These 5 Holiday Gifts Can Put You on a Healthy Track

Every year I go through the same cycle. I start the year out strong, with loads of determination and healthy eating goals that I follow religiously for a few months. By the time summer rolls around, I start to get a little lax because of vacations, family barbeques, and other fun events. When the holidays arrive, I’ve usually gone up a size in clothing, but I’m jolly because I’m enjoying great food and great company. But once the holidays are over, I’m ready to get back into my healthy habits once again.

Does this cycle sound familiar to anyone else? Well, here we are at the end of the year again, and it’s time to get serious about healthy living. Fortunately, you can hint to your family members that you’re ready for some healthy holiday gifts that can help you reach your fitness and wellness goals. Here are five holiday gift ideas that can put you on a healthy track for the new year.

1. Wireless Earbuds

I want to do more outdoor exercising this year. Studies show that working out in the sunshine can not only boost your physical health, but your mental health as well! You can thank your body’s increased production of vitamin D for that.

To make exercising in the great outdoors more enjoyable, I’ve decided I need a quality pair of wireless earbuds. Though they’re expensive, they have great durability and can last up to 20 hours on a single charge. If you don’t own a pair yet, add wireless earbuds to your Christmas list.

2. Fitness Tracker

I used to think fitness trackers were unnecessary, but after seeing how informative they can be, I’ve decided they’re essential for tracking my healthy living goals. If you want to know how many calories you burn in a day versus many calories you consume, a fitness tracker should definitely be underneath your tree or in your stocking this Christmas! Some models will even track your sleep quality so you can make changes as needed.

3. Weight Set

Weights are cumbersome and can take up a lot of room, but they’re so helpful for building muscle strength and boosting bone density. I don’t have much room in my home for a big weight set, so I put one of those nifty compact weight sets on my Christmas list. They’re almost like nesting dolls, but in weight form so they take up minimal room and can easily be adjusted to get the perfect weight for each workout.

4. Yoga Mat

If you’re anything like me, floor work tends to put too much pressure on your knees, wrists, and back. That’s why I’m hoping someone in my family gifts me a nice, thick yoga mat this year. A yoga mat adds just enough padding to keep aching joints well-cushioned during floor workouts. Some mats come with their own holders so you can easily roll them up and take them to a designated storage location once you’re finished with them.

5. Foam Roller

After all your workouts, you’ll need a way to help your muscles recover. A quality foam roller is a great investment because it can minimize your post-workout recovery time and help you avoid excessive soreness. Foam rollers help break up knots in your muscles and facilitate better blood flow so you’re less prone to exercise-related injuries.

Not a bad wish list, if I say so myself! Feel free to steal some or all of these items for your own gift list this year. Most of the items on this list are much more affordable than a treadmill or other expensive piece of workout equipment. But they’re perfect for encouraging a healthier lifestyle and can help you meet your fitness goals.

3 Holiday Favorites Reimagined

The holidays are an especially difficult time when following a diet. It is a challenge to see everyone around you indulging in sweets and feel like you are missing out. Fortunately, there are ways to indulge in sweets without blowing your diet, and the following three recipes are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of healthy options.

1. Paleo Gingerbread Cookies

Nothing says the holiday season like gingerbread cookies. Unfortunately, too many recipes call for loads of sugar. This recipe, however, is paleo-friendly and doesn't sacrifice flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. Before cooking, wash the sweet potato and dry it. Spear with a knife a few times. Microwave until soft, typically five to six minutes.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, scoop out the insides of the potato. Add the molasses, ginger, cloves, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, coconut flour, and tahini. Start stirring to combine the ingredients; as the dough thickens, use your hands to continue mixing.
  4. Placing the dough on a baking sheet, shape individual cookies, approximately 1/4-inch thick and 2 1/2-inch diameter.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for a minimum of 10-minutes.

2. Apple Crisp

Apples are a healthy option, but they typically lose a lot of benefits when thrown into pies and desserts. This dessert maintains the nutrition and avoids a lot of the pitfalls of other sweets.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups apples peeled, sliced in 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

Crisp Topping:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°, and grease an 8x8 baking dish.
  2. Prepare the apples by peeling and cutting them into slices. Toss the apples in a bowl with cinnamon, melted coconut oil, and ginger and set aside.
  3. Mix all the ingredients for the crisp topping together in a separate dish.
  4. Layer the baking dish first with the apple mixture, followed by the crisp topping layer.
  5. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350°. Remove the cover and bake until apples are fork-tender with a golden brown topping, about another 10 to 20-minutes.

3. Pumpkin Spice Latte

Want to add a little oomph to your espresso? This recipe is healthy and flavorful, and it doesn't take too long to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup espresso
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

  1. Warm the almond milk in a suitable saucepan and whisk in the maple syrup, pumpkin puree, and spice. Combine thoroughly. There is no need to bring the mix to a boil.
  2. Make the espresso while waiting for the milk mixture to heat.
  3. To froth the mixture, you can use a frother or whisk vigorously in the pan.
  4. Finally, pour the milk mixture into a mug, top with the espresso, and enjoy.

There is no reason you can't enjoy the holidays with a sweet treat. There are plenty of healthy recipes out there, but these three represent some of the best.

What are your favorite holiday treats? Comment below.