Healthy Holiday Food & Fitness Tips

by Aimee Alley Taylor 

Editor's Note: Aimee Alley Taylor is a Houston SuperMom with a son and daughter. She is a health coach, personal trainer and chef. She writes a healthy family living blog on her website 

      The holidays are coming. Take a deep breath and tell yourself with conviction that you are not going to do the same routine this year of go, go, go, stress, stress, stress, eat, eat, eat and then more stress because you did not enjoy your holiday and all you did was eat and stress. 
     I know that this season is a busy one, but you do not have to follow that cycle again.  If I could give you one word that would make your holiday happier and healthier it would be "PLANNING".  Planning is important for a happier healthier you in general, but especially in a time like the holidays when we are not only fighting the clock, but family, emotions, traditions, expectations, etc. 
     I want to share with you some ways planning can take the stress out of the season and add joy and gratitude back in. 
By taking the time this holiday season to plan your intentions, how you will nourish yourself with food, exercise and downtime as well as planning gratitude into your schedule, you will find that you have so much more time, energy and joy with which to truly enjoy the blessings of the season.  You will not only enjoy the season, but you will also be planning for the future, as you will welcome the New Year from a position of opportunity and gratefulness instead of one of regret, stress and pain.  
    Here are steps to plan for your future by planning now to have a healthier happier holiday.



     We set goals for work, for organizations, for our finances, so why shouldn't we set goals and intentions for a very special time of the year.  By setting intentions, you are getting clear on what you want out of the season, what is on your priority list. More importantly, you can decipher those things that are not in line with your intentions and should not take your time or energy. 
     My goal for this holiday season is to recharge my body and mind, and cherish the little things because my kids will never be three and six years old again.  Whatever your goals are for the season, write them down and keep them visible so that you can make the most of the season and start 2013 feeling energized.


     I encourage my clients to take the 90/10 approach and this is especially important during the holidays.  The 90/10 approach says that you eat foods that adds value to your health 90% of the time (mostly vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, lean protein and water) and 10% of the time you can have whatever you want even if it does not add value.  It is absolutely wonderful to celebrate and enjoy great food, but that means that you have to plan how you incorporate that into your 90/10 life. 
     If you know that you have a cocktail party on Saturday, then plan for how you will approach that event in the context of the rest of your week.  For example, "I would like to have two glasses of wine and hors d'oeuvres" so I will stay focused on adding in as many vegetables as I can throughout the week and not have a glass of wine earlier in the week."  What you don't want to do is not eat at all during the day and then think that you can drink and eat whatever you want at the event.  Part of the planning is that you have a healthy snack or light healthy meal before the event so you are not starving and then take in 1,000 calories in finger food. 
     One of my favorite "plans" when it comes to celebrations is to always have a glass of sparkling water after a glass of wine.  This helps to keep you hydrated and slows your intake of alcohol.  Most importantly, if you do eat or drink more than you should at an event, don't give up for the entire season.  Just because you make one misstep does not mean that you are doomed to failure, you just have to stay focused on your intentions and PLAN for your success.



     You may have figured out by now that you cannot exercise your way to your perfect body without making some changes to your eating habits.  That being said, exercise is critical to that process.  Your body not only looks and feels better on the inside and out when you exercise, but it actually metabolizes food differently when you exercise.  I like to say that exercise gives you a little bit of cushion when it comes to splurges.  The extra calorie burn is obviously important, but the muscle that you build is what really helps you to maintain a consistent weight even when you make less than healthy choices sometimes. 
     Again, you must plan exercise if you are going to fit it into your busy holiday schedule.  I encourage clients to put it on their calendars, and remember that it is just as important as any doctor's appointment or business meeting.  If you cannot fit in your normal 45 minutes or hour, then you can break in up into 10, 15 even 20 minute increments.  The most important thing is to get no less than 150 minutes per week of movement into schedule.  You will look and feel better and the bonus is that you will be better equipped to handle the stress of the season.


     Down time is different for everyone, but it is critical that you plan some time to do the things that nourish you.  We tend to take care of everybody else, shop for everybody else, and then we are frazzled, exhausted and quite frustrated that we are not feeling the joy of the season. 
     Make yourself a priority and schedule in time to do what you love.  Something that reenergizes me is spending uninterrupted time with my husband talking about the little stuff that we miss every day and the really big stuff that keeps us focused on our goals and values as a couple and as a family.  So, I will be sure to schedule multiple times during the holiday season to reconnect with him.  The time with him gives me the energy and desire to be a better mommy, a better wife, a better health coach, a better trainer, and a better friend.  What will you do to nourish yourself this holiday season?


     As crazy as it sounds, it really does take planning to have gratitude.  I know that if you stop for just a minute you could easily think of 10 things that you are extremely grateful for right now.  But that is the thing; do we stop and focus on gratitude that often? 
     Our family has worked this into our daily schedule by giving everyone the opportunity to say what they are most grateful for each evening at the dinner table.  I have also adopted what I encourage my clients to do, which is to write down each evening one or two things that I am most grateful for as well as who I have to be grateful for them.  Sometimes I am grateful to myself, sometimes to someone who has given me a hand and always to God, as I would have nothing without his love.  Take the opportunity to start your own gratitude practice and add more joy to your holiday and to the rest of your life.

For a FREE health consultation, contact Aimee at 832-754-7043.



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