Creating Healthy Holiday Habits

Categories: Fitness
Cue the holiday magic, and sometimes, madness! Between shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating, cleaning for guests, and traveling, this season can be more than a bit stressful. We checked in with two experts at Orlando Health for tips on creating healthy holiday fitness, nutrition, and wellbeing habits. You can celebrate your favorite traditions and enjoy sweet treats, while keeping your health goals on track!
Walking in a Workout Wonderland!

Let’s hear from Emily Headley, MS, EP-C, RYT-200, an Exercise Physiologist with the Orlando Health Center for Health Improvement:

  • Between holiday shopping, wrapping gifts, and cleaning for guests, how can folks be sure to fit a workout in?

As your schedule gets more hectic, planning is going to be your best friend.  Look at your commitments for the week and the time that you would be able to incorporate more movement into your day.  Put these into your calendar as “appointments” so you don’t accidentally over-schedule yourself.

A simple way to squeeze a workout into your busy day is by taking “movement breaks”.  Instead of trying to fit a long workout session into your busy schedule, try breaking it into smaller, more manageable pieces.  Add a ten-minute walk after each meal – that’s 30 minutes of exercise!

  • What are simple tips to add more movement to your day?

A fun challenge to add more movement into your day is to take everyday tasks and find ways to make them active.  Taking a lot of calls at work?  Try standing instead of staying seated.  Hitting the shopping centers for those last-minute gifts?  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  While brushing your teeth, do some air squats or calf raises.  Driving to get your morning cup of joe?  Walk or bike to your favorite coffeeshop instead!

Where possible, involve your friends and family.  Instead of watching TV after dinner, try going for a walk with your spouse.  Go outside and kick around a ball with your kids.  This is a great way to encourage them to be more active, while getting you moving too!

Remember, ANY movement is better than NO movement!

  • How can someone stay motivated and not get discouraged if they miss a workout?

The holidays can bring along added stress to your busy life.  But missing a workout doesn’t put you on the naughty list.  Just like you aren’t going to achieve all your fitness goals in one workout, you are also not going to lose all your progress from missing a day.  Results are seen from consistency over a long period of time and giving yourself permission to occasionally miss a day will not inhibit your overall improvement.

Whatever you do, don’t give up!  Allow yourself some grace and try again for your next scheduled workout.

May your holidays be balanced and bright!

Note these nutrition tips from Sara Riehm, RD, LD/N, CSOWM, registered, licensed dietitian with the Orlando Health Center for Health Improvement:

  • Is it possible to eat healthy during the holidays while still enjoying all the treats?

Enjoying treats is an important part of the holiday season. It’s okay to enjoy these yummy foods occasionally. All foods can fit into a healthy diet. Whenever eating foods that are high in sugar, fat, or sodium, try to monitor your portion size and fill your plate with nutrient dense foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits as often as possible.

  • How can I stay motivated to make healthy choices, even if I’ve “slipped up” during holiday feasts?

“Slip ups” and lapses in a nutrition plan are normal. It’s difficult to follow a strict diet all the time—especially when we’re away from home or eating someone else’s cooking. Keep your goals in focus and try to make healthier choices wherever you can during the holidays. Seek out fruits and vegetables to fill your plate with. Reduce the portion size of foods you know are rich in salt, sugar, or fat. However, even if you have too much, it’s okay! Remember, you can always try again tomorrow. One meal or day of unhealthy foods should not derail your overall plan.

  • What are some healthy substitutions for salt, butter, oil, and other common ingredients in holiday dishes?

Sodium (salt) can impact our blood pressure. Try to minimize seasoning food with salt and look to other spices for flavoring. You can also use lemon or lime juice to enhance flavor without extra sodium. Additionally, if any recipes call for canned goods (such as canned green beans for a green bean casserole), seek out a “Low Sodium” or “No Salt Added” version. Most brands carry a heart healthy version of their canned items.

When cooking, try to use olive oil instead of butter. Butter contains saturated fat than can raise cholesterol. Olive oil contains unsaturated fats that promote heart health. Even though plant-based oils are a healthier choice than butter or coconut oil, they contain a lot of calories and should be used sparingly whenever possible.

For desserts that use butter, try using a banana instead. You can use ½ as much mashed banana as butter and add more if the texture is too dry. Alternatively, if a recipe calls for melted butter, you can use apple sauce in the same amount as a replacement.

Wishing you Happy, Healthy Holidays from Healthy West Orange and Orlando Health!

About the Author

Sara Riehm, RD, LD/N, CSOWM is a registered, licensed dietitian with the Orlando Health Center for Health Improvement. Sara is a board-certified obesity and weight management specialist and is passionate about disease prevention and nutrition education. She has been welcomed as a guest speaker for several events and local news programs and enjoys every opportunity to discuss evidence-based nutrition information with the community.

About the Author

Emily Headley, MS, EP-C, RYT-200 is an Exercise Physiologist with the Orlando Health Center for Health Improvement.  She obtained her Master of Science in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology from the University of Florida and is credentialed through the American College of Sports Medicine and Yoga Alliance.  Emily enjoys working with chronic disease prevention and intervention through educating the community on practical ways they can modify lifestyle behaviors and increase physical activity.

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