How do you keep balance during the holiday season? Not just with the potential financial stress and the overcrowded calendar that can result this time of year, but in terms of all the food temptations that appear between Halloween and Valentine's Day. I never met a Christmas cookie or slice of pumpkin pie that I didn't like, so this year I was looking for some inspiration to battle the holiday bulge. I initially signed up for the Runner's World 39 Days of Awesome Streak -- to run at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. It all started out well, but then we got a few days of rain, the temperature dropped, and I took on a part-time holiday job. None of these worked in favor of my motivation to pull a mile every day.
So I modified -- I'm still on a good streak -- I've just brought it inside. I've gotten in 20 minutes of exercise every day since Thanksgiving even if it meant brushing the dust off some of my old favorite 20-minute aerobics videos. So far, so good. Committing to doing some form of exercise every day has also helped me combat some of the usual cravings. (I'm not kidding. There is a box of Lindt truffle balls in the cabinet and I have not touched a single one.) I love the idea of starting the new year feeling in control rather than scrambling to make up for lost time during the busy holiday season. With only 20 minutes a day, I'm feeling so ready to take 2017 head on and continue with my daily commitment.
The health professionals at ChildObesity180, a group working out of Tufts University to reverse the trend of childhood obesity, have some more simple reminders for keeping balance as we head into 2017:
- Plan ahead to make sure healthy choices are always on-hand. Meal planning for the week ahead will not only ensure that you set up healthier options for day-to-day choices, but can also become a creative outlet for families to plan together. Try a “Meatless Monday” or similar theme night to simplify planning even more.
- Build a better lunch (together). Involving kids in the cooking process can get them more excited about what’s in their lunchbox and help you avoid calorie-dense fare in favor of more wholesome options. Try packing lunch-sized portions of fruits and veggies over the weekend to streamline lunchbox prep on cold winter school mornings.
- Join the “balanced plate” club. Instead of focusing on the “clean plate club”, which can send the message that portions don’t matter, talk to kids about how to set up a balanced plate.
- Eat the rainbow. Foods that are (naturally) brightly colored are full of different antioxidants, vitamins and minerals—and they tend to be fruits and veggies. If you and your family “eat the rainbow” by including seasonal foods of every color between breakfast, lunch and dinner, you’ll be sure to get a mix of these essential nutrients.
- Move more by making family activities physical activities. It’s easy to incorporate meaningful movement into typically sedentary activities. Try doing jumping jacks, pushups, or wall sits during TV time, especially in the commercial breaks. Make household chores a game, race, or obstacle course that encourages extra steps.
- Get out of the house to limit screen time. Especially in wintertime, the snow and cold can persuade us to keep warm indoors with our favorite shows. We all know it’s important to limit screen time, but it can be hard to cut back on a habit without building a new one. Making a rule to spend more time outside as a family – even just 20 minutes each day – can give you the extra push to stick with it.
There's that 20 minutes again! Most anyone can find 20 minutes to exercise -- even if it's while you're waiting to switch the laundry, waiting for Netflix to load, or catching up on the phone. Give it a try. Get the kids involved. Little changes add up to big changes. And that's a great way to start a new year.