By Erika Taylor
The holidays are a perfect time to focus on fitness. I know, it sounds like I’ve been into the egg nog early. Even just our regular lives can make self-care seem like a fantasy. Add our holiday list and 20 minutes to exercise feels as real as the “prancing and pawing of each little hoof” that precedes a magical chimney visit.
But self-care can stay on the list! Not just can, must. With planning and prioritizing, those things we do to stay well can even help us bring more joy to the season for those we love most, including ourselves. I’m not just saying that to get on the “Good List.”
Why do we think that overeating, not exercising and losing sleep at this time of year are required? It is almost as if the health-club industry promotes how easy it is to get fat between Halloween and New Year’s so we’ll all give in to excuses and those same clubs will be bursting with re-resolved clients on Jan. 1.
We are bombarded with advertisements, images and examples of ways we can overindulge. Parties are largely alcohol- and sugar-fueled. Shopping trumps sleeping and perfectionism reigns supreme.
And if you can’t reach that “perfect” mark? Don’t worry. The world is overflowing with antidotes: products to help keep us slim, recover from the flu quickly, meet family gathering expectations, and deal with a whole host of other conventionally normalized holiday-related stress inducers. Read or watch enough sales pitches and you’ll probably think that gaining weight, getting sick and stressing out over the perfect gift/meal/celebration just go with the holiday territory. Why should that be?
It is true, we add things to our calendar during the holidays, but our schedules go on all year long. We have stress in our lives daily but somehow many folks make time – other times of the year – to do things that contribute to their health and then fall off as November rolls around. The lie that our health must suffer during the holidays is just that, a Santa’s belly-sized lie. And it’s a myth that needs busting.
Let’s think about the kinds of things we usually do to stay healthy:
- Move. Even two minutes of walking after a meal can help manage blood sugar and aid in digestion. Do a set of squats while wrapping. Get your niece to do it with you! Maybe even let her post it on TikTok – start a holiday wellness trend.
- Eat. Better than usual. Including holiday treats. The ones you really love. Don’t apologize to anyone for saying “no thank you” to break-room leftovers that are not the ones you love. Your generous coworker likely just needed them out of their own house. At the holiday party, I promise you can find naked veggies and lean proteins if you look hard enough.
- Hydrate. An easy one. And if you need help, there are even apps for that. I admit, I’m a Plant Nanny addict. See if you can front load your day with water and other no-sugar drinks.
- Wash your hands. Hey look, another easy one.
- Sleep. Even if it means you skip a couple workouts or those Facebook posts go unliked. I promise your real-life friends want you well rested to enjoy their company more than they want you to see how cute their cat looked in his Santa hat.
- Connect. Make dates with people who make you feel good about yourself. Spending time with friends and family members who support your healthy choices and are living the kind of wellness life you aspire to will help you remember that fitness can stay on everyone’s holiday list.
- Get support. Tell your friend you are sticking to club soda at the office party and join your kids in that snowball fight. Make your holiday Girls Night a yoga class instead of a happy hour. Take your neighbor for a walk or join our Walking Accountability Crew every Monday, Wednesday and Friday leaving from Sloans Lake Pirate Park at 9:15 a.m. I promise, the people you include in your healthy holiday will thank you.
We can do this! Keep making choices you can feel good about and keep giving your beautiful body what it needs. We’ll finish off this year feeling great and head into New Year’s Resolution Season miles ahead of the game.
Holidays are the season of believing. Believe that you can make the holidays your healthiest and most truly wonderful time of the year. Celebrate the ways you win at that and remember the other equally important message of this season: grace and gratitude. Let’s give ourselves grace when we miss the mark, and practice gratitude wherever we can find it. Not because it’s easy, but because that is how we learn to truly give those things to each other too.
Wishing you wellness this holiday season and always,
Erika Taylor is a community wellness instigator at Taylored Fitness, the original online wellness mentoring system. Taylored Fitness believes that everyone can discover small changes in order to make themselves and their communities more vibrant, and that it is only possible to do our best work in the world if we make a daily commitment to our health. Visit facebook.com/erika.taylor.303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.