You've seen swarms of people at the gym come January 2nd. This is a result of fitness-themed, New Year's resolutions and a general desire to get back into a healthy routine after a season of holiday parties and happy hours.
Typically, January is the month when health and fitness goals rise to the top of our priority lists. However, new research from Cornell University shows that, on average, October may be the month you are actually your fittest. This study of average weight gain and loss patterns shows that the pounds we add between Thanksgiving and New Year take nearly 6 months to shed!
As the author of the study said, “It’s easier to avoid holiday pounds than to lose them after they happen.”
Of course, we know that wellness is about much more than numbers on the scale. One of the major benefits of regular exercise and a nourishing diet is the way you feel: strong, energetic, healthy and confident!
So why wait for January? Take advantage of being at your health and fitness peak right now to continue the momentum forward through the next few months. By creating health habits that focus on adding things that are good for your body rather than restricting or missing out, you’ll be able to keep your wellness goals on track and fully enjoy this season of delicious food.
Schedule Movement on Your Calendar
We know daily movement and having a fitness routine is good for us, but it’s easy to let this fall to the bottom of the daily ‘to-do’ list. Especially when the holiday season is FULL of social events, like after-work happy hours and parties, making it even easier to miss a workout. So channel that January motivation into this month.
Instead of leaving daily movement as an optional ‘if you have time’ part of your day, make it an intentional part of your schedule. Whether you use an old-fashioned paper planner or a calendar app, block specific time-slots in your day for movement and commit to these personal appointments the same way you would any other meeting.
Need some inspiration? Here are 15 free, full-length at-home workout videos to get you started.
BONUS TIP: Invite a friend to join you for a run, walk, or yoga class. Not only does this create accountability and increase your odds of completing a workout, but it’s a great way to catch up with a friend during the busy holiday season (and release some stress-reducing endorphins).
Boost Your Immune System with Extra Protein
A combination of holiday stress, disrupted sleep schedules, and the start of cold and flu season means your body may need a little extra nutritional help this time of year.
A diet rich in protein supports a healthy immune system and sustained energy levels throughout the day.
Eggs are an easily digestible protein and a great way to kick off your morning. Hard boiled eggs or baked egg cups also make delicious, portable, protein-packed snacks; specifically pre- and post-workout snacks that help support muscle recovery.
No time to meal prep eggs during the busy holiday season? No problem! Organic Valley’s pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs and Fuel protein shakes are easy grab-n-go solutions. Additionally, Fuel is a delicious way to curb sugar cravings that tend to kick in thanks to the increase in holiday treats around the office and house.
Be Intentional About Sugar Intake
Speaking of sugar, several holiday traditions include sweet treats—trick-or-treating, decorating cookies, post-sledding hot chocolate, and holiday pies to name a few. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these sweet holiday moments (because of course we will enjoy them!), being intentional about your sugar intake during your usual day-to-day is important.
Sugar can be addictive and a slippery slope. Consuming some sugar is necessary for our bodies to function properly. But too much sugar, whether as sweets or starchy foods like bread, can negatively impact not only your waistline and teeth, but also your mood, immune system, and heart.
There are still lots of low- and no-sugar ways to satisfy your sweet tooth, such as fresh or frozen berries and yogurt with no added sugar (like Plain Grassmilk Yogurt). Feel free to stir in a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup -- the important thing is that you’re able to control the amount of sugar you’re adding, and the total sugar content will likely still be lower than that of processed sweets.
Smoothies are another nutrient-dense way to satisfy sugar cravings. Blend together a mix of fruits and greens (like spinach or kale) with milk. Organic Valley’s new Ultra-filtered milk is perfect for making rich and creamy smoothies with 50% more protein and HALF the sugar of regular milk.
Meal Prep + Plan Accordingly
It's tempting to “save up” calories to splurge on that sugar cookie platter or festive cocktail, but you’ll make better choices if you stay nutritionally balanced throughout the day. When your body isn’t craving all the things, you’ll be more likely to consciously choose and enjoy the items that truly make you happy.
Meal prep is key to maintaining your October healthy habits throughout the holidays. Rather than showing up to a holiday gathering starving, eating a wholesome snack ahead of time will help you make healthier choices at the party, and enjoy treats in moderation.
What’s a wholesome snack consist of? Sources of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
If you’re a parent already in the habit of packing lunches for your kids, it will be easy to add on a ‘DIY snack box’ for yourself.
A simple example of a wholesome snack box is pictured above -- cheese sticks wrapped in slices of ham, served alongside fresh fruit and energy bites. This DIY snack box includes protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates for a quick energy boost.
If the thought of snack or meal prep feels like too much, reaching for wholesome, packaged organic snacks is still a great option.
When shopping for store-bought snacks, the label matters. Two important nutritional values to pay attend to on labels are grams of protein (aim for 10 to 15 grams of protein for a snack) and grams of sugar (aim for 5 to 9 grams of sugar for a snack). These pre-made organic snack kits are a great example of a well-balanced, pre-packed snack.
Enjoy the Holiday Season!
Most importantly, the holidays are about family, friends, and celebrations.
Remember that indulging in a few favorite cookies or cocktails isn't going to derail your health goals. A healthy diet is all about balance that you can maintain year-round.
Here’s a simple mindset to have going into these next few months: Focus on adding good things to your diet rather than restricting or avoiding treats.
Whether your path to an October peak has focused on good food, mental health, or fitness, you’ve worked hard to get to this point. Why not channel that January motivation now to keep up the momentum? Continuing to make healthy habits part of your daily life over the next few months will mean you’ll feel great rather than guilty when January rolls around. And that’s definitely something to celebrate.
Lindsey is the fitness-loving blogger + content creator behind NourishMoveLove.com. Her days are spent teaching group fitness classes, filming workout videos, and creating health + fitness content for her blog and brand partners. Lindsey lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, son and new baby girl. Follow along with Lindsey's health, fitness + motherhood journey on Instagram @nourishmovelove.