Have a Happy and Healthy(ish) Holiday

Ok, so we all know that this time of year can get pretty darn indulgent. We eat more, we drink more, and we tend to tell ourselves that the gym can wait until the New Year. And you know what, as normally busy and disciplined young professionals (YPs), we like letting loose during the holidays! So we aren’t going to try and put a damper on all the gluttony that makes the holidays so special. We won’t tell you to skip the holiday baking or to fit in a gym sesh before opening presents. Instead, the owners of Twist Me Toned (TMT), a program designed to help busy professionals incorporate realistic health and fitness into their lives, have shown us how to have a healthier holiday without missing out.

TMT’s Ainsley McSorely (BSc nutritional sciences) and Tannis Miller (BA sport psychology) understand that food and drink are a huge part of socializing with friends and family, and that the need to do so is definitely heightened at this time of the year. The two retired fitness competitors also believe that wise indulgences are necessary for a healthy balanced lifestyle. So check out their easy food and drink substitutions – as well as some fun alternative physical activities – so we can all still dive head first into the mashed potatoes and eggnog… but then be able to swim back out again.

Holiday Baking
Shortbread, butter tarts, brownies, oh my! What are the holidays without the sweet Christmas goodies we all grew up enjoying? It’s just too bad we don’t have that 10-year-old metabolism anymore. Not to worry, YP friends, thanks to the Internet there are tricks on tricks on tricks when it comes to guilt-free baking. There are many recipes online that are either modified versions of ‘grandma’s favourite’, or that offer general substitutions that can be made to cut calories,” say Ainsley and Tannis. For example, unsweetened applesauce can be used for equal amounts of sugar in sweet breads and muffins, and avocado for equal amounts of butter in brownies and cookies. For one of their personal, modified favourites, check out this gingerbread cookie recipe from SkinnyTaste.com.

Christmas Cocktails
As far as holiday bevvies go, our two experts remind us that added sugar (to what is already a sugar-based substance – booze) is the true Grinch when it comes to both holiday hangovers and weight gain. But hey, how can you have eggnog and cider without sugar? “We like adding stevia or agave nectar to cocktails,” suggest Ainsley and Tanis. “This sweetens them up without adding the additional sugar.” They also recommend simply seeking out or making up new Christmas cocktails without added sugars (also called “simple syrup” on bar menus), like this easy low-cal concoction: 

The Sexy Santa
1 1/2oz Voli Lemon vodka (Voli light vodkas average between 25% and 40% lower calories than leading brands).
2oz cranberry juice
Splash of club soda 

Mix vodka and cranberry juice in a rocks glass. Top with a splash of club soda. Makes 1 drink.

Nutritional Info:
100 calories, 8.6g carbs, 7.6g sugar

The Feast
When we’re staring at that spread of Christmas delights – turkey, potatoes, gravy, etc. – it can feel like a futile endeavour trying not to succumb and completely overeat. So how do the ladies suggest tackling this typical excessive exercise? “First, bring a healthy dish yourself,” they advise. “Not only will the host likely appreciate the help, but you can also be sure to nosh on something clean and delicious if there aren’t many other healthy options.” And for the rest of the delicious dishes: “Fill the majority of your plate with the veggie and meats, and save the starchy carbs for about a quarter of it.” Also, they recommend, “fill yourself up with a big glass of water before you sit down to eat. Often we overeat if our body is dehydrated, as the hunger and thirst signals to the brain are often confused.”

‘Tis not the season for the gym
Finally, as many YPs tend to focus much of their holiday on spending time with family and friends, and for some that means out of town and away from their usual fitness facilities, Ainsley and Tannis propose taking up alternative ways of keeping active. They suggest getting outside and treating ourselves to those fun activities that made Christmases of our childhood so memorable; i.e. tobogganing, ice skating, building forts, snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding. There are also indoor activities like trampoline and adventure parks that your younger cousins or nieces and nephews would just love to have you join in on. And, of course, for the moments we all need to take a break, you can always go for a solo stroll with the dog or a nice crisp winter jog.  

If you are hoping to avoid some of that Boxing Day bloat and post vacay ass-dragging, but still have a good old time this holiday season, there are easy ways to have it all. What’s most important, of course, is that we all feel good and truly enjoy ourselves, because don’t forget, Christmas comes but once a year. Happy Holidays!

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Cover Image From: Young and Raw