The biggest mistake I believe people make through the holidays is to start eating better or exercising more after the holidays are over. Workouts get deferred until after all the holiday craziness has passed, and a healthy diet doesn’t start until the last of the cookies and candies have been tossed.

My advice: don’t wait. I get that you can’t make it into the gym each an every day – if at all, or that you have the option of eating foods you’d normally eat when your diet is on ‘health alert,’ but there are a few things that you can do each and every day to help keep you on track.

There is nothing worse than moving in reverse when it comes to your health. It takes much longer to rebuild a healthy, active body than it does to slow it down. Here are a few tips that will help you stay focused day in day out.  Print this out. Keep it in your purse or put it on your refrigerator. Regardless of what you do, keep healthy!

1. AM water: Drink 12 – 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning. You’re dehydrated and need it. Your metabolism will inherently improve and your body will simply operate better.

2. Don’t eat dessert for breakfast: After Thanksgiving, I was sent home with a loaf of banana. I’ll admit, it can be tempting to have a slice of bread with some coffee or tea first thing in the morning, after all it’s only ‘bread,’ right? Not so much. It’s a pastry. Eat a breakfast with much less refined sugar in the morning (think protein, healthy fat and complex carbs), and make sure the breakfast is right for your body type.  If you don’t, you’ll likely be hungry within a couple hours of eating – and that’s no fun.

3. 30 minute activity rule: Travel can throw off any good exercise plan, so take the stress off of thinking you have to make it into the gym every day or most days of the week, and let your body do all the work from home. I recently posted a body weight workout that can be done in 30 (or so) minutes. It’s good, effective and will keep your tushy in shape for your cute holiday outfits.

4. Veggie bowl once a day: Once a day, every day fill up a cereal bowl with vegetables…raw, preferably – and eat them. Instead of grabbing for a piece of chocolate when hunger sets it, go for veggies. I know this sounds like boring advice, but if you plan by having your favorite chopped veggies in the fridge, and a bowl on hand that’s handy, you’re much more likely to follow through with this. Sure, you can indulge every now and then in a holiday treat, but at least one snack a day will be nutrient-filled…and filling for you, too. Check out the cereal bowl diet I posted over the summer for tips on how to stick to this.

5. Stop eating two to three hours before bed: Eating just before you hit the sack is the kiss of death, particularly for “Pear Types,” or those of us who carry body fat through the bottom and thighs. Say no to that handful of chips, candy or [fill in the blank with your fave nighttime snack.]

Nope, this wasn’t a 20-point list, but by doing these five, your body will be in much better shape by January 2nd than it would be if you opted to avoid water, forgo exercise, eat pastries for breakfast, ignore veggies and eat before bedtime…ALL of which can sabotage anyone’s plan for diet and exercise.

About Traci

Traci D Mitchell is a nationally-recognized Chicago-based nutrition coach and personal trainer featured on the TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. As the trainer for Steve Harvey’s Bridal Bootcamp, Traci keeps herself busy by challenging others to be the healthiest they can be. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and private coaching. Interested in working with Traci? Get info here. To keep up-to-date,  subscribe to her newsletter.

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