If your family growing up was anything like mine, the idea of doing something healthy or active in the time between Halloween and Valentine’s Day was a big no-no. Swiss Colony boxes showed up regularly with those processed cheese-like foods that lived in the fridge nearly year-round. Even though we lived in Arizona, I’m pretty sure my Mom thought I would get frostbite if I ventured outside. The closest I got to physical activity was volunteering through the National Honors Society to help man the water stations at a 5k for asthma or heart disease. That last one I still highly recommend, but I’ve since learned that if I want to avoid the Fall/Winter 20 (pounds) I need to figure out how to start some new healthy holiday traditions.
1. Cookie Exchange
I too know what it’s like to see the multitudes of cookie recipes out there this time of year. You have your sugar cookies cut into sweet little shapes, classic chocolate chips, and even oatmeal raisins start to sound enticing. If you make a batch of each kind you’re craving, you’ll end up eating cookies for breakfast just to get rid of them come December.
Whether you host a Cookie Exchange Party or trade part of your stash with some coworkers, this is a great way to get all the flavors of the season without trying to figure out just how much butter is in 9 dozen shortbreads.
2. Or a Baked Good Offloading
If you really love the time you spend baking, plan to give the majority of them away. I love bringing baked goods to work, sending Mr Never Cooks off to his job with them, or donating them to an organization called Potluck in the Park for people who are food-insecure.
Bonus: You quickly become beloved in your office or you get to help those in need. Either way is a major win.
3. Turkey Trot
I had never heard of this before a couple of years ago, but many cities big and small host an annual 5k called a Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving. In Portland, there’s one hosted by the Oregon Zoo with proceeds going to fund programs there.
You definitely don’t need to sign up for anything official to make this a tradition. A nice run or long walk with family or friends does the trick! And you can still work in the donation-aspect if you have the Charity Miles app.
One of my favorite winter breaks started with a family friend ringing our doorbell and asking if I wanted to go volunteer with kids at her church. I didn’t grow up religious, but I jumped at the opportunity to break up the monotony of my days with something fun. Since then, I’ve realized that volunteering is a great way to give structure to your holidays when you want it. Instead of mindlessly snacking while watching made-for-TV Hallmark movies non-stop (there’s always a place for them in my heart, of course) you can have fun and participate in your own way.
5. Healthy Gifts
I’m going to be putting together a list of health & fitness related gifts I’m eyeing this year soon, so keep an eye out for that! I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I feel more comfortable letting people know what sorts of gifts I’d find most useful for my own life. While I still enjoy getting a box of chocolates, I’ve managed to avoid the piles of gift cards to fast food and the bags of Kit-Kats.
If you’re less comfortable with being direct, a subtle way to start this trend is to give gifts in the realm of what you might want to receive (while keeping in mind your recipient’s tastes). Experiences are a great gift and come with so many different possibilities! Escape rooms, city scavenger hunts and tickets to the art museum or zoo are great examples.
If you’re interested in more ideas, I also have posts on how to stay healthy during Fall events and why you should try a health & fitness challenge this season.
Let me know if you have any fun holiday traditions your family or friends enjoys! Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!