How to prepare mentally and physically for the holiday season

Are you the kind of gal who immediately breaks out her fall décor, candles and pumpkin pie puree as soon as September hits?

Girl, SAME. Growing up in the Midwest, kicking off autumn meant the holidays were just around the corner, which meant more time with loved ones, yummy food and cherished memories.

That said, the holidays also bring a certain level of stress for those who like to live a fairly healthy lifestyle.

So what’s a girl to do when she likes hitting up the gym on the reg, but also likes to indulge in pumpkin pancakes on the weekend?

Here are a few tips on how to prepare – both mentally and physically – for the influx of sweet treats and chaotic trips home for the holidays:

Be flexible

That’s right, my first tip is to let go of your routine and embrace the chaos that comes along with the holiday season. My dad always told me growing up, “Adapt, improvise and overcome.” A few days or even a few weeks diverting from your typical wellness regime isn’t going to kill you.

I try to utilize body weight exercises, such as jump squats, burpees, pushups, etc., as well as taking my workouts outdoors throughout the holidays. Check out my Instagram for body weight workouts, like this HIIT workout you can do pretty much anywhere.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Drinking enough water isn’t only essential for an optimally functioning body, but it also can help aid in weight loss (if that’s your goal). Often times, when you’re dehydrated, your brain and body think you’re hungry, causing you to consume far more food than you might have if you simply drank enough H20 that day.

When heading out on a long road trip home for the holidays, or to a social gathering where alcohol will be provided, drink a bottle of water before partaking in adult festivities. It sounds lame, but I’ve had many instances where I drank water before, during and after a holiday party and not only did I not go off the rails with my diet, but I also didn’t get too buzzed. Perfect combo.

Indulge mindfully

Huh? What? That sounds like an oxymoron, KB. Hear me out friends.

ENJOY YOUR FOOD. If you want a cookie, don’t just scarf down the cookie. Maybe have it with a glass of plant-based milk (dairy is so 2016, ya’ll). Sit down with a friend or loved one and eat the dang dessert. Trust me, you will eat slower, enjoy the experience and might even eat less if you’re indulging with another person.

Crank up the intensity

As mentioned in my second tip, HIIT workouts are a staple when I travel. But what about when you have access to a gym or a variety of weights? Don’t stop moving.

I can get a SOLID workout in 30 minutes or less, often times torching more calories than an hour-long session, if I decrease or completely eliminate rest periods. You might not have all the time in the world to hit the gym this holiday season, but you can control how hard you work and how many times you take a break when you’re working out.

Set a timer or use this tabata app to time your exercises, ensuring you get the most “bang for your buck” when you break a sweat. A good rule of thumb is 20 seconds of high intensity exercises, with 10 seconds rest, then repeat.

Walk it out

I’ve been aiming to get 20,000 steps a day since moving to Chicago, and there has rarely been a day that I haven’t achieved that goal.

But when I’m home in Michigan, aka the Motor City, I’m lucky if I can get 10,000 steps a day!

That’s why taking walks – either in the morning, as an afternoon pick-me-up or an after-dinner activity – can help digest meals, improve blood flow and decrease anxiety surrounding food.

I’m not advocating for walking hours upon hours after a meal (that’s the opposite of being well, actually), but a brisk 10-20 minute walk with could work wonders for your mental and physical health.

Remember nothing is forever, except memories

The older I get, the more I value time and making memories over hitting fitness goals.

That’s not to say I don’t work out, eat healthy and prioritize moving my body every day, but if I have to choose between coffee with my mom or hitting the gym at 5 a.m. before holiday festivities begin, I’d choose my momma any day.

I hope these tips help you navigate the stressful, but wonderful holiday season! If you need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out via Instagram or email.