The holidays are here! With less than a week until Christmas, our stress levels are rising to maximum capacity, shopping lines are rapidly increasing, and holiday music is causing headaches everywhere. While this can be the most stressful time of year, done right, it can also be the most enjoyable time.

One of the reasons stress increases around the holidays is because our health often decreases. Christmas shopping, party planning, and wrapping presents have taken place over boot camp, Zumba, and the gym while unhealthy hors d’oeuvres and fast food quickly begin to trump our strategically planned healthy meals.

Here are some quick tips for keeping a happy, healthy body!

At The Mall:

1. Park in the farthest possible spot! Not only will this save you time in the long run rather than circling around looking for a closer spot but you will burn extra calories.

2. While waiting patiently outside those loud, crowded stores, take some laps! Bonus: Add SPEED! Power walking (around 4.5 mph) can burn almost as much as someone jogging at that same speed because you are using the same amount of energy to stay in motion. Just make sure to wear good sneakers!

3. Take those stairs! As tempting as it may be to hop on that escalator, you’re only cheating yourself. Stairs are a great way to up your heart rate and burn some unneeded calories – why not even modify Step 2 by adding some stairs into your laps?

At the Parties:

1. Eat a light meal or snack before heading to the main event (an egg and some sauteed spinach, a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, or a greens salad with vegetables and a light dressing). The trick is to get some protein or fiber in, so that you feel fuller longer. Always, always stay hydrated as well. This way, you’ll be less likely to go crazy on those tasty appetizers and temping desserts.

2. If you are bringing a plate, bring something nutritious! Show your loved ones that just because something is labeled healthy doesn’t mean that it isn’t DELICIOUS! (Great recipe sites include Epicurious, Moosewood, which is all vegetarian, and Vegan Yack Attack for… you guessed it, all vegan foods!! All are equally tasty and offer great holiday recipes, give them a whirl.

3. Last but certainly not least, don’t skimp on exercise the day of a party! Do you ever notice that after a great workout, you’re less likely to reach for chips and cookies and are more likely to eat healthy? Why waste all that hard work? Bonus: You’ll keep your stress levels WAY down!

Remember that success comes from keeping a balance.

Exercise but don’t kill yourself, indulge but don’t overindulge, and always keep the bigger picture in mind! Your goals are only as close as your next step.

“Celebrate we will, because life is short but sweet for certain.”
-Dave Matthews Band

Stay tuned for – Holiday Survival Quick Tips: Healthy Mind