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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Kale and Kravings: Holiday health tips

Source: Sloane Chmara

It’s almost holiday time!

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, all of the above, or NONE, a few things are probably true for most of us:

  1. It’s getting cold outside and feels dark for a lot of the day.
  2. Leaving the warmth of our homes to go outside/to the gym is a struggle and a half.
  3. Holiday food is everywhere.
  4. Warm cookies sound delicious at every hour of the day.
  5. Being a couch potato sounds like a great occupation.

I, for one, am absolutely a spring/summer girl, and the cold is not my friend. However, that doesn’t mean that winter gets to ruin my mood or health goals! The holidays are so fun, and it’s a great time to reconnect with yourself, your family and your friends. It is also the perfect time to chill out! That being said, the list above can cause anxiety for some people, so I’m here to help you through it! Read on for my tips to get through the holiday season with joy, ease and lots of yummy food!

  1. Being cold and without sunlight can be sad. I love the sun! But, instead of letting the weather get me down, I choose to embrace the coziness and plan fun indoor activities with my friends: movie nights, face masks, holiday baking, etc. Even though it’s not the same as going to the beach, planning winter activities is my favorite way to have fun and embrace the changing seasons. I love lighting vanilla and apple scented candles or taking hot baths with epsom salts. Find local activities to do with your friends (ice skating, pumpkin patches, holiday shows) and embrace the brrrr.
  2. Walking outside to go to the gym sounds horrible when it’s snowing or raining and grey outside. That’s why I gravitate towards exercise classes that will warm me up fast – hot yoga, barre, and HIIT are my favorites right now. If you need motivation, grab a friend, bundle up like snowmen together, and go find a place to sweat! Don’t let the weather be an excuse for not getting your heart pumping and endorphins flowing.
  3. Ahhh holiday food. It is simply delicious, reminds us of (hopefully) wonderful times with family and friends, and a lot of it is loaded with butter, sugar and other things that make some of us feel way too full and bloated. So – how can we enjoy these foods while staying healthy and sane?
    1. Let go and accept that you won’t know all of the ingredients in every dish at your holiday party. That’s cool! You won’t die (unless you have a serious allergy, and then you should absolutely get an ingredient list!!). You also won’t gain 10 pounds. Relax.
    2. Choose a few things you want to taste instead of taking a portion of all 10+ dishes. Assess the holiday spread, take a deep breath, make your choices, and then go to serve yourself.
    3. Fill your plate with veggies first! This is a great way to ensure that you’re getting your greens, fiber, and nutrients. Pick up all the fun stuff after.
    4. Take smaller portions so you can try multiple dishes. If there are 3 options for main dishes that all sound amazing, don’t take a full portion of each. Share with a family member or portion out a smaller amount for yourself. Once it’s already on your plate, it can be hard to stop. Take action before hand and remember that your stomach can only hold so much food at a time.
    5. Stick to what you know your body can handle! If you know you can’t tolerate dairy, it’s probably not worth it to take a whole slice of pumpkin cheesecake. Instead, take a bite from your cousin’s plate or ask for a small sliver so you can have a taste. Don’t apologize for your food choices – nobody else SHOULD care about what you’re eating except for you!
    6. Remember what’s important. Do you care more about focusing your attention on the people you’re around, or your food choices? Hopefully it’s the latter – relax, let go, and remember why we celebrate holidays anyway.
  4. Holiday baking is so fun and there are usually lots of sweets involved with the winter months. Halloween brought us candy, Thanksgiving brings us pies, and December is filled with cookies galore! If you’re looking for some options that are lower in sugar, check out my recipes for these brownies, banana bread, chocolate bark and cookies. If you don’t really care (and that’s cool too!), then let yourself ENJOY those amazing cut-and-bake cookies and box mix brownies. They are delish! Stick to your wellness goals by eating an appropriate serving (1 cookie instead of 10) and choose to indulge in the sweets that you know will be worth it (i.e. not those gross sugar cookies from the local grocery store with the pink frosting and weird sprinkles).
  5. Being a couch potato seems to tie this blog post all together – a lot of people tend to lose motivation to accomplish their goals in favor of chilling and watching Netflix for hours. The holiday season is awesome because most of us do have more time to relax and reset. I am a huge supporter of sleep, rest days and max chilling. However, I love to use those rest days to fuel me so that I have the energy to take action and propel myself in my health/personal/career pursuits the next day. This is a great time to get creative, work on those passion projects, invest in your personal growth, and start something new. Some days, it’s cool to do all of that from your couch! But other days, you should get your booty up and out into the world and take action to make your dreams come true. Don’t wait until you’re writing your NYE resolutions to try something new or make revolutionary changes to your life – make a commitment to do it today. You’ll be surprised at how far you’ve progressed in your goals by the time 2019 rolls around.

I hope this helps to get you excited and prepared for this upcoming holiday season! You can get more recipes, tips & tricks on my Instagram and blog! For one-on-one support, feel free to visit my Wellness Coaching page at

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About the Contributor
Sloane Chmara, Former Author
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