My family celebrates both Chanukah and Christmas, which can mean more preparation, more parties, more presents, and more food. What it doesn’t always mean is more time being active, and sometimes the balance between healthy eating and indulging tips in the wrong direction. These are things that I suspect lots of people struggle with no matter which holidays they celebrate. So I went to our trusty AfL Role Models and asked them: What tips to you have for staying healthy over the holidays? How do you combat the stress and the overeating? Do you have an active holiday tradition?
Here’s what they told me:
“Always go for short physical activity every day to make yourself feel better. It will help you feel more comfortable and you’ll enjoy the holidays more.” – Benoit Huot
“I believe in celebrating an outdoor Christmas the week before the real Christmas every year. Getting away for the weekend before Christmas is self-care for me. By then I’m frazzled and need to get away from all the commercial stuff. A weekend at a remote cabin works well for that. We go to a wilderness hostel with friends, go hiking, skiing, bake cookies or make gingerbread houses, exchange some gifts, and celebrate Christmas the way we want to without the family obligations that come on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, itself, we always go skating in the afternoon, or else sledding. One year we celebrated Christmas on Boxing Day and went skiing on Christmas. That was awesome!” Tanya Koob
“For excessive eating, I recommend going to play outside with your family so you burn all that extra energy. It’s a great time for family outdoor activities. For the stress, remember that you are with your loved ones, so just enjoy each other’s company. No need to over-do or over-think things. Just have fun and enjoy spending times with family and friends.” – Antoine Valois Fortier
“I’m a runner and grew up with my Grandad and mom (also runners) making time for a Christmas Day run. I kept the tradition for a long time but with young kids and usually hosting Christmas dinner I haven’t done it for a few years. Now my youngest is 3.5 and more independent, so I’m thinking this is the year to start the tradition again.” – Kathryn Lagden
“Get out and have fun being active in different kinds of winter sports. Indoor or outdoor, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy the delicious food but be mindful of what’s best for your body as well; it’s okay in moderation.” – Tory Nyhaug
“Although every year I tell myself we will be more active leading up to Christmas, I just never get to the level of activity that I want. We kind of pick up that ball on Christmas day and run with it through to New Year’s. An annual tradition is to take my mom and daughter geocaching on Christmas day. It gets us outside for a great stress and energy burner while the turkey is cooking. New Year’s Eve we head to the city-sponsored event with ice skating, games, celebrating, and fireworks. We finish up the holidays with a New Year’s day activity — when we lived in Alberta it was cross country skiing, but since moving to BC we alternate between sledding close to the house or heading back downtown for a walk along the lake. And we also take part in the Salvation Army Jingle Bell run every year, too, to kick off December.” – Heather Gardiner
“During the holidays it’s time to get together and forget the routine and the problems for a brief moment to appreciate the people around you. Get outside and breathe the fresh winter air. Put on some warm clothes and get active. Start every day with an outside activity that will bring you joy and satisfaction. There is nothing better than coming back inside to warm tea with red cheeks and a smile to your ears. For me, it’s all about a good balance between friends, family, sports (I trade my skis for my skates for a couple of days) and reading.” – Philippe Marquis
“I’m a runner. A tradition I started two years ago was that I wanted to run my first kilometer of the year with my children. Since they love to run (6 and almost 4), it’s become a fun tradition on New Year’s day for us to do together no matter the weather. Starting off the year active together reminds all of us that it’s important to be active. “- Anna Sherwood
“Many years ago, my husband and I started a tradition of going skiing to Lake Louise on Christmas/Boxing Day. This was when we lived in Calgary and the ski hills would be empty, silent, and beautiful. Since we moved to Toronto that tradition has changed to going for a walk, or a morning of sledding with the kids, if the snow cooperates. I also find holidays to be a busy time with the family at home, and I end up getting pulled in many different directions all at once. Finding a few minutes of “quiet time” of my own every day really helps me feel rejuvenated and better able to enjoy the excitement of the holidays.” – Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
“We always add a gift that will get them outdoors Christmas afternoon. Since we don’t have friends and family to visit, it’s a great time to hit the ski area or toboggan hill as we are the only people on it.” – Holly LaRochelle
Share your tips with us in the comments!