5 Ways to Stay Committed to Your Health During the Holidays

This post is not about how you should chug 4 water bottles before any social gathering or how you should swap beers for a ~light and ~low-carb vodka soda (but if you want to, I do recommend vodka and LaCroix). It’s more about how to navigate the holidays while not falling COMPLETELY off the wagon/messing up any kind of will-power or control we had once instilled.

December always seems to be the month where our discipline is pushed aside. We’re busy. We’re shopping, attending work/friend/family holiday parties, and trying to cram in the last of the year’s projects. It’s easy for our health to take a backseat, but it doesn’t have to. Here are the ways I keep myself committed to my health during the holidays.

1. Eat what you want

Depriving yourself of something you want to eat is a lose-lose for everyone. There’s simply too much good food going around during the holidays for you to miss out on it. My only advice here is to be conscious of how it’ll make you feel. For example, I love cheese and could stand over a platter for hours and be perfectly content. However, IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE SHIT. Therefore, I’m NOT going to stand over that platter for hours. I’m going to grab a few squares of gouda, bask in the warm, fuzzy feeling that is pure satisfaction, and move on. 

2. Explore new workouts

When the sun sets at 4:30pm, there is NOTHING I want to do less than workout. These last few weeks after Daylight Savings Time have shown me that I have no motivation to go to the gym, so I signed up for a Classpass free trial to test out new workouts and new studios in the city. If you don’t have Classpass in your area, look for gyms that offer weeklong trials or ask your friends if they have guest passes/guest discounts. This is a good way to bring a little excitement back into working out (or conversely, just pure, full-blown anxiety, which is me in any group workout setting #bringafriend). I’ve also noticed myself leaning toward less intense cardio workouts in the winter, like yoga and barre, and you can find these on YouTube! Woo!

3. Bring a healthy appetizer

Sometimes, they’re just NOT available. Everyone’s favorite dishes (including my own) are hot, cheesy, have the word “crack” in it, and likely includes God’s gift to the world (Hawaiian bread) on the side. So everyone brings it. But let’s switch it up a little! Give people the option to grab a fruit skewer or that Mediterranean dip that’s all over Pinterest. If “healthy” is just not doable, at least opt to bring something with a little nutrition.

4. Make your holiday activities active

Find a way to be ~festive and include yourself on this month’s cheesy activities in an active way. Go ice skating for a couple hours (I last maybe 13 min and 45 seconds before I’m too frozen, but I’ll PERSIST this year) and do a long walk instead of driving around for Christmas lights. If you’re in Chicago, the Lincoln Park ZooLights are another active way to be Christmas-y. An added bonus: It’ll make cozying up inside that much better.

5. Learn how to say no

Because mental health is important, too! Remember that you are not obligated to go to parties you don’t want to go to– whether that be to save money, to save yourself the anxiety, or to save yourself from being around triggering food/people/whatever it is. Spend your time with people you WANT to be with and the holidays will be a lot less stressful.

So there’s my two cents. How do you hold yourself accountable with food, workouts, and mental health during the holidays? Could always add a couple more to the list 🙂

– Outfit details –
Similar leggings: 1 | 2 | Sports bra | If I could find a similar cardigan I would buy it because mine is destroyed. Sorry!

5 Cardio Tips for When You Hate Cardio

Bianca Bialk

Cardio. What a love/hate relationship. I’m one of those people that managed to convince myself that running feels good, but I also dread most moments before a workout knowing I’ll be on the treadmill. There’s a reason it’s good for you, and it’s because it sucks! However, I feel I have ~come to terms with death via cardio, so I’ll teach you my tips.

1. Switch it up

I automatically think of running when I think cardio, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, cardio is defined as any exercise that increases your heart rate. This can be done in many ways (circuit workouts, tabata, biking, rollerblading), so don’t force yourself on the treadmill if you have anxiety just thinking about it. Even better, try those activities in a workout class — Classpass offers a free month trial, Chicago!

Bianca Bialk

2. Find a buddy

I used to think my friend Taylor was insane for running without headphones (I still kind of do) but running while catching up with a friend is the perfect two-birds-one-stone scenario. Talking while breathing is a whole other story, but having a partner gives you someone to chat with and HOLD you accountable. This also works especially well if you are competitive 😉 (I’m not, but I heard it’s a thing).

3. Use interval workouts

Especially useful on the treadmill, interval workouts are foolproof ways to make the time go faster. Switching speeds and inclines during your workout is great for you, but it’s also an INCREDIBLE boredom-fighter. This is that “I only have to do this 5-min chunk four more times” mentality that helps us get through any tedious tasks. 

4. Work for a goal

For new or old runners, having a time/distance goal to keep in mind is a great way to stay motivated. Whether this means being able to run 3 miles without stopping, being able to run a mile under ten minutes, or even training for a race, giving yourself an end goal encourages you to keep going until you make it happen. 

5. Change up your setting

Nothing bores me to tears more than routine. Not only do I make a conscious effort to switch up the kind of cardio I do, but I also try to change the scenery as often as I can. While this is a liiiiitle more possible in the summer, I recommend taking your run somewhere new to keep things from getting monotonous.

How do you make cardio bearable? LMK, THANKS!

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Photos by Laurel Pierce