December, already? How did your health goals fare in 2017?

By Joan Bahr, MS RD CDE BC-ADM – Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Southwest Health

December, already?  With the end of 2017 approaching, now is a good time to reflect on the past year and plan for 2018.

The start of a new year is a popular time for setting new health and fitness goals.  How did your goals fare during 2017?  Did you start with a bang and then gradually decrease to less and less?   Or maybe you hit your goals right out of the park, achieving more improvement than you had even planned?  Or possibly your goals have become more important than ever due to a health-related event or condition?  The good news is – while health and fitness goals are a popular New Year’s resolution, they can be initiated or improved at any time during the year, meaning your health doesn’t have to wait!

December – with all of the busy holiday preparations, family get-togethers, and shopping, HOW CAN WE MAINTAIN OUR HEALTH AND FITNESS GOALS?  Let’s review some basic health/fitness habits and share some ideas.

1. Maintain healthy meal habits

  • VARIETY: Using the plate method, divide your plate into quarters – one quarter for each food choice:  protein; starch selections (potato, rice, noodles, or quinoa); vegetables; and fruit selections.  Finish off the meal with a glass of low-fat milk – or water.  Portion control during the holidays is the most important habit.
  • PORTION CONTOL: All foods fit into a healthy lifestyle.  Instead of telling yourself to never have frosted sugar cookies during the year, have one occasionally and savor the flavor.  Never have eggnog except during the holidays? Enjoy a small serving. While maintaining your healthy meal choices throughout the holidays, there is room for the occasional sweet or special food items to enjoy. Allowing yourself to indulge a little will help you stay on track.
  • HYDRATION: Water remains the best beverage for promoting health.  Vary the water by adding fruit or vegetable pieces, a small amount of juice, or a squirt of lemon or lime juice for flavor.  Maintain a goal of 8 – 8 oz. glasses per day.  Besides maintaining hydration, adequate water will keep hunger at bay during the long shopping days, decrease the number of “fast food” stops during the long days, and help you maintain a calm demeanor.
  • MEALS: The tendency is to skip meals in preparation of the “big holiday meal.” Skipping meals increases the impulse to eat larger portions at the gathering.  Continue to eat meals, cutting back on the quantity but not skipping the meal completely.  Without a ravenous appetite, portions and selections will be easier to manage.
  • ALCOHOL: Alcohol in moderation is the goal for the holiday season.  Goal – 1 drink per day for females, 2 drinks per day for males.  Excess alcohol at a gathering can derail intentions for healthy food choices and increase the number of calories consumed.

2. Maintain activity goals

  • Not able to go to the gym as often? Do not throw your habits out for the entire month; go to the gym when able or do what you can from home.
  • Increase “daily activity” habits.  Park farther away from the entrance to the store, use the steps instead of the escalator/elevator, walk around the house during commercials, play with children, or go for a walk.

3. Avoid/decrease stress

  • Remember you are important to your family and circle of friends.  Take care of yourself.
  • Assess the plans for the holidays – Is everything necessary?  Excess decorations, holiday baking, or shopping? Take an inventory of your plans, prioritize important tasks, and consider tasks that can be decreased/eliminated.
  • Sleep.  Adequate amounts of sleep will also help maintain positive coping skills.  Sleep deprivation can lead to increased hunger, poor concentration skills, more illness, and impaired problem solving.  Aim for seven hours of sleep per night.
  • Enjoy the people around you!  Instead of concentration on the frills, enjoy conversations with family members and friends.  If family and friends travel from far away, concentrate on sharing the year’s memories.

4. Reflect on the past year

  • A grateful heart is a happy heart.  Share yourself with your family and friends through visits, small gifts, holiday baking, or over-due telephone calls.
  • At the end of the day, reflect on the positives of the day.  Keep a journal or log – the positive thoughts will keep you focused during this busy time of year.

Happy Holidays!  Share the goodness that you have to offer.

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