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5 tips to stay focused on health this holiday

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 19:36:16-05

He’s a mean one, alright. If the Grinch has stolen your healthy holiday, try these five simple holiday tips to keep your holiday happiness and your heart (and family) healthy: 

  1. Go in with a plan. For example, make a pact with yourself during the holidays: “During the holidays, I will get at least 30 minutes of activity per day, I’ll have a reasonably healthy breakfast and lunch and limit the sweets. And I’ll leave my meds out on the dresser so I won’t leave the house without having taken them.” Then return to your usual heart-healthy routine (if you have one) once the holidays are over.
     
  2. Beware of party perils. Special holiday events often serve up extra helpings of high-fat foods. Too many sugary or salty treats can be a concern for those with high blood pressure or hypertension, secondhand smoke is a concern for everyone and events that run late into the night mean that you won’t be too enthusiastic about exercising. If you’re a guest, plan on eating a healthy snack before you go and consciously choose to eat less at the event. If you’re the host, or taking a dish to the party, challenge yourself to whip up a delicious and heart-healthy menu item(s).  Your guests/friends will probably thank you for the healthy option. 
     
  3. Stay active — even in the hustle and bustle of the season. Sprinkle in some healthy behaviors with your daily activities. For example, here in Phoenix since the weather isn’t too frightful – in fact it’s beautiful – park your car a little further away.  If dinner is going to be a feast, opt for a light lunch, then take a vigorous walk or a hike. And pick up the pace on family activities. When the kids are home from school, squeeze in some active chores and trips to the park.
     
  4. But not too active. Give yourself the gift of peace. When the invitations pile up, if you can’t say no, it’s not fun — cardiovascular-ly, cognitively or socially. Hold your own schedule and don’t overbook yourself.  Also, find some time to relax with yoga or a good book…..a little “you” time.  
     
  5. Lay out a plan for January, February and beyond. Your poinsettia’s pooped and the eggnog’s gone. Now what? It’s great that you want to start doing healthy things — like exercising 30 minutes a day or making an appointment to get your blood pressure checked — but don’t go dashing through your to-do list too fast or you might not stick to your plan. Lay out realistic steps for the months ahead. For example, instead of joining a gym, you might want to start a vigorous walking program first. It’s free, and it’s a great way to fit in more physical activity.