Often, when we think about the holidays we think, "Oh, I'll just get my health and fitness goals back on track afterwards," or, "January 1 will be the perfect time to kick-start my new workout routine." And really, there's nothing wrong with this line of thinking: if you want to take a break and just relax at this time of year, or you're simply just not ready to commit to your goals yet, that's fine.
But if you are ready or you're thinking something like, "I've been doing really great lately and I don't want to fall off track just because the holidays are here," there are plenty of things you can do and tools you can use to make the process more manageable. We all know this time of year presents a few additional "healthy living obstacles." From stressed-out shopping and bombardments of sugar-filled treats to busy schedules and cocktail-happy get togethers it can certainly be a challenge to stay focused on your goals and avoid going overboard.
But a solid plan and the right tools can make staying on track much easier. Here's a look at a few helpful items and accessories that can help you have both a healthy and happy holiday season.
No doubt, keeping your healthy eating habits in line during the holidays can often be the biggest challenge of all. It’s not like you should restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite treats, but it is a good idea to balance all of that out by consistently eating nutritionally-dense, balanced meals. One way to support this goal is by stocking up with healthy cookbooks, like the Racing Weight Cookbook by Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear. “You don't want to crash diet—especially if you continue to train and race over the winter—and you also don't want to gain excess fat and worsen your conditioning,” Fear explained. “This book helps you fuel up with high quality dishes and contains lots of information about how to eat for your training level.”
And to take this one step further, make sure you also carve out some time for meal prepping each week. “The holiday season can keep you on the go with little time to prepare meals,” explained Dr. Caroline Cederquist M.D., creator of bistroMD and author of The MD Factor Diet. “Fast food may be handy, but often is high in fat and calories. Prepare and freeze quick, healthy meals ahead of time to stay out of the fast-food trap.” See: Dietitian-Approved Tips for Healthy Meal Planning Made Easy
This easy-to-use app literally pays you for your healthy habits. As you log your workouts, meals and other healthful choices, you’ll earn “Wellcoins.” When you’ve racked up enough, head to the marketplace and use them to buy everything from Gym Classes and healthy food to workout gear and gift cards. “Apps can be a great way to help ‘keep you honest’ when embarking on an exercise program,” said Craig Cristello, exercise physiologist at Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. He suggested additional apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt.
Whether you’ve been thinking about throwing running into your workout mix or you already love the sport and want to make sure you’ll stick with it through winter, nothing will motivate you more (and make it easier) than this all-inclusive GPS watch. The Ironman One boasts GPS-tracking, music and even messaging features, meaning you can run without carrying your phone, but won’t have to give up its tracking, music-playing and communication capabilities. Basically, you can just strap on your watch and go.
Worried you won’t have as much time to make it to the gym? Do you like the idea of exercising in the comfort of your own home? Look no further than Grokker’s vast library of expert-led workout videos. With everything from bodyweight HIIT workouts and yoga sequences to Pilates routines and free-weight strength training sessions, this subscription-based collection of videos will without a doubt help to keep your fitness regimen on track all through the holiday season and beyond.
While you can also use it at the gym, this app is especially helpful for those who have a treadmill at home, but need a little bit of motivation when it comes to actually putting it to use. RunSocial features a virtual reality-esque function that blends HD real-world video, 3D virtual world capabilities and social connectivity. Essentially, it allows you to visualize an outdoor run (in places like Italy, the Swiss Alps and Sequoia National Forest, just to name a few of the mind-blowingly beautiful locations you can choose from) while you log miles on the treadmill. In other words, goodbye treadmill boredom, hello healthy exercise habit.
We often forget that getting adequate amounts of quality sleep is as essential to good health as exercising and eating right. Don’t let your healthy habits fall by the wayside this holiday season because you’re too tired. The Rise & Shine sleep system is designed to align with your natural circadian rhythm by simulating the natural light of the sunrise and sunset. The light will gradually lessen as you fall asleep and then incrementally increase as you wake naturally. Plus, the device also features built-in spa soundscapes (like morning birds, oceans and streams), which can also be set to decrease and increase progressively if desired. See also: 13 Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
If you’re into working out at home, but prefer traditional weight lifting to bodyweight moves, then you’ll likely find lots of value in the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells. The best part? With just two dumbbells you have weights from five to 52.5 pounds (or 10 to 90 pounds if you opt for the larger size) and the ability to progress your muscle-building workouts without ever having to leave your home gym.
The iHealth scale was designed to help hold you accountable to your weight loss goals. When paired with your mobile device, the scale will record your weight each time you step on. Even more impressive, you can set a weight loss goal and the iHealth app will provide stats to help you monitor your progress and keep you on track.
Fooducate (a free app) makes learning how to eat healthy easy. It goes beyond calorie counting by helping you analyze the nutritional value of different foods. Use it to scan product bar codes and it will reveal a nutrition grade from A to D. “Minimally processed, real foods with intrinsic nutrients will score better than processed foods that are poor in built-in nutrients,” the app's website says. The app will also explain the product’s pros and cons and offer ideas for healthier alternatives. And in addition to analyzing foods, you can also use Fooducate to track your food intake by both quantity and quality.
These buds feature a wireless design so that when you want to exercise with music, you can actually spend more time exercising than trying to de-tangle a pair of old-fashioned earphones that actually have to be plugged in. Plus, not only do they eliminate the most irritating part of going to the gym, but the Dash headphones boast a pretty impressive list of additional features including the ability to store up to 1,000 songs (which means you won’t need to carry any extra accessories), a waterproof design and a fitness tracker that records heart rate, speed, workout time and distance, and even your cadence and oxygen saturation.