Holiday-Proof Your Fitness with These 10 Tips from Dana Santas and Don Saladino
The holidays can be a challenging time for maintaining your health and fitness. With the added stress of holiday scheduling and numerous opportunities to overindulge, it’s no wonder many individuals throw in the towel, resolving to get back on track in the new year.
Don’t let the holidays be an all-or-nothing proposition!
With the right mindset and approach, you can enjoy the holiday season without sabotaging your health and fitness.
To help you holiday-proof your fitness, I tapped the expert advice of my good friend, celebrity trainer Don Saladino, who trains some of Hollywood’s heavy hitters, including Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Anne Hathaway, John Krasinski, and others. Because celebrities are no strangers to partying, I asked Don to share tips he gives his clients to get through the season without wreaking havoc on their health and fitness-minded goals.
Celebrity or not (most of us), we need to focus on smart strategies to keep holiday stress and indulgences from pushing us over the edge. Here’s how you can start putting it into action now.
1. Maintain a healthy mindset
According to Saladino, “Your goal should be to actively appreciate the holidays, while staying fully in control of your choices.”
Although the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, too many of us lose sight of that and spend time beating ourselves up for celebrating. There’s nothing healthy about that! Enjoying the treats of the season is okay – feeling guilty isn’t!
You know those cookies your mom baked with love? No need to deny yourself or your mother the gratification of partaking. It’s important to remind yourself that you have control; you can eat one or two cookies without devouring a dozen. Remember, you are happily – not guiltily – making choices regarding how you celebrate.
To curb stomach upset when eating foods that you might not normally consume outside of the holidays, consider Thorne’s Bio-Gest to aid in digestion.* The unique formula contains key digestive enzymes to help aid in digestion of fats, proteins, and carbs.*
2. Do the math!
Saladino says too many people spend time needlessly stressing about a small percentage of indulgent meals they eat during the holidays, so he urges them to “do the math.”
From mid-November to January 1st is about 45 days. If you eat an average of three meals a day, that’s 135 meals. Having a few holiday brunches and several decadent dinners over the course of 45 days won’t derail your fitness if your other meals remain healthy. Let’s say you had a dozen indulgent holiday meals, that’s less than nine percent of your overall total.
3. Don’t punish yourself with exercise
This goes hand-in-hand with the first tip about keeping a healthy mindset. Exercise shouldn’t be used as punishment to overcome “bad” holiday behavior. In fact, Saladino says he actually cuts back his clients’ training volume and frequency during the holidays to reduce the demand on their schedules while maintaining consistency. He says keeping them in “the right frame of mind is most important,” so he urges them to keep workouts under 40 minutes, with the intent of simply breaking a sweat and helping them manage stress.
4. Stay satiated.
Another tip Saladino says he gives his clients is to stay satiated, so they don’t arrive ravenous at a holiday event where there are limited healthy options. If you’ve ever tried to grocery shop when you were hungry and ended up with lots of unhealthy snacks in your cart, then you know why this is good advice.
If possible, eat a protein-packed healthy meal, or have a healthy, filling Thorne Whey Protein Isolate shake before heading to a holiday party.
Just like the importance of staying satiated, staying hydrated also fills you up and keeps you from reaching for food when you’re actually just thirsty. What’s more, dehydration puts added stress on your body. That’s because the biggest problem with dehydration isn’t simply fluid loss, but the significant amount of electrolytes lost with it. Electrolytes are essential minerals responsible for electrical energy involved in bodily functions, like muscle contraction, cardiac activity, and nerve impulses. Loss of electrolytes due to dehydration will make you feel rundown and also contribute to that hungover feeling if you drink too much alcohol.
Many people associate dehydration and the need to hydrate with the summer. But with the colder winter weather, dryer indoor air, and increased likelihood you’re drinking holiday cocktails, it’s easier to become dehydrated, so use Catalyte, Thorne’s electrolyte restoration powder, in your water bottle to replenish lost electrolytes.*
6. Imbibe strategically.
Speaking of drinking alcohol, Saladino gives what he says is unpopular-but-effective advice: “When choosing a cocktail, instead of focusing on the calories in the drink, pick heavier drinks that you have to sip and will make you feel full, so you end up drinking less overall.” According to Saladino, the biggest issue with alcohol during the holidays isn’t so much the calorie intake as it is the overall intake leading to lapses in self-control that can lead to making poor food and life choices. When selecting a holiday cocktail, consider a thicker, more indulgent spiked eggnog over the candy-cane martini.
Between the indulgent food and the extra cocktail or two, our livers tend to work overtime during the holiday season. It’s not a bad idea to show your liver some extra love with antioxidants like Thorne’s NAC – which supports the normal detoxification function of the liver.*
7. Keep stress in check.
Whether it’s the stress of shorter, darker days and increased schedule demands or family-related anxiety, the holidays take a stressful toll on your health and wellness. Added stress can result in poor decision making, stress eating, and physical tension. That’s why it’s important to proactively practice self-care and stress management techniques.
Carve out several minutes a day away from the holiday craziness for mindful practices like meditation, breathing focus, and gratitude. Research shows that as little as five minutes of mindfulness meditation practice each day lowers stress and anxiety. In addition to the workouts, Saladino recommends in order to sweat out stress, take steps to release even more physical tension with techniques like foam rolling and massage.
Because the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can send our stress into overtime, help your body better manage stress naturally with Thorne’s Stress Management Bundle – a trio of supplements handpicked to promote a calm state of mind and restful sleep.* Also consider getting to the root of the problem by better understanding your body’s ability to manage stress. Consider taking Thorne’s at-home stress test to help you determine the best stress-management supplements for you.
8. Sneak in consistent daily exercise.
During this chaotic time of year when our regular schedules are thrown off, I agree with Saladino and recommend training smarter, not harder. That means choosing consistency over quantity by fitting in exercise consistently every day where it makes the most sense in your lifestyle and schedule. One of the most effective ways to integrate exercise into your life every day is by stacking it onto another daily habit. For instance, for years now, I’ve been doing pushups before getting in the shower and body-weight squats while I brush my teeth – every time, every day.
You can learn more about how you can use habit stacking and other strategies to boost your daily holiday exercise here.
9. Don’t throw in the towel until the New Year!
With all the opportunities to overindulge, you might find yourself overdoing it at a holiday party and, in the moment, deciding to just let go of self-control and start over fresh after the holidays. Toward the end of the year, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of “New Year, New You.” But remember that the calendar has nothing to do with changing your health and fitness.
You get a fresh start every day – not every year. Don’t set yourself up for an uphill battle in a couple of weeks. Saladino says, “Don’t give up. Get back on track the next day.”
10. Get enough sleep.
Too often during the holidays, we burn the candle at both ends to keep up with the responsibilities of our career and everyday life, while also meeting the demands of the holidays. It’s crucial that you give your body and mind the time and rest needed to recover each night. Sleep is a key factor in both the function of your metabolism and your immune health; as such, not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night can lead to weight gain, illness and other negative health implications.
To adequately process those holiday meals and avoid picking up a seasonal sickness, you need to prioritize rest. If you have trouble sleeping, try these breathing techniques to help, and consider some of Thorne’s sleep-supportive supplements like Melatonin, PharmaGaba, and Magnesium Bisglycinate, all of which are conveniently found in the Thorne Sleep Bundle.*
Remember that being healthy is your lifestyle, not your resolution. Following the 10 tips above, you can enjoy the holidays without derailing your health and wellness.
Dana Santas, known as the "Mobility Maker," is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of the book, "Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.”
Special note: This blog was adapted from an article written by Ms. Santas for CNN.