling thirsty, dry mouth, or fatigue. These signals indicate that your body needs more fluids.

  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can have diuretic effects, leading to increased water loss. While enjoying these beverages in moderation is fine, be mindful of their potential dehydrating effects and balance them with plenty of water.

Rest and Rejuvenate

The holiday season, while filled with joy and celebration, can also be a time of stress and exhaustion. In the midst of social gatherings, meal preparations, and gift shopping, it's crucial not to overlook the importance of rest and rejuvenation. Adequate rest is essential not just for physical health but also for mental well-being. Here are some strategies to help you rest and rejuvenate during the festive season:

  • Prioritize Sleep: Despite the busy schedule, make sleep a priority. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Create a relaxing bedtime routine to wind down, such as reading a book or practicing gentle stretches, to signal to your body that it's time to rest.

  • Take Short Breaks: During the day, especially when you're caught up in holiday preparations, take short breaks. Even a five-minute pause for deep breathing or a quick walk outside can be rejuvenating.

  • Set Boundaries: It’s okay to say no. You don’t have to attend every holiday event or meet every social obligation. Choose the activities that are most meaningful to you and politely decline the rest. This helps in managing stress and conserving energy.

  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. This could be meditation, yoga, or simply sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. These practices can significantly reduce stress and improve your overall sense of well-being.

  • Stay Organized: A lot of holiday stress comes from feeling overwhelmed. Stay organized with lists and plans. This can help you feel more in control and less stressed.

  • Indulge in Self-Care: Don’t forget to indulge in some self-care. This could be a warm bath, a hobby you enjoy, or just some quiet time with a cup of tea. Self-care is essential for mental and emotional well-being.

  • Connect with Loved Ones: Sometimes, the best way to rejuvenate is by spending quality time with loved ones. Engage in meaningful conversations, play games, or simply share stories. These moments of connection can be incredibly refreshing and heartwarming.


The holidays don't have to be a time for fitness and nutrition setbacks. With a balanced approach to eating, smart snacking, staying active, mindful eating, hydration, and adequate rest, you can enjoy the festive season without compromising your health and wellness. Remember, it's all about balance and enjoying the holidays in a way that feels good for your body and mind.


Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?

Most of us know that eating well, regular activity, and managing our sleep and stress levels are important for a healthy life. Still, we struggle to apply that information into our already busy lives. That's why the Active Wave coaching programs help you create a strategy to lose fat, get stronger, and improve your health, all in the context of your own life. We know that's the only way to keep those changes for good, no matter what situation you're in. If you'd like to chat about how you can start to change your life and reach your health and fitness goals, book a free, 10 minute call with one of our coaches today!

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