How to Actually Stay Healthy This Month—Without Depriving Yourself
A no-guilt, zero deprivation, totally doable plan for celebrating the season without packing on pounds.
No one expects you to choose kale juice over cocktails at the holiday party. And happily, you can enjoy the occasional treat without sabotaging your goals, says Lisa Powell, RDN, director of nutrition at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona: "The key is a plan that’s flexible." Stay on track through New Year’s with these tips for each day of the month, starting December 1st.
1. Keep a planner. “Map out your holiday activities in advance,” says nutritionist Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, so you can decide when you want to indulge.
2. Reframe expectations. Accept that you won’t be able to work out every day this month and commit to a schedule that’s as realistic as possible.
3. Power down early. “You’ll be amazed at how a full night’s rest can help you stick to your health routine all week,” says Rachel Begun, RDN.
4. Brown-bag it. Pack last night’s leftovers for lunch today. “That way you won’t fall victim to extra calories in an ordinary workday restaurant meal,” says Bazilian.
5. Squeeze in a workout. Do one minute of jumping jacks, three minutes of sit-ups, and one minute of pushups, then repeat, says SoulCycle senior master instructor Stacey Griffith.
6. Barre > bar. “Meeting friends for drinks? Make it a sweat party instead,” says celebrity trainer Kira Stokes. Sign your squad up for a fitness class.
7. Beat the buffet. “Humans are wired to eat what’s available,” says Powell. Fill most of your plate with colorful veggies, add a serving of protein, and enjoy the food in another room to avoid grazing.
8. Plank it out. When wrapping gifts, do a one-minute plank between boxes, suggests Stokes. All exercise counts!
9. Cut yourself a break. If you have zero time for fitness, don’t fret. Missing one workout won’t change your body, says Funtensity founder Jonathan Ross.
10. #SundayMealPrep. Roast chopped veggies tossed with seasoning and olive oil at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. “They can be reheated for three to four days,” says Powell.
11. Have water at dinner. Cut out wine for a week and you can shave off 500 to 1,000 calories, says exercise physiologist Jim White, RD.
12. Sweet swap. Observing Hanukkah? Make your latkes with sweet potatoes instead of white spuds for an extra dose of fiber and antioxidants.
13. Climb. Run stairs for five minutes.
14. Count your steps. Don’t have a fancy gadget? You can download a free app like Pacer. Monitoring your daily activity helps keep you accountable.
15. Permission to sip. It’s Friday! Enjoy a glass of your favorite red. It’ll only set you back about 125 calories, and you’ll get a hit of the antioxidant resveratrol.
16. Nosh responsibly. At a cocktail party? Choose shrimp cocktail or stuffed mushrooms, says Bazilian. “Both picks are nourishing and tasty—and for relatively few calories.”
17. Get out. “Exercise shouldn’t feel like drudgery or just be a certain number of reps at the gym,” says Ross. Choose an enlivening activity that can be done in fresh air, like ice skating.
18. Souper Monday. Cook a big batch of soup, like butternut squash or carrot puree, says Powell. Freeze individual servings, then reheat later and add fun toppings.
19. Book a sweat session. Sign up for a nonrefundable class and invite a friend along. “You won’t let down someone you care about. It’s double motivation,” says Griffith.
20. 1-Minute Wednesday. Stokes’s favorite 60-second workout: 20 seconds of squats, 20 seconds of burpees, 20 seconds of mountain climbers. Done.
21. Chill out. Give yourself a break today and recharge for the weekend ahead.
22. Travel smarter. Headed out of town? Pack high-protein snacks so you’re not stuck with airport food.
23. Get fit in the kitchen. Turn the countertop into a barre: With feet parallel, ears over shoulders, and a slight tuck to the tailbone, bend knees to create tension in your thighs. Pulse for 30 seconds.
24. Find your center. Before the festivities begin, try this breathing exercise: Inhale for 10 seconds, hold for 10, and exhale for 10; pause, then repeat.
25. Forget your rules. If you celebrate Christmas, let yourself enjoy it without an ounce of guilt. One day won’t affect your waistline, says Ross.
26. #LegDay. Do 10 chair squats, lowering your butt onto a seat and then driving up through your heels. Sitting and standing fires up your glutes, says Stokes.
27. Take a day off. You’ve earned a rest. Soak it up with some well-deserved self-care. DIY mani-pedis, anyone?
28. Get cooking. Slim down chili by swapping ground beef for lean turkey.
29. Lunge outside. Do walking lunges down the driveway. You’ll strengthen those stems while getting a mood boost from the sunlight.
30. Get sweaty. Do a full workout. The best part, aside from how you’ll feel afterward? There’s a champagne reward tomorrow.
31. Have fun. Ring in 2018 exactly how you want to. (Your resolutions don’t start until tomorrow!)