|Oh to be young again! Circa 2001|
Have you ever noticed that cold and flu season starts at the same time as "junk food" season? There's a reason for that. Processed sugar and fake foods weaken your immune system and hurt your body's ability to fight of infections and viruses.
We are coming into the season of parties which means more eating and drinking. This is good fun and good for us, with the exception of an unhealthy temptation to eat and drink more than we should. Over the years I have collected and practiced some great and easy ways to stay disciplined and healthy over the holidays.
We just passed Halloween and for those of you with young children or grandchildren, you may have already been overcome by temptation (I was!). It's not too late! Start following just five simple ideas and you will arrive this January feeling great and ready to set your goals for 2017.
1) Prevention-With Christmas and other parties right around the corner you want to write a strategy for handling how you will eat in the weeks and months ahead. It's funny how us women will spend hours deciding which outfit we will wear, but rarely spend any time considering what we will eat or drink once we reach our party destination. Have a solid plan before you go. In fact it's a good idea to eat a healthy salad and drink lots of water before leaving your house. You won't feel as hungry once you get there and you won't be tempted to eat (as many of) those bacon and potato things or any other high calorie treat! If it's an appetizers and drinks only party, consider hanging around the fresh, raw food. You can't get in too much trouble if you first fill your plate with things like carrots and celery. Skip the dressing. Consider substituting your drink of choice with water every other time. Example: if you have a glass of wine then drink a glass of water before you imbibe in your second glass of wine. Same goes with soft drinks. Again, the water will make you feel fuller so you won't drink so much. Also, you will stay hydrated which is so very important. If you are going to a formal dinner party, try to eat half the plate only. No matter how good it is...eat half. Take one bite of the delicious desert then let it sit.
2) Relaxation-Shopping, decorating, hosting, baking, children's programs, and any number of things are added to our already busy lives this time of year. Make sure you carve out some time to center yourself each day. I like to spend time in prayer and meditation first thing in the morning, even if it's only five-ten minutes. If you control your stress levels as much as is possible, your body will react in healthier ways and your hormones, including your cortisol levels will stay more balanced. When you are stressed you actually pack on the fat, and who wants fat!? Join a restorative yoga class. I went to my first one last week. A friend of mine plays the cello while the instructor guides the participants to relax and restore. It was amazing and I felt relaxed and rejuvenated for two days after.
3) Optimism-This might sound trite or silly but it's important that you actually believe you can and will stay healthy over the holidays. The way you think affects your decisions and your decisions largely determine the rest. Picture the person you want to be going into the season. If there is something bothering you, figure it out now so you can be healthy not only physically, but also in top shape emotionally and spiritually. Make amends with that family member who is attending your Thanksgiving meal this year. Don't just tolerate them, actually find something good about the person and share it before they arrive this year. See them as God sees them. Talk gently and in a kind way about everyone, especially yourself. Be a peacemaker.
4) Options-Consider what has worked for you and what hasn't. If hosting your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner has caused you too much stress then think about doing it a different way. Go out to a restaurant this year. If you are a control freak who insists on preparing everything (because no one could possibly do it as well as you) think about letting go a bit by assigning dishes for each to bring to your house. You can even send out the recipe ahead of time if you can't let go any more than that! I've known hosts who are more concerned with everything being perfect than they are with showing love to their guests. If you are one of those then please think about what you can do to make everyone feel comfortable and loved. If you are too stressed and busy to spend at least a little time listening to a relative, a friend, or playing with your grandchildren, then you are doing it all wrong! People will not always remember how perfect your meal was but they will remember how you made them feel when they were in your home.
5) Fitness Goals-I know it's tough to stay on your exercise schedule when there's so much going on. My best advice is this: put your workouts in your calendar and keep them. When someone asks you to meet them at the mall and it conflicts with your plans to visit your gym, tell them so. You can meet them any other time but______(fill in the blank). Most people will respect you for taking care of your body and you will be a good influence too! Many of us work and it becomes even tougher to stick to a regular schedule of exercise when holiday extras are tossed in the mix. You might have to workout earlier or later than you normally do. This year don't be that person who only shows up to the gym on January 2. Start today...it will make a huge difference in your life. And remember.....
"If you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail." Dr. Robert H. Schuller
I am proof that the above strategies work!
If you need help with any of the above I am here to talk to you anytime. That's what I love to do!
Maybe you only need an hour or two of my time. Let me know by contacting me below. I'd also like to hear your stories and memories of holiday cheer. Please write to me.