The last thing that most of us want to think about while filling up our second-holiday plate or grabbing our third dessert is a holiday workout to burn off the calories. It’s easy for health and fitness routines to get pushed to the side during the festive cheer.
To build muscle, lose weight, and burn calories in the gym, many people believe you need to eat animal protein or use supplements to see results. That’s why we called in some help from our friend, a vegan fitness expert, the Fitness Queen Ohio, Meghann Reich. Meghann, a Fitness Equipment Professional, Online Fitness Coach, and Plant-Based Bodybuilder, is proof that you can build lean, strong muscle mass on a purely plant-based diet.
Here are Meghann’s top five tips for staying healthy and fit during the holidays:
Holiday Health Tip #1: Move, Move, Move
Staying active during the holidays can be challenging. With holiday fun also comes holiday indulgences that push healthy thoughts right out of our minds. It is easy to skip that holiday workout and slip into a sedentary rut while enjoying gatherings and delicious foods. That’s why Meghann’s first tip is to keep moving by doing little things to be active even if you skip a holiday workout.
“Staying active and moving around is going to be key. Exercises that increase your heart rate are great, and less strenuous activity is also good, ” says Meghann. “Take the stairs, park farther away, walk around the mall and go shopping. You can even set a reminder on your phone to move around for 10 minutes after every hour you sit. Do the little things to stay active.”
Holiday Fitness Tip # 2: Keep a Somewhat Normal Routine
The holidays have a way of disrupting life routines, including health and fitness. Factors like traveling to see family, taking time off work, eating less healthy foods, or even just experiencing the added stress that comes with this time of year will take your day-to-day flow and turn it upside-down. Meghann says it’s crucial to stay on track, even if you must get creative.
“This might be the only time you get to spend with many of your family and friends, so enjoy it. It may be hard to stick to your usual routine, but try to stay as close to it as possible. If you normally work out five days a week, work out three. If you are staying in a hotel, check to see if they have a fitness center. Remember it’s what you do MOST of the time is what matters most – so if you are a little “off” plan for a couple of days, it will not change anything. You’ve got this!” – Meghann
Holiday Health Tip # 3: Ditching Food Rules
No matter which observances you are celebrating this holiday season, the one thing that most festivities have in common is food. Food can be a uniting tradition to bring together friends, families, and even foes, but overindulging can also bring shame and guilt. Our everyday food rules have a way of becoming suggestions during the holiday season, but Meghann says that’s not necessarily a bad thing for long-term health. Don’t focus on healthy holiday eating tips; focus on lasting overall health.
“I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as “bad” or “good” when it comes to diet,” Meghann states. “All foods can fit! Some foods have more nutritional value than others, but you’re not “bad” when you want to eat something with less nutritional value. When we put a moral value on foods, what’s meant to nourish us becomes associated with guilt.”
“De-mystifying holiday foods and permitting yourself to eat whatever you want helps you achieve better control of your food choices. This season, I will mindfully indulge, knowing I never limit or deprive myself, whether it’s the holidays or not. Therefore, I will choose portions that make me feel my best and crave more nutritious foods because getting rid of food rules will stop the want-what-you-can’t-have allure that comes with labeling foods as “off-limits.””
Holiday Health Tip #4: Making Time for Yourself
Everyone needs some time to decompress, especially during the holiday season. Keeping up with a self-care routine is the perfect way to de-stress while getting the most joy out of any celebrations. Meghann’s fourth tip is to take time for yourself.
“The holiday season can usually feel rushed, busy, and crowded. While I’m most excited to be with my loved ones and spend time with my family, I am also going to give myself time to be alone,” says Meghann. “Making time for self-care (even during times when I’m not focusing on myself) will help keep stress levels low and improve how connected I feel to my body.”
Holiday Health Tip #5: Getting Extra Sleep
Sleep is rarely the first consideration when discussing health and fitness, but getting enough is essential. Regular sleep routines may suffer from all the changes the holidays bring, and instead of extra rest, we get tired. Meghann’s fifth tip explains why getting enough sleep during the holidays also impacts our food choices.
“Getting enough quality sleep is beneficial for many reasons, like improving mood and energy. Plus, sleep will help with making better food decisions. Cravings (especially sugar cravings) can be worsened by lack of sleep, so if you’re not getting a good 7-9 hours, that gingerbread cookie or pumpkin pie could sound a lot more appetizing. Bottom line: the holidays are a time of laughter and family, but I’m also using them as a time to rest and restore.”
Staying Healthy During the Holidays
Health and fitness are not just about our physical bodies but also our hearts and minds. It’s okay to skip that holiday workout or eat more high-calorie foods than you usually would. Don’t let those things become an excuse to quit holiday fitness altogether. Follow these five healthy tips for the holidays from Meghann and enjoy a happy festive season.