A Mindful Approach to the Holidays

How to navigate the sweets, the parties, the overcommitting and the end-of-year stress.

Dryland Fitness Winter Park Director of Performance Katie Hardie share pro tips and recipes for launching into 2023 as your best self.

Approach the holidays with health and happiness — your Gravity Haus family is here for you.

Are your social, work and family calendars starting to feel a bit heavy? Parties, dinners, holiday traditions and travel tend to claim our time more in November and December, leaving us feeling stretched thin and stressed out.

That’s when the bad decisions creep in and we drink too many glasses of wine, eat all the cookies and pie and skimp on workouts and sleep. All of the sudden, it’s January 1 and we feel like shit. Bring on the New Year’s resolutions. Do you see the malicious cycle here?

Watch Your Sugar Intake

There’s an obvious sugar overload problem that unfolds between Halloween and New Year’s Eve. Since most of our foods contain added sugar — it’s in everything from bread to ketchup to plain yogurt these days — it’s important to be extra mindful about what you’re putting in your body.

Be mindful and be picky, Katie says. Choose one or two things and truly enjoy chewing and tasting them. “We don’t need every type of cookie. Let’s split one. The first bite is the rewarding part. Every bite after that is less and less rewarding.”

Stay Hydrated

Drink a ton of water this time of year. Many times we think we’re hungry, but we are actually just thirsty. Katie recommends front-loading your day with lemon water, tea, electrolyte water, apple cider vinegar water and just plain tall glasses of water. That way, you can avoid the dehydration headache that may crop up in the afternoon and skip the mindless eating and caffeinating we often call on to fill that water void.

Don’t Go Overboard

We get wrapped up in holiday parties. Before you leave the house and dive into alcohol, sweets and party mode, make sure your body’s nutrient needs have been met. Eat a light healthy dinner beforehand. Don’t depend on what’s on the potluck table to nourish yourself. At the party, pick one thing and savor it. Tell yourself “I’m truly going to enjoy this cocktail” and actually enjoy it. Be intentional and have a plan.

Focus on Goals (not depriving yourself)

It’s easy to get caught up in focusing on what we’re supposed to cut out or not do, Katie says. Try this instead: Write down one thing each day that’s going to support your health and put it on a sticky note where you can see it. This keeps you focused on your wellness journey in a positive way.

This could mean starting your day with 10 minutes of breathwork or a yoga class. Just pick one thing a day. Rather than listing out five things. “We have so many extras during the holidays, we don’t need to pile it on ourselves,” Katie says.

Recharge Your Batteries

Staying social during this darker, more isolating part of the year is important. Maybe your body is craving a snowshoe and a talk with a friend over that heavy HIIT class. Find balance between the go-go-go social commitments and quiet solitude. Try restorative yin yoga, read a book, give yourself a face mask and a bath. That way, when it’s time to connect with friends and family (and maybe that eek family drama), you have the energy to give.

Try meditation apps Calm and Headspace or give Katie’s fave Qi Gong moving meditations a try. “If  sitting still is a challenge, this is a great focused way to quiet your mind,” she says.

Dryland classes are here for you, too. Sweat, strengthen, tone and recover with Pow Prep, Enduro Zone, Squad Goals and hot tub, sauna time and cold plunge modalities. 

Make a Healthier Holiday Feast

Tasked with bringing an app to Friendsgiving? Katie is a board-certified nutritionist and suggests bringing a colorful crudité veggie plate with a fun homemade dip or deviled eggs made with avocado-oil-based mayo. Olives and nuts are great healthy snacks as well. 

Try Katie’s Favorite Healthy Potluck Recipes.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Dip

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced

1 (12 ounce) package frozen cooked winter squash puree, thawed and drained

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

salt to taste

Chopped fresh chives for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Coarsely chop the onions. Combine with squash, sour cream, yeast, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. Serve topped with chives, if desired.

Seed Crackers

1 cup whole flaxseeds

2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder or Kuzu

1.5 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup black sesame seeds

1/3 cup white sesame seeds

1/3 cup hulled pepitas

2 cups boiling water

Flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat up water on stovetop until it reaches a boil. In a medium bowl, add arrowroot or Kuzu powder and whisk in water until mixed. Add the rest of the ingredients except the flaky salt. Let sit for 15 minutes to firm up.

In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the flaky salt. Let sit for 15 minutes to firm up.

Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on baking sheet. Pour mixture and spread into thin layer with a spatula. Sprinkle with flaky salt and bake for 45 minutes. Break off pieces that are crispy and continue to bake the rest until all are done. You may want to flip them upside down. Allow to cool, then break the cracker into large pieces and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Paleo Ranch Snack Mix

1 cup plantain chips

1 cup almonds

1 cup walnuts

½ cup pepitas

1 tablespoon dill

½-1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 Tbsp Buffalo wing mix from Savory Spice

1/4 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt coconut oil. Add the nuts, seeds, and plantain chips to a bowl or zip top bag. Pour the coconut oil over the nut mixture and toss to coat. Add the seasonings and toss again until well coated. Spread on baking sheet and bake 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes and checking on them often to make sure they don’t burn! Enjoy!

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