Use the Holiday Season to Jumpstart Your Healthy Resolutions
Whether you’re seeking to lose weight next year or want to add more exercise into your weekly routine, there’s no need to wait for 2024. Get started on those healthy resolutions this holiday season.
Looking for a place to begin? Start with this advice from Rachel Stahl Salzman, MS, RD, CDN, CDCES lecturer in medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Weill Cornell Medicine.
“Keep it simple,” Stahl Salzman says. “Everyone is ready to jump on board with elaborate diets and meal plans and supplements. I encourage you to think about what you are currently doing that might be inhibiting your general health goals. Starting from there is the first step.”
Choosing the Right Goals for Your Healthy Resolutions
You’re ready to take steps toward becoming a healthier version of yourself, but what does that look like? To find success and become healthier and stronger, you’ll need to set realistic, achievable goals.
“It’s important to set goals that are SMART,” Stahl Salzman says. “That’s an acronym with S for specific, M for measuring, A for attainable or achievable, R for relevant and T for time-bound. This provides a framework to help you follow up on goals.”
Once you’ve determined an overarching goal, such as eating healthier, break it down into smaller goals. For example, first work toward incorporating more vegetables into your meals. Once you’ve mastered that habit, then consider adding in meat-free days each week. Keep adding new goals as you find success.
We traditionally set healthy resolutions at the first of a new year. Let’s face it, though—starting off a new calendar year with a large set of goals can sometimes be overwhelming. Practicing your new habits during the holiday season helps set you up for success.
4 Habits for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season
Practicing healthy habits during the holidays can help you feel healthier, mentally and physically, during what can be a stressful time of year. Not only will you have a jump on your healthy resolutions, but you’ll also simply find it easier to make it through the holidays.
Start with these habits:
1. Eat regular meals.
It may be tempting to skip lunch if you know there’s a holiday feast ahead for dinner, but it’s not the best plan.
“Going to parties famished can often lead to people overeating,” Stahl Salzman says. “Have normal, well-balanced meals throughout the day. Maybe even have a small high-protein snack right before you go, so that you may be less tempted to indulge.”
2. Quench your thirst wisely.
The adage not to “drink your calories” comes into play even more often during the holiday season.
People often forget that holiday cocktails and mocktails and other alcoholic drinks can contain a lot of calories and a lot of added sugar. Research also shows that drinking alcohol can lower your inhibitions and make you more likely to eat more. Keep your drinking in moderation, with no more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women and two for men.
3. Schedule in exercise.
The holiday season is busy, so you’ll need to carve out time for yourself and keeping yourself healthy. This is a good habit to establish before the new year rolls around.
Schedule in exercise sessions on your calendar, and treat those workouts like you would any other appointment. Don’t cancel on yourself. Your health will thank you.
4. Slow down and hit pause.
This sentiment is a good one for the holiday season! Pause often and take a few minutes to simply slow down and breathe. This can help you manage stress more effectively. Pausing is also a good habit for healthy eating.
“Pause and slow down, savor that time with others and take breaks between bites,” Stahl Salzman says. “Take a sip of water between bites. It often takes, research says, 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it’s full. Give yourself that time to digest the meal, to help your body notice whether it’s actually still hungry.”
Looking for an expert to help you manage your health this holiday season? Find a doctor at Weill Cornell Medicine.