Many people feel as if they face a choice: They can either enjoy the holidays or they can focus on their health, but they can’t do both.
Luckily, that’s a myth. You can have it both ways. The key is to show yourself some holiday kindness. Pat yourself on the back when you choose more vegetables or go for a walk. And cut yourself some slack if you eat too much at one meal or skip a workout one day. You can always get back on track for the next meal or day.
Here’s the truth about four other common myths.
Myth: The holiday is ruined if something doesn’t go as planned.
Reality: Everyone has their own idea of what a “perfect” holiday is—and no one has ever lived it. In real life, setbacks happen and that’s OK. A burned dish or broken ornament is only one part of the whole holiday experience. Remind yourself about all the things that are going right, such as being together with family and friends.
Myth: You have to give up your favorite holiday foods to eat healthier.
Reality: You can eat what you love and still make healthier choices. Take smaller portions. Include fruits and vegetables on your plate. Look for low-fat or non-dairy eggnog, unsweetened apple cider, unsalted nuts, whole-grain crackers, and low-calorie dips. Aim to hold the line at your current weight, rather than stressing about trying to lose weight during the holidays. Have a light snack before going to a party so you won’t be famished and overdo it. If you indulge in a little treat, make it count. Decide which treat you really want, and which ones you can skip. For example, you might have a half-slice of pie but skip the whipped cream.
Myth: Being active is hopeless if you don’t have time for long workouts.
Reality: Any amount of physical activity is helpful. Walk or bike to get around when you can. Get up a half hour early so you can fit it in. If you drive or take the bus, park farther away or get off at an earlier stop to walk a little more. Walk a few extra laps around the store while you shop. Play active games with your kids. Get up and move around during the ads while watching TV. Reconnect with family by making a holiday hike or post-meal walk a new tradition.
Myth: Feeling stressed and frazzled is unavoidable over the holidays.
Reality: The holiday season can get hectic. Sometimes, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family is to relax and recharge. Make time for the things you find calming, such as listening to music, reading a book, practicing yoga, or talking with a good friend.