Health Hints for Hectic Holidays

The holidays sure to have a way of getting us off track, don’t they? Maintaining a routine through the holiday season is difficult for even a “professional planner” and for those with diet “resolve of steel” – so don’t get down on your self for a momentary indiscretion or two. It’s important that we “Modern Moms” resign ourselves to doing what we can, when we can in the context of our overriding priorities – and make it OK emotionally. Meaning, give yourself “permission” rather than guilt for doing what you know is right, such as spending your very limited, but quality time with your child(ren) after a long work day.

It’s important to figure out what CAN be done to stay on track during decidedly hectic times like this, and make the most of these opportunities since they are overcompensating for a lack of effort elsewhere (due to minimal time and energy).

Here are a few of the things that even the busiest Modern Mom “should” be able to do during the hectic holidays, even with a busy work, travel, family and all things holiday schedule, some courtesy of eDiets’ nutrition experts:


o Eat “clean”. Yes, I KNOW those dog-gone holiday baskets are everywhere (especially in the workplace), but with a lessened fitness regime your health-seeking/weight-loss efforts will depend on your ability to keep your calorie intake to reasonable levels. Chewing a mint flavored gum (which will make chocolate and other things not taste as good) or sucking on hard sugar free candy can help you resist those temptations. Or, enjoy a mug of sugar/fat free hot chocolate or a low-fat oatmeal and fruit cereal bar at your desk, instead! Don’t just deprive yourself – make some kind of reasonable trade!! Again, you just need to plan ahead and have your emergency foods readily available. If you make only one list per week, make it a healthy grocery list and stick to it!

o Eat small, healthy meals every 2.5-3 hours or so rather than just a few large meals. Doing so will keep you sated throughout the day so that you’re not ravenous at mealtime, which may cause you to overeat or eat calorie-laden foods, and will keep your metabolism humming. And, be sure NOT to skip meals because you’re so busy. While you think you’re saving on the calories and don’t mind, you’re actually slowing down your metabolism, which has to “stretch” the energy derived from your last meal over a longer period of time. If your body comes to “expect” new fuel sources more often, it’ll burn off what it gets quicker.

o Drink your water – and lots of it!! (no matter how many trips to the ladies room it will require) Your body is made up primarily of water and while water does not have calories to provide energy, it contributes to weight loss and assisting your digestive system. Ample water will keep the toxins flowing right out of your body.

o Enjoy heart healthy “winter” foods: Soups are great… convenient, healthy and delicious. Make a fresh vegetable soup with all your favorite root vegetables…sauté in a nonstick pot onions and garlic, then add water or low sodium canned vegetable broth, chunked potato, celery root and carrots. Season with dried herbs and pepper, and enjoy as a meal with some whole grain bread, or as a snack. Stews can be made with healthy root vegetables and lean meat. The secret to a healthy stew is not adding fat to the food! Braise the meat without added fat in a nonstick skillet, drain off the fat, and slow cook with carrots, onions and garlic. And, citrus fruits are at their peak in the winter! Florida oranges and grapefruit are best enjoyed peeled…the fiber in the whole fruit is the most beneficial. Remember, it takes at least 5 oranges to make an 8 ounce glass of orange juice…and you wouldn’t peel and eat 5 oranges in one sitting…you’d be full after one or two! So, enjoy your citrus fruit…whole.

o Just before going to any holiday party, eat an apple with a full glass of water so that the fiber will keep your appetite at bay. Go ahead and “sample” the party fare if you can’t seem to resist – it’s OK to allow yourself a “reasonably” sized treat once in a while, particularly in a celebratory fashion. As long as you can enjoy the modest-sized treat while maintaining complete control, you can immediately get your mindset back into “diet mode”, enjoy the event, and not feel completely deprived. Otherwise, keep a glass in your hand. If you’re holding a glass, it’s more difficult to hold a plate and eat! Take a plate of food to begin with, enjoy it, and then keep a glass in your hand for the rest of the event. And finally, don’t stand around the food table–take the foods you want and leave the area immediately!


o With your harried schedule, do what you can with the advice below during Monday-Friday, and resolve to working out for at least one hour on both Saturday and Sunday. No excuses here…if you’re skipping your workouts during the week, you need to get them in on the weekend. Optimally, you would also find a happy medium during the week, such as getting up early on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s also for a morning walk (at least).

o Try isometric exercises. These are great if you’re pressed for time or stuck in line at the supermarket. Just by flexing a few times each day, you can maintain a significant amount of muscle tightness. Simply flex those muscles whenever you are sitting in your car, standing at the bus stop or walking to the boss’s office. For example, while stuck in traffic, tighten your abdominals and hold for 60 seconds, but remember to keep breathing through your nostrils. Maybe you’re waiting in line to checking out at a store.

o Take advantage of any opportunity to exercise and engage in healthy behaviors during your workday. Here are some ideas:

o Stretch! Every hour do some arm-chair exercise. While sitting, bend over in your chair and let your arms hang down…then sit up and take five deep and slow breaths…in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

o Crunch! Every hour, do 12 “rear-end crunches”…while sitting, tighten your buttocks muscles and hold for 10 seconds. Start with 3 repetitions, and work up to 5 or more.

o Focus on your posture – While seated at your desk, consciously focus on sitting tall with your neck relaxed, shoulders back, lengthened spine, feet on the floor and abdominals tight. Maintaining good posture involves most of the muscles in your body and keeping your body in good alignment will help to retrain your muscle groups all day long. Besides practicing good posture can make you look 10 pounds lighter.

o Take 10 minute breaks every hour – Studies have shown that employees are much more satisfied and productive if they take 10 minute breaks every hour. Use that time to get up, stretch, go for a brisk walk, or do some deep breathing. Oxygenating your muscles and getting the blood pumping will keep you more alert, manage stress and help to give your metabolism a boost. Three ten minute sessions are as good as one thirty minute continuous one.

The bottom line is that there will be obstacles to achieving and maintaining your desired body weight – You may encounter a plateau or unexpected life event that may thow you off track. Remember that this is all part of the process, and while you may wander temporarily you CAN get back on track the very next day!

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