The most wonderful time of year is officially upon us! I know that I truly love gatherings with friends and family, and all of the special holiday traditions. However, along with the feasts, the parties, and the tidings and cheer comes the inevitable stress, travel, and departure from the routines that help our guts and immune systems stay balanced and healthy the rest of the year. We often worry about how the decadent food and over-imbibing will affect our waistlines, but don’t put the necessary focus on our overall health and wellness. Here are a few habits to focus on to have your healthiest holiday season yet!
1. Prioritize your sleep! Getting adequate sleep each night is crucial for immune support, stress relief and overall well-being. Try to stick with your normal sleep schedule as much as possible, and give yourself an adequate sleep opportunity each night – meaning that you are in bed for at least 8 hours, with screens turned off!
2. Eat your veggies! Aim for a minimum of 5-6 fist sized servings of veggies every
day, and prioritize consuming a variety of sources. This will help ensure that you are consuming adequate levels of the micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) and fiber that are necessary for optimal gut and immune health!
3. Stay hydrated! ‘Tis the season when we tend to participate in holly jolly shenanigans and over-imbibe just a tad… so make sure that you are hydrating! Aim for a minimum of half of your body weight in ounces of hydrating fluids (water and milk) each day — Egg nog doesn’t count! Add to this if you are exercising. A good rule of thumb for those holiday parties is to alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water… chances are you will be peeing so often, you won’t have time to be over-served!
4. Move! Try to stick with your regularly scheduled training sessions and then give yourself a general movement goal (ex: 10K steps) for each day. Getting up and
moving around a little more will not only increase calories burned through NEAT, (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) but it will aid in digestion and stress relief!
5. Activate your PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System)! As much fun as this time of year can be, it is stressful and can cause our Sympathetic Nervous System (responsible for our “fight or flight” response) to go into overdrive…making time for activities that get you to slow down, breathe deeply and relax will go a long way in activating the PNS, which will mitigate stress and the immune system havoc it can wreak. Go to a yoga class, read a book, take an easy walk in the woods… whatever it is the helps you chill, do it!
I hope that by implementing these habits now you will stay healthy throughout the holiday season and beyond! This wonderful time of year is really about spending time with family and friends and enjoying the traditions that bring us all together, and prioritizing your health and wellness is the best way to maximize your time spent enjoying these special people!
Wishing you a happy & healthy holiday season!
This article was written by Coach Jackie Iannoni, NSCA-CSCS, FMS-1, PN-1