Can you believe that we have already entered the last month of 2023?
I sure can’t. I say this every year, but this one especially felt like January happened, I blinked and then we time travelled and fast forwarded to today. Time is going by at warp speed!
I know I’m not alone in feeling like this time of year is exciting, but it can be equally as overwhelming with all of the extra to-dos added to the schedule like holiday parties, shopping, events and traveling.
December is one of my favorite times of the year, but it can also like *a lot* with extra balls to juggle. And it can feel extra challenging to stay on track with nutrition and fitness goals with all of those extra commitments, outings and holiday treats loaded onto our plates (figuratively and literally, lol).
I’m all about giving myself grace and coaching you to do the same, but there are also several things you can focus on during this busy time of year to help keep you moving forward and closer to your goals. Here are ten of my top tips!
- Balance your plates with sensible portions.
If you’re dying to try your friend’s homemade cookies at a get together, just eat the cookies. Seriously. Where we start to get off the rails is thinking of those two cookies as a problem or going from having two cookies to eating a whole plate of sweets because you’re “already off track” with the cookies. Friend, this is so far off from the truth, and the key to including the treats while simultaneously hitting your goals is portion control and balance.
Instead of honing in on the all or nothing mindset, strive to find a balance in all of it that includes foods that fuel your body. Keep portions in mind, and if you can, start with veggies first and try to fill half of your plate with things like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and colorful options. Next, divide the rest into lean proteins (like chicken, fish, tofu, beans, or legumes) and whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta). By the time you finish this balanced plate, you’ll probably be too full for more than a cookie anyways.
- Fit fitness in without making it a huge deal.
Finding time for a workout in your over-scheduled day can seem impossible sometimes. During the busiest seasons, you can turn mundane tasks into workout opportunities like taking a speedy walk during your lunch break or turning cleaning up your play room into a dance party with your kids. Fitness can be strategically woven into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from entrances, do quick stretches during work breaks, or sneak in a 10-minute workout in your living room. Those short bursts of movement really add up and keep you active!
- Hydrate on-the-go.
Consider water your best friend on your journey to living a health, fit lifestyle. At minimum, you want to aim to drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, try to drink 75 ounces. This can be tricky when we’re in a “go-go-go” season, so carry a water bottle everywhere you go, refill and sip on it like it’s the secret elixir of holiday sanity.
- “Sleigh“ extra stress by managing it.
Slay is grammatically correct here, but I couldn’t resist the holiday pun. You get it. 😉
Stress is often overlooked as something that doesn’t matter, but let me tell you … it DOES. In fact, I’m getting an entire certification in how to manage stress and improve sleep and recovery. A huge takeaway so far is that ignoring stress isn’t managing it, and doing so can have long-term effects on your health. Whether it’s a short meditation, a hot bath or a even moment of deep breathing, taking five minutes to reset every day is the best gift you can give yourself.
- Make a workout session goal for the month and keep track as you go.
Anticipation is a powerful motivator! So is completion, like checking off a box once something is finished. Instead of waiting until January to “get back on track” with your routine, consider creating a countdown chart for your workouts for the month of December. For example, if your goal is twelve workouts, break that down into three workouts per week. Start with twelve and countdown to zero. Think of how motivated you will be to stick with it once you hit single digits or the halfway mark!
This can also prompt you schedule each workout into your calendar, which is something I do every week. If you’re like me, you’ll also find satisfaction in marking each completed session off after you finish. As the numbers stack up, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment throughout the madness and to-dos.
Give yourself an extra reward if you hit the goal, like a massage or pedicure. (Not food!)
- Set realistic goals.
Since we’re on the subject of setting goals, let’s make sure they’re manageable and reachable. Nobody gets motivated with a goal to complete fifty workouts in a month, right? While dreaming big is great, setting realistic and achievable goals is crucial for long-term success and motivation. Break down your fitness goals into smaller, manageable milestones. Celebrate your victories (small wins!) along the way, and don’t be too hard on yourself if your progress is slower than expected. These realistic goals create a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.
(Read my post on SMART goals for more on this!)
- Become a healthy snack ninja.
Instead of reaching for sugary snacks or high processed foods first, unleash your inner snack ninja with healthier alternatives. Keep fresh, accessible produce on hand to grab in a pinch or pack baggies to take with you on-the-go. Snacks like veggies and hummus, whole grain crackers with cheese, or apple slices dipped in peanut butter can be even more satisfying and filling than something like a frosted donut or bag of chips (mostly empty calories) because you’re getting more nutrients, vitamins and fiber.
- Be *that person* who brings the healthy side dish to a party.
I am one hundred percent this girl. There’s nothing wrong with bringing your own food or specific food you love to a party to have more control over what you’re putting on your plate. If the party calls for a side dish, consider bringing something that’s nutrient-rich like a fruit salad or veggie tray. Most people won’t bring items like this, so at least you’ll know you can add some color to your plate of yummies.
- Slow down your meal times.
In the whirlwind of daily activities, it’s easy to scarf down meals without really savoring them. (I’m totally guilty of this and have to constantly remind myself to slow down and embrace mindful eating.) Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues — eating slowly and savoring each bite can help you recognize when you’re satisfied. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and try to limit distractions like eating while watching television or scrolling your phone. Not only does this make your meals more enjoyable, but it also helps you recognize when you feel full, which prevents overeating.
- Find joy in the process.
Lastly, shift your perspective from viewing exercise and eating nutritious foods as something you “have to do” to an opportunity for self-care and personal growth. Focus on how hitting milestones like completing your water goal for the day or nailing your workout makes you feel. Enjoy the energy boost, the sense of accomplishment, and the overall well-being. When you find joy in the journey, staying on your fitness routine and fueling your body appropriately becomes a rewarding part of your everyday life.
And that will do it for now!
Thank you so much for reading, and please know that you are doing a great job today and always. I hope this post helped motivate you into tackling the busy month(s) ahead with some grace and gratitude.
Have a great holiday season!
[Photo credit: Jason Roth Photography. Brooklyn/NYC friends — he’s fantastic to work with! Feel free to message me for more information.]