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Healthy, strong, and relaxed during the Winter holidays

It’s about that time, overeating holiday time! A time to overeat, hibernate and prepare for a long winter full of food scarcity and hard work.  Except for we do not live in those times any more and rationing is no longer mandatory for survival (those who recently experienced megastorm Sandy, respectfully excluded). Neither is running away from predators.  Alas, no need to fret, we can still adapt to our modern luxuries.  With a little planning you can stay strong, healthy, and relaxed even during the holidays.

First things first: Do not rely solely on your will power.  Everyone overestimates just how much will power is truly available when it comes to rejecting mami’s cooking, and favorite desserts and holiday cocktails.  Just assume that you will be having seconds and possibly thirds, not to mention leftovers.

Now that we agree, here’s what you can do to stay on track with your fitness goals throughout the upcoming holidays…

Burn Calories First: This strategy is malleable depending on the holiday and setting.  For example, if you know you’ll be spending Thanksgiving with friends, complete your workout before you are scheduled to arrive (give yourself time to shower of course).  Many gyms are open on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and you can make a self-care day of it by sneaking in some sauna time or even a massage.  Second, if you know you’ll be hosting or traveling to spend time with relatives, double up on your exercise during the previous week.  This will help you stay on your fitness track and help you relieve some of the hosting or traveling stress.

Go H2O or Go Home: Staying hydrated is important, but what’s crucial when you are surrounded by delicious food is to stay full or at least full-ish.  Drinking as much water as possible throughout the day curbs temptation to overeat.  It also helps balance your cocktail and sweetened beverage intake as well as it increases your bathroom break volume, which can turn into Facebook break time or meditation time.

Mum’s the Exercise Word: If you are serious about accomplishing your fitness goals, avoid sharing these goals with your loved ones during the holiday festivities.  There are a few reasons for this.  As soon as you share that you are managing your portions, your family will assume you are starving yourself and there will be a lot of pressure put on you to break your portion control plan.  It’s just what families do, out of love of course, but nevertheless that’s what you should expect.  In addition, after the pressure will come your own self-awareness, perhaps even a little guilt.  Am I not eating enough? Am I being rude? Am I disappointing my tia so and so by not finishing her 3 leches cake even though I can’t eat another bite?  Bottom line, keep your fitness goals to yourself for now and avoid an emotionally ignited (totally based on love) fitness -Ahi Dios Mio It’s Not That Deep- style roller coaster.

Finally, remember to create your contingency plan based on what you truly know about yourself.  What will you do in the likely case you stray off your fitness path for a day or two, perhaps a week? Will you double up on exercise the following week? Will you simply enjoy every bit of 3 leches with pleasure and skip the rest of the desserts? Will you just surrender and leave that night behind as if the encounter with the 3 leches, the flan, the pavo, the pernil and the arroz con guandules never happened? Whatever you decide, remember that straying off the path is your choice because whether you stray off or not, you are the only one who has the power to get right back on it.  So enjoy and remember: Winter IS coming...and it’s not so bad.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Why reject? Why not just indulge rationally? Our traditions are beautiful around christmas, why do we need to deny ourselves? I dunno, I am coming from this from the perspective of eating healthy the majority of the time so maybe that is not everyone’s experience.

  2. You can be healthy, strong AND relaxed and still eat pasteles on noche buena

  3. how I miss my mother’s cooking and my father’s coquito.

  4. helll no and I don’t plan on saying no to any foods. That’s pretty much how I live my life. Eat what I want when I’m hungry, but if I’m not hungry, I don’t eat.

  5. Hey y’all eat what you want cause Michelle Obama is gonna be chomping on the ribs and French fries no matter what she tells us is healthy or not.

  6. Saying no to coquito is against my religion.

  7. So far I’m 0-24 in saying no to extra food…. Maybe this year I will be 1-25 haha

  8. Saying yes to mamis cooking IS how I stay strong and relaxed during the holidays. The rest of the year is for healthy.


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