The holidays can kill your diet and workout routine. But they don’t have too!
Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass challenges us all to
create healthy family traditions that will strengthen your body, instead of
weighing it down.
On any normal day, I would never eat 3 servings of dessert… but during the
holidays? Yep. There’s a good chance that might happen. That’s because I
have to have a piece of my mom’s famous bread pudding (that she only
makes for Christmas… come on!) and I have to eat my weight in cheese
because those darn cheese balls only come around once a year…. Anyway,
you get the idea. Because the holidays and our special traditions tend to do
this to us, it’s extremely worthwhile to try a few new things in hopes of
adding balance to current family traditions. We have to find a way to counter
balance the extra food… we just do! It’s not realistic or fun to say you can’t
have your traditional, once-a-year types of foods, but it is realistic to
experiment with one “new” tradition each year.
Traditions don’t change unless we make subtle, baby steps to create new
ones. Don’t change up your entire holiday experience, but consider trying
one new thing this holiday season. Here are a few ideas:
1. Try a new family activity that doesn’t involve food
· Get your groove on with Dance Dance Revolution, Dance Central, Wii Fit
or other video games.
· Enjoy a half-day of skiing (like the morning after Christmas, or Christmas
eve… or even the “1st Friday after Christmas”. Set a date and keep it every
· Go to a rec center and play a family game of basketball, racquetball,
tennis or try an aerobics class. If you don’t have a membership, pay for a
guest passes! These activities are fun, bonding and healthy! They are worth
the few bucks.
· Go for a winter walk or have an annual sledding party (see who can climb
the hill the fastest – and pick a big hill!)
· Be adventurous – as a family! Try something new that none of you have
ever done before: snowshoeing, ice-skating, a new workout DVD, an old
workout DVD from the 70’s… whatever, just think fun!
2. Have an annual fitness competition
· You can do this with a competitive active game (like Dance Revolution, a
game of basketball, etc) or you can do a full on fitness competition.
· If you do this with a game, have your winners get something that doesn’t
cost money… like a week off of dishes, a foot massage, etc.
· If you want to do a basic fitness competition, here’s a good fitness test:
Push ups: reps____________ time____________
Sit ups: reps____________ time____________
Plank: how long can you hold?____________
Wall squat: how long can you hold?____________
Stair steps: reps____________ time____________
The point? See who can do the most reps (push ‘til you drop; who can do the
longest amount of time; or who does the most reps in ‘x’ amount of time.
You can position it however it best works for your family. But the point is to
have fun, don’t take it to serious… and do it every year so you can strive to
improve your score/standing.
3. Try ONE new recipe EVERY year
· Give this some structure. Assign one member of your family to bring the
“new recipe” to the annual family party/meal. Oh and it needs to be a
“healthy” recipe. It’s fun to try new things, and it’s a perfect way to work
healthier traditions into those so-hard-to-let-go, less-healthy options. This
brings balance to the dinner table. You can still have those calorie-laden
favs when there are lighter options on the table to create some balance.
· If you try it once and the family doesn’t like your new recipe… who cares!
You can try a new recipe next year! Chances are, you’ll find some fabulous
new dishes to bring more nutrition to your holiday fare… for the benefit of
Here’s my new recipe for this year:
Butternut Squash with Pumpkin Seeds & Cranberries
*Source: Nutrition Action, November issue 2011
Prep time: 15 minutes
1 lb. butternut squash, cut into ½-inch dice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. pomegranate juice or orange juice
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
3 Tbs. dried cranberries
You can also use half beets, half butternut squash.
Steam the squash until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain any water. (I like to roast
the squash for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees to make it crunchier… but
that is optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, juice, salt, and oil. Toss
the squash in the bowl with the dressing. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds
Yields 3 cups.
4. Add hummus dip to your appetizer table
· Hummus has half the calories and fat of regular cheese or cream dips.
Half! That’s 50% less artery clogging fat, 50% less calories that add up bite
after bite, and 50% less exercise you have to do down the road to burn off all
those creamy dips.
· Hummus dips are delicious with fresh crisp vegetables… saving you even
more calories! (Hummus is great with crackers too.) Check this out:
10 sticks of celery: 6 calories
4 Tbsp hummus: 106 calories / 5 grams fat
10 crackers: 160 calories
4 Tbsp cheese ball: 200 calories / 14 grams of fat
That’s 112 calories vs. 360 calories… a huge difference for your health that
comes from a tiny change, that is frankly, just as delicious.
4. Make a massive fresh fruit bowl… as a family
· This is honestly a great way to put a bunch of people to work in the
kitchen. Everyone takes one fruit, cleans it, cuts it and tosses it into a
massive bowl for the entire family to enjoy over 2 – 4 days. Try these fruits:
o Blackberries or blueberries (these are too easy, just wash!)
· People will eat fresh fruit as a snack or as an extremely healthy side dish
if it’s in front of them. Fresh fruit bowls can take a lot of time to prepare, but
if you do it as a family and make a big bowl… it benefits everyone over
crucial days where we tend to eat way too much.
I love to hear from viewers! J Please email me if you have any fitness, diet or
health questions: email@example.com