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December Dos and Don’ts

December Dos and Don’ts

Wahoo, sugar cookie season is here!!

Oh, wait, that is not what I’m supposed to be looking forward to, right? December, though, can be tough when it comes to healthy living: it’s cold (and possibly even snowy) out; alcohol, cheese, and sugar come out in full force at holiday parties and work functions; and the temptation to give in and eat everything in sight with the plan of “starting over” on January 1st is incredibly tempting.

There’s a better way to do things though, so here are some December Dos and Don’ts to keep you on track.

Do: Find a way to stay active. This time of year I often switch over to exercise videos or a trip to the gym, and there are more options for staying active in the cold weather than you’d realize. If all of your exercise vids are on VHS and rotting in the basement, try watching a free workout on YouTube, or checking out the fitness channel your TV probably has on demand. You can also try a new-to-you indoor class, like yoga, barre, or spinning, or even join a local indoor pool. Lastly, if you really thrive being outdoors, get the right gear! The right pair of warm workout tights under your regular pants can do wonders, and there are plenty of ways to keep your head, hands, and even face warm enough to brave the cold temps.

Don’t: Forgo your favorites. It’s so easy to think that if you skip the famous triple decker fudgy waffle pie you’ll be healthier, but if you go home and eat 14 rice cakes and a half pound of dried fruit because you really, really wanted a piece of that once-a-year-only pie, you’re not doing yourself any favors. There are certain treats, especially homemade ones that really and truly only come once a year, you shouldn’t forgo if they’re important to you.

Do: Remember to savor the moment (and the food). When you have that favorite treat we just talked about? For Pete’s sake, sit down and enjoy it! And enjoy being with your family, enjoy the quiet time you have off of work (if you have it), enjoy the lights, enjoy the music, just find something to savor. Life and mental health are both better if you take a little time to slow down and enjoy the moment (and the pie).

Don’t: Throw away your progress with the hope of fresh beginning for January 1. This is a huge trap just waiting to ensnare you. There is no reason to eat as many cookies and slices of deep fried turkey as you possibly can because you’ll be “good” in a few weeks; that only sets you up for major overindulgence now and major deprivation later. A healthier and more intuitive approach is to enjoy some special things you really like throughout the year, and to honor yourself and your body with healthy foods that help you thrive throughout the year, as well. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Do: Come up with a plan. You might have six holiday gatherings, your kid’s dance recital, and a cookie swap to navigate over the next two weeks, so you’ll need a plan. Dr. Traci Mann suggests an “if-then” statement for this type of situation, such as, “If I’m at a holiday party, then I’ll hold a cup of seltzer in one hand and a cocktail napkin in the other.” That way, your hands are both occupied, you have something to drink, and it would take effort to get something to eat (since both of your hands are full). Or maybe, “If I go to the cookie swap, I’ll eat two cookies, then put the rest away to send to family and friends.” No matter what, decide ahead of time what you’ll do, think about the possible obstacles that will stand in your way, then come up with a few ways to deal with them.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.