There’s no denying that this time of year is magical – holiday lights and music, the first snowfall, and children’s unrestrained glee all make this season so special. What’s not magic, though, is that all of our merrymaking during the holidays doesn’t change basic math: Calories in = Calories out is still the equation for maintaining weight … even during the holidays.
I hate to be a Snack Scrooge, but I see first-hand how hard my fellow Solvers work all year long to eat healthy and stay fit. And I’d hate for too many extra eggnogs to undo their progress! I know you care about supporting your colleagues’ health as well; so, here are my top four ways to say, “Healthy Holidays!”
“O come, all ye healthful.” During December, host a challenge to drive employees to make healthy decisions while competing with their coworkers. The possibilities are endless: Step challenges, nutrition “points” for daily servings of fruits and vegetables, most consecutive days without sugar and/or alcohol – get imaginative! Keep it lighthearted and ensure that all employees have the ability to participate if they wish. Participants that see the challenge through to the end of the month could receive a company water bottle or an “I Survived the Healthy Holidays” t-shirt. Winners could receive a gift card to keep up their good work – a free class at a local gym, or to buy new sports/fitness gear.
“Walking in a winter wonderland.” Most of us in the work world sit all day long, not giving our bodies the opportunity to stretch and get the blood flowing. Research from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus suggests that taking five short walk breaks during the work day correlates to being happier and more energized. So, rather than always meeting in a conference room, consider taking the meeting on the road. Bundle up in those ugly holiday sweaters and take a few laps around the parking lot – weather permitting – to both increase energy and boost spirits during the long winter days. Encourage your leaders to set the tone by committing to one walking meeting a week.
“There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting.” Of course, while Calories in = Calories out is rule No. 1, “Everything in moderation” is a close second. My whole job is promoting healthy eating, and even I know it’s almost impossible to turn down every single slice of pie, cup of hot cocoa, or frosted cookie. However, instead of a constant stream of baked goods through your company kitchen or breakroom this month, coordinate a cookie exchange party for one afternoon. Ask employees to use this day to bring in their favorite cookie or holiday baked goods. Then, use your party as a time to unwind, connect with one another and take home a tray of diverse baked goods. Employees won’t feel deprived of the sweet holiday treats, but they can enjoy them in a more moderate way.
“Sleep in heavenly peace.” With a packed schedule of holiday parties and staying up late to shop or wrap gifts, it’s still important to get enough rest. As our Chief Strategy Officer Rae Shanahan shared earlier this month, encourage your employees to unwind and lead by example. Remind them that the holidays are a time to connect with family and loved ones, and recharge their mental and emotional batteries. Getting enough rest can also lead to healthier eating and lifestyle choices, and reduce your risk of illness – all gifts you can get for free this holiday season!