Amazing how fast time goes when you’re #OnAQuest, isn’t it? Have you glanced at the calendar lately… flabbergasted?!? I sure am! The holiday season is here and that means it’s time to get ready for timeless traditions, family get-togethers, great times, and an overabundance of calorie dense, delectable foods!
For years, I used to eagerly await the holiday season to overindulge in Mom’s array of rich, flavorful foods and Grandma’s mouthwateringly delicious desserts. However, as time passed – and I became more cognizant of my health, fitness, and the obesity and diabetes epidemic – I began to dread responding to the family pressure to overeat the way I use to!
Now don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE the holidays and I do eat, but it’s not the same it once was. I’ve tactfully shared with my family how I feel and discussed my health and fitness goals with them. I’ve carefully expressed my concern for the country’s struggle against obesity and diabetes (and my personal struggle with being pre-diabetic) while also expressing how I want to live a fit and healthy lifestyle.
These conversations led me to question our traditions – how did it become our tradition to overeat, watch movies, doze off, eat more food, and then go out to see another movie?! I asked, why don’t we try something new? Why don’t we try establishing a new tradition? A positive, healthy tradition… I thought, maybe it’ll be fun!
At first, my suggestion for establishing new traditions wasn’t well-received because they loved our old traditions so dearly. But, I don’t want you to banish old traditions. In fact, I encourage traditions – they give us a sense of identity, culture, value, comfort, and something to look forward to! However, this year I’m encouraging you, your family, and friends to try establishing new traditions in addition to the old – ones that foster an active, creative, and fit lifestyle! Traditions that you can establish for the future health and well-being of your family!
Here are a few unconventional suggestions that I’ve tried to make new traditions in my family and they were joyfully embraced and successfully adopted as new traditions!
• Incorporate a post-holiday meal family hike or walk
Numerous studies have found that a brisk walk after a meal can aid with digestion, increase weight lose, decrease your risk of type-2 diabetes, and lower post-meal blood sugar levels! Need more reasons? Exercise, even a brief, 15 minute walk, can drastically improve your mood, increase energy levels, alleviate stress, prevent cognitive decline, and boost self-esteem – and the list goes on! Most importantly, though, you are establishing a healthy tradition and potentially inspiring others to do the same! And when was the last time you went for a walk with Grandma?!
• Try bringing a healthy dish to share… perhaps a cooking clean contest!
If you attempt this suggestion, I strongly encourage you to integrate it slowly. It’s understandably very common for family members to want the traditional foods at the holiday table. Thankfully, this suggestion doesn’t replace any of the staples; it merely offers an alternative option.
In my case, it all began with simply bringing a salad to start things off and a vegetable dish that wasn’t slathered in butter! Surprisingly, it was a TOTAL hit – I didn’t bring enough!!! Often times, family members don’t want the traditional foods, but are reluctant to say it in fear of being bombarded with questions, or risk insulting family tradition, or more terrifyingly, insulting the chef! Grandma and Mom can be quite intimidating. LOL
This new tradition is now well-established with my family. Now, every holiday family members eagerly look forward to the alternative dish and others bring healthier options as well. Therefore, we have more variety, which has led to the family eating less of the unhealthier foods. Recently, we even dared to enter the realm of offering healthy dessert alternatives…but you don’t have to go that far! As I’m sure you can guess, this year I’ll be offering a Quest inspired dessert!
If you have a competitive family, make it into a taste-testing contest. Encourage family members to get creative, have fun, and bring a healthy dish for all to try and vote who brings the best! Perhaps the winner can get a Quest bar! 😉
• Establish an Annual Game or Outdoor Activity
Implementing an annual game goes over very well if you have competitive family, lots of children in the family, or a bunch of big (read: adults) kids in the family! Naming the event can be fun and allow for originality! ☺ Making a tradition of an annual football, kickball, volleyball, soccer, or whatever activity/sport you like can be a great way to stay active, fit, and healthy during the holidays. Moreover, it can build excitement and create a change of pace and the ability to demonstrate good sportsmanship in the family!
I know what some of you are thinking, but I live in the coldest region on the planet!!! Well then, embrace what you are given and make the most of it. Dress accordingly and go cross-country skiing, build a snow man, or create the winter Olympics in your backyard! Have fun with it! Maybe it’s too hot where you’re from. How about some family surfing or swimming? You get the point, embrace the weather and enjoy yourself!
• Pre -meal workout session
This suggestion is on a slightly smaller scale – it’s not necessarily an entire family ordeal! This is now one of my favorite holiday traditions and one I ALWAYS look forward to! My brother and I have made it a ritual to work out before our holiday meal. It’s not only a great way to stay physically and mentally healthy, but also an excellent way to ensure that the calories you are about to consume are put to good use! Plus, it’s nice to get some quality time with my brother. Additionally, I know some individuals struggle physiologically with eating these meals that don’t align well with their respective diet and this can potentially help put your mind at ease!
The beauty in all these suggestions is they encourage you to think about being healthy. Consider this scenario… you’re at the table eating and all the other family members (whether it’s kids, parents, or big kids/adults) are talking about how excited they are for the post-meal activity…do you think you’ll be more or less likely to take that 2nd, 3rd, or 4th helping? ☺
So this year, try establishing new traditions in addition to your old ones. Traditions that are fun, health-centric, and something you’d be proud and honored to pass on to generations to come while they’re #OnAQuest!!!
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