With temptations around every corner during the holidays (just try to name a holiday party that didn’t serve cookies!), it’s no wonder many of us fell off the wagon with our healthy habits.
If this sounds like you, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Sometimes all takes is one bad slip to send us down the rabbit hole of unhealthy practices (like eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner or staying up too late every night binging the new season of You).
The good news is you can still ease back into your healthy routine, one step at a time. Thanks to these amazing tips from several health experts, you’ll be hitting the reset button on the holiday season and emerging in the New Year feeling refreshed — game on!
1. Increase your hydration
Looking to make a major splash in your health? The first order of business is to guzzle down enough H20. “Drinking enough water can help improve energy levels, digestive functioning, flush out toxins and more,” says Dr. Jerrica Sweetnich, ND, CNS. She recommends taking in half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.
2. Set a sleep schedule
Dorothy may have said there’s no place like home in The Wizard of Oz, but anyone who spent the holidays sleeping on a cot with a snoring relative next to them knows that there’s no place like sleeping in your own bed.
If this was your reality during the holidays, you’re past due for a major sleep intervention. From here on out, you’ll want to aim for as deep a sleep as possible each night to replenish your body from the hours of sleep missed. Luckily, “There are lots of detoxification pathways that are only active in deep sleep,” says Caitlin Self, MS, CNS, LDN.
Getting on a sleep schedule means reaping health benefits in other departments, too. “Having less than 7 hours of sleep can actually impact hunger controlling hormones, leading to an increase in cravings and not feeling satiated after a meal,” explains Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, NMD, naturopathic doctor and founder of NMD Wellness of Scottsdale. “Having daily routines help us to organize and plan our day better, which can impact how were prepping and/or meal planning.” (While you’re at it, make Vital Proteins Sleep Collagen Shots part of your bedtime routine!)
3. Prepare meals
Set yourself up for success by taking at least one day a week to prepare healthy meals, recommends Dr. Zenhausern.
You’ll also want to remove any temptations from your fridge or pantry. “Make it a priority to take all of the unhealthy temptations out of your home to avoid late-night or mid-day snacking,” says Dr. Zenhausern. “Swap them for healthy options, such as avocados, nuts, fruit and vegetables.”
4. Eat Your Greens
If you feel like you spent your holidays at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory based on the amount of snacking you did, you’re not alone. “During the holidays, we’re not only eating the wrong foods, were also eating them in excess,” says Dr. Sweetnich.
To balance the body in nutrition once again, vegetables are the perfect place to start. For this, try what is called the “1-2-3 method.” You simply “have 1 colorful vegetable with breakfast, 2 colorful vegetables with lunch and 3 colorful vegetables with dinner,” she explains to Lively.
Not sure which veggies to pack your plate with first? Dr. Sweetnich recommends cruciferous veggies aka micronutrient powerhouses, such as kale, broccoli and cauliflower. “They contain phytochemicals that help our detoxification systems, increase antioxidant levels, balance hormones and more,” she says. You can also expect to feel fuller from these veggies since they’re full of fiber.
5. Schedule healthy habits
If you find yourself constantly choosing Netflix over your workout or a trip to the grocery store, it might be time to give your healthy habits a different approach.
A great way to do this, explains Dr. Zenhausern, is to schedule your healthy habits, just like you would an important appointment or meeting: “Take a moment to sit down with your calendar in front of you and make an appointment with yourself to exercise, grocery shop and sleep. The best way to stay consistent with healthy habits is making those habits and not tasks on your to do list. Put yourself on your own schedule so you can make time to be consistent.”
6. Master your nighttime routine
While the mornings are super important for starting your day off right, a lot of success also comes from what you do – or don’t do – every evening before bed. “We often talk about the importance of a morning routine and although this is very important, a nighttime routine is a critical way to maintain your healthy habits,” says Dr. Zenhausern.
She recommends taking the evenings to complete any tasks that will make those busy mornings run more smoothly. This could mean packing your gym and lunch bag, filling up your water bottle or laying out tomorrow’s outfit. With these tasks done ahead of time, you can spend more time in the mornings doing things you love, whether that’s doing yoga or simply sleeping in a little longer.
7. Avoid cleanses
While a cleanse might sound like exactly what your body needs after days and days of overindulgence, we encourage you to reconsider. “Our body knows how to eliminate toxins by normal body functions which include sweating, breathing and urinating, so I’d say sweat and stay hydrated!” explains The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss author and nutritionist, Rania Batayneh, MPH.
Plus, cleanses don’t do as much good as we may think. “Contrary to what you may think, you don’t get a clean slate after a cleanse,” Batayneh explains. “You actually get a modified slate.”
8. Get moving
If your only form of exercise during the holidays was sprinting through the mall, then now is the time to get moving again! “Keep it simple by parking a little father away from the grocery store, take the stairs at work, take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV or wake up 30 minutes earlier for light cardio or yoga,” recommends Tawnie Graham, RDN.
9. Take time to decompress
While most holiday songs tout the season as being a joyous time, the truth is that is can actually be very stressful. There are crowded shopping malls, more financial burdens than you bargained for and even family stress.
It's important to chill out at the start of the year. “Take time to relax: Read a book, meditate, practice yoga, journal, take a bath,” recommends Graham. “The beginning of the year can be stressful and loaded with goals. Having a healthy mind and spirit is important to having a healthy body!”
10. Start small
“I always tell my clients to start here: do one big thing and don't overload yourself with a thousand goals,” says Self. “Say, right now I'm going to focus on ____ and then commit to it for at least 21-30 days!” This could look like 21 days of yoga, 21 days of reading more or even 21 days or no alcohol. That’s the beauty of goal setting; it’s completely up to you.