GUEST EDITORIAL: Plan ahead to stay fit during the holidays


Tis the season for homemade sweets that only come around one time of the year. These tempting treats usually come with obligatory attendance to an event with family, friends or coworkers. So, since you’re at a party and your favorite treat won’t stop staring at you it’s time to splurge, right? You can always work it off later, but the holiday season is busiest time of the year. So, what if later doesn’t come until February?

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s there seems to be a giant conga line of delicious foods everywhere you turn. The key to enjoying your favorite holiday treats and staying fit is all about prioritizing. If you know the dates and times of parties and events, mark them in your calendar and plan daily exercise around these events. Here’s the deal, it is the holiday season so here are a few things to think about while getting into the spirit of things.

First things first, don’t panic. Your food choices do not equal your value as a person. The holiday season is a challenge for anyone trying to eat healthy. Also, be realistic. Don’t deprive yourself! Treat yourself with your favorite cookies, cake, fudge or whatever else it is that dances like sugarplums in your head. That being said, be realistic. Don’t go cold turkey and boycott holiday treats, that’s simply not reasonable (or sane). However, if you are easily tempted, plan ahead. Decide what isn’t worth the calories, and what you think is worth spending 20 extra minutes on the treadmill. Find that balance and you should be good to go!

Now, let’s talk about the moment that your plan goes completely down the drain. You went full-on Buddy the Elf at the dessert table, and you are having regrets. Don’t shame yourself for eating an entire gingerbread house, the resulting sugar coma will be enough punishment. A buffet-style event can set you up for success, or complete failure. Assess your options as you make your way through the line to make your plate. It is pretty easy to spot the healthier items that are available, and it’s also very easy to fix yourself a 3,000-calorie plate before you even hit the dessert table. If you fill two-thirds of your plate with the healthier items available, then you should be good to go. If you feel like you deprived yourself on that first go-around, head back and get a small sampling of some not-so-healthy foods. Moderation is key to a happy holiday, and a well-balanced lifestyle.          

The most important thing to remember is that a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle is not defined by one change, but many small everyday changes that lead to big results. Celebrate the small victories because no matter how great your willpower is the holidays are just overwhelming. Through the years you will experience health and wellness successes and setbacks. This is called learning. Deep stuff, right? Take a look back at past holiday seasons and try to remember what worked and what didn’t. What were your health and wellness goals then, compared to now? Let’s be real, struggles with food don’t just exist during the holiday season. Making small lifestyle changes throughout the entire year, can make you the health and wellness MVP of the holiday season.

Kayti Persall Murphree

Health & Wellness Coordinator

Cullman City Parks & Recreation

Photo: Getty Images