You’ve probably seen a ton of articles like this lately.

Articles that tell you how to stick to your healthy eating habits during the holiday season. Articles that tell you how to avoid the holiday weight gain. Articles that tell you you have X number of weeks left of 2015 – SO MAKE THEM COUNT!!

But are these articles really promoting a healthy life? What is healthy anyway?

What is and isn’t considered healthy is a very subjective thing. Whole grain bread might be considered healthy for one individual, whereas for someone with celiac, it would definitely NOT be healthy.

Making the choice to stick to your guns and avoid the holiday party food might be a perfectly fine option for one person, but for another with a history of disordered eating habits, that may be all it takes to send them into a spiral of restricting and bingeing. healthy for the holidays

The beef I have with the majority of these holiday survival articles is that when they talk about “being healthy”, what they’re really referring to is avoiding weight gain.

And sure, holiday weight gain is a very real thing. Some studies say people gain an average of 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years, whereas others claim it’s as little as 0-6.7 pounds (very specific, I know).

But what about the rest of us? Our bodies that get neglected as we race around shopping, baking, and partying, all while still handling our regular to-do lists? What about our brains that become so engrossed with finding the perfect gift? With trying to juggle all the responsibilities this time of year tends to bring? With avoiding the holiday weight gain everyone is telling us we need to avoid?

I’m a firm believer that if we take care of our minds and our bodies, our bodies will in turn take care of us.

If we give ourselves permission to say no to that holiday party, or find compassion for ourselves for actually not getting everything on our to-do lists done, or remind ourselves that we are already enough, regardless of what the media tells us, we’ll have less stress contributing to crazy hormones (which lead to weight gain!), and we’ll be able to make more rational decisions that contribute to our overall well-being as opposed to heading straight to the buffet table after a rough week.

If we make a conscious effort to move our bodies – not just exercise, but actually just MOVE throughout the day – our metabolisms will operate at an elevated rate, we won’t feel stiff and sore at the end of the day, and we’ll feel good knowing we did what we could. And hey, if 20-60 minutes make themselves available for a workout, then that’s even better.

Growing up, the holidays were always a stressful time for me because of everything that needed to get done. As I got older , the stress of the Christmas need-to-dos was replaced by the stress of wanting to eat all the holiday goodies in sight and yet feeling guilty when I did and deprived when I said no.

I’ve spent the past two holiday seasons actually not giving a shit, and let me tell you – it’s awesome.

I’m only one human. YOU are only one human. We CANNOT nor should we HAVE to do all the things, attend all the parties, buy all the gifts, and indulge just enough to feel satisfied but not so much that we gain a quarter of a pound.

Life isn’t always balanced – there will be times where we’re able to fit in workouts, eat nutritious meals, go to work, manage the family, and handle all of our other responsibilities with ease. And then there will be other times where we’re on the go all day, only to realize at 6pm that we haven’t had anything to eat yet except coffee.

But understanding that these ebbs and flows of balance and non-balance and doing what we can for ourselves during those times we DO have a little balance is what living a healthy life is all about.

Amidst all these holiday survival tips there are totally some helpful pieces of information. My recommendation? Pick a few tips that work for you and your fabulously unique life and run with them! Focus on taking care of your mind as well as your body and I have no doubt you’ll be running into 2016 feeling effin’ amazing.

Looking for a starting point for finding some BS-free tips that will help you stay healthy for the holidays? Check out the free guide I put together with some of my favourite tips and three quick & dirty workouts you can fit in your busy day! Just click the image below and it’s yours 🙂

Tips to help you stay healthy this holiday season with a bonus free guide! via @arianafotinakis #healthyholidays Click To Tweet
Showing 18 comments
  • Reply

    I completely agree with you when you say that most of these “stay healthy” posts are about keeping off the pounds. I don’t change my eating habits much during the holidays–don’t get me wrong, I do indulge in some cookies, but I don’t overdo it. And that’s the key. I keep up my workouts because that keeps me sane. If I get that done, everything else seems to fall into place.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Totally agree with you, Wendy. I think your tactic in allowing yourself those indulgences helps you refrain from going overboard!

  • Sarah @ The Fit Cookie
    Reply

    I definitely agree with making mental and emotional health a priority! The holidays can be so stressful sometimes and it’s crucial for all around wellness to make mental health important

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Glad you agree, Sarah!

  • Mar @ Mar on the Run
    Reply

    definitely agree that the undertone on most of these posts is avoiding weight gain. I wrote a tips post a while back that was about staying present during the holidays. This time is about being with family and friends and positive mind and spirit!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Oh awesome! I’ll definitely check that out. I agree that moments with our families are ones we aren’t going to want to have forgotten because we were so focused on avoiding the weight!

  • Reply

    Well said, Ariana! There’s so much pressure on us to “do it all”, especially this time of year. When Thanksgiving came, I knew I wanted to enjoy it, and I ate everything that I wanted with no guilt! We have to listen to our bodies and be kind to ourselves, especially this time of year!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I agree! We’re so hard on ourselves all the time – we deserve at least a little bit of a break!

  • Reply

    yes good points! Healthy is different for everyone. I don’t change my eating habits too much but I am more stressed so I feel different. There is lots of pressure and I have totally over committed

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Sorry to hear you’re feeling that way! I know it can be a lot more tough when you have children. You are doing such a great job of taking care of yourself though, so keep it up! 🙂

  • Carmy
    Reply

    I’m a firm believer of “it’s the holidays, relax a little!” unless if I have a goal race right after the holidays, I stay healthy by decreasing my stressing/worrying!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Great way to think about it. No point in undoing lots of hard training by eating too many cookies! 😉

  • Reply

    Great post. I’m a big believer in moderation. I refuse to deprive myself over the holidays, but it’s not an excuse to be gluttonous either, lol. All great tips!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I agree! It’s a delicate balance, but it’s definitely achievable!

  • Sandra Laflamme
    Reply

    I totally agree! The holidays shouldn’t be a time of total restriction. It’s a time to enjoy!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Well said, Sandra! I hope you have an awesome holiday!

  • Patty @ Reach Your Peak
    Reply

    Great post! I think I have been on the opposite end of the spectrum though because I did indulge a bit too much and have now gained 5lbs since Thanksgiving ughhhh!!You live and you learn! 🙂

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Ahh yes! Now there’s another holiday right around the corner to practice some new indulgent-control skills! 😉

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