At this time of year, websites are crammed with survival guides for wellness over the holidays. As an avid athlete, I’ve often found such advice, even from fitness sites, to be… well… unhelpful. Too many articles oversimplify the challenges or offer suggestions that are catered to those who are young and independent, rather than stressed adults with families and responsibilities.
So, looking for better recommendations, I spoke with Dietrich about advice for his readers and how he embodies that advice in his own life. He had some insightful ideas, which I hope you’ll find as helpful as I do.
#1 ~ Start from a Mindset of Gratitude
Dietrich reminded me that a positive outlook is a key to happiness at the holidays and throughout the year. Focus on those people and things for which you are truly grateful, rather than being absorbed with what you lack (time, money, or easy-going relatives). Gratitude is the spirit of the season, reduces stress, and keeps your life in perspective.
#2 ~ Be a Positive Force for a Healthy Lifestyle at the Holidays
Dietrich suggests inviting those you celebrate with to participate in healthy activities with you. You might bring healthy foods as your contribution to holiday gatherings, encourage others to join you on a walk after dinner, volunteer to help with chores, or arrange active excursions like sledding or ice-skating for the family. I’ve often gotten in a ‘workout’ just by helping my relatives with physically demanding chores!
#3 ~ “Enough is as Good as a Feast”
I also asked Dietrich about the challenges of maintaining good nutrition over the holidays. For some, the holidays can be a time of overindulgence. Dietrich said he avoids over-eating by monitoring his portions, pacing himself, and eating until he’s comfortable. He pointed out that he “always leaves room for the next meal”.
On the other hand, for those of us who are very active, the holidays can bring the opposite problem: being hungry. This is a particular concern when meals are planned by others. For example, my husband and I consume more calories/day than a lot of our family members. (Many a Christmas Eve has seen me sneaking into the kitchen for more food!) Dietrich says it’s essential for highly active people to stock up on healthy, high protein snacks to eat when we’re hungry between meals rather than filling the gap with cookies and pie. After a bit of advocating, our families now lay in supplies of fruit, hummus, and Greek yogurt for our visits.
#4 ~ Enjoy the Holidays as a Time of Rest
The holidays can easily be a time of great stress rather than great joy. Many of us feel like we get swept up in festive activities and have limited control over our health. Dietrich pointed out that making a plan for your wellness during this season is essential. But, he underlined the importance of being realistic. Some of us, with a little forethought, can maintain our usual fitness schedule. But for others, travel, family obligations, entertaining, and childcare make the usual regimen impossible.
Dietrich advises carving out time each, 10-15 minutes, for light activity (i.e. active rest). For example, he and his wife take time to walk their dog after meals in order to fit in exercise. Stretching, yoga, walking and swimming can all help calm your body and center your mind. Dietrich emphasized the fact that light activity helps reduce holiday stress and makes this season more enjoyable, AND active rest enables you to come back to your usual routine even stronger.
Remember, the holidays are about joy and gratitude. D21 is here in person and online to help support your health and fitness before, during, and after this festive season! Happy Holidays!
The contents of this article & website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer individualized medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have about medical conditions. Always adhere to advice given to you by a medical professional, even if it is different from the information provided on this website.