Don’t let rich foods and special gatherings break your cycle of healthy living.
During this season of culinary excess, it can be challenging to stick with your healthy routine. There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence as long as it’s kept from spiraling out of control.
Dr. Sean Hashmi, a Kaiser Permanente leader of Adult Weight Management in Southern California, says it’s important for people to remain mindful of their goals and past successes to keep them on track when temptations arise.
“Motivation is what gets you started. But habit is what keeps you going and ensures your success,” Hashmi says. “It’s just food. You want to take care of yourself by making sure to practice the other things that set you up for success.”
At family gatherings and parties, Hashmi says it helps if you have a few family members or friends there to help you resist those temptations.
“It can be hard to say no, especially when we’re facing large groups of loved ones and friends,” Hashmi says. “There is strength in numbers. That’s why it’s important to have somebody on the same team as you.”
Set yourself up for success with these simple tips:
SLEEP: Get at least seven hours and try to wake and go to bed at the same time every day.
EXERCISE: Get 30 minutes a day, preferably in the morning or midday to kick-start your metabolism.
LOVE: Have feelings of gratitude for everything you have, do and give.
FOOD: Make vegetables and lean protein the priority in your diet.
Source: Dr. Sean Hashmi
Hashmi promotes practicing gratitude and mindfulness, which help people remain focused on what’s important and resist temptation and the desire to overindulge.
“Part of overeating is not being mindful,” he says, adding that incorporating meditation and mindfulness will make you more aware of your environments and “those moments when you are weak.”
One practical application he suggests is loading half your plate with salad and eating it first to cut back on the things that aren’t so healthy. He also cautions against being too hard on yourself for overeating or occasionally eating the wrong things.
“If you eat unhealthy food, you don’t have to beat yourself up about it,” Hashmi says. “Most of the diseases in life don’t occur because you had one big, bad family meal. They occur because of years of unhealthy behavior. When people beat themselves up over one mistake it jeopardizes their success.
“Don’t get caught up in the blame game. Negative talk is very self-destructive. It’s the holiday season. Part of healthy living is happiness and joy,” he says.
Large social settings lead to distractions, which can result in overeating or drinking. Holiday foods often combine sweets, salt and fat in a way that approaches what nutrition scientists call “the bliss point,” making them addictive and easy to consume, especially when you’re engrossed in great conversation.
“It’s amazing how we’re able to do things that normally the brain would signal us not to do,” Hashmi says. “The trick is to be in the moment. Don’t try to multitask. When you multitask it’s easy to forget where the focus should be.”
For the big holiday meals, Hashmi suggests taking the family on a group walk before the meal to help everyone be mindful and create stronger bonds between those in the group.
Holiday exercise tips
Everyday items and simple actions can help you stay fit regardless of the weather or your location. Use some of Dr. Sean Hashmi’s tips to keep active during the holidays:
Chair squats: The action of sitting in a chair replicates a portion of the squat exercise. Go from standing to sitting in a chair. Slowly lower yourself in the chair to impact the muscles in the thighs and core.
Wall pushups: Slow, gentle pushup motions against a wall, or counter if you need more resistance, help develop the upper body.
Calf raises: Waiting in line for a Black Friday deal or for the microwave to warm up lunch? Do calf raises to proactively pass the time.
Walking: Try to get in 10,000 steps a day, roughly five miles. Park farther away from entrances and take the stairs when you can. The simple act of regular walking helps maintain a healthy weight and manage chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
Interval training: During your walks, alternate between a regular and quicker pace to increase the calories you burn.