Here it comes-- my favorite time of the year! We keep things simple around here, basking in the time we can just spend together and enjoying family meals, maybe a movie or two and walks in the park. With all three of my kids being grown ups now and living in different places, the most cherished gift is just having them all home! A few years ago, we decided not to do gifts anymore, just invest in a little better wine and ample healthy food stuffs, maybe catch the Nutcracker performance-- and I can't tell you how much this has lowered our pre and post-holiday stress! But stress can come in many forms; maybe it’s the fear of weight gain, or too little margin time in the schedule for self-care like exercise, gift-giving financial strains, or too much partying and not enough sleep. For some, it comes in feeling lonely and isolated without friends or family nearby. All of these can take a toll on us emotionally, mentally, and physically.
With all the glitter and the hustle-bustle, it’s easy to get so caught up in keeping up that we forget that everything important in life starts with taking care of our health - so we can feel good, enjoy the time we spend with others and have the energy we need for work and play. Adding extra weight over the holidays was something I used to battle until I learned some mindfulness strategies to put that behind me once and for all! Food has a lot to do with this of course, but there are several other issues that impact our health and well-being. I began to look at what was important to me about this time of year, and how well I was taking care of myself, body and soul. Here are some of the things I put into practice then that are just second nature now!
Holiday Thriving Tips:
Put people first. If the purpose of being together to make real connection, then people should be the centerpiece of the season, not food. Don’t get me wrong, delicious food is essential, but set your intention on putting people first and really enjoy them. This is guaranteed to cut a lot of unnecessary calories!
Fill up your tank. If you’ll eat a mini-meal that’s healthy and filling before a party, you’ll be less likely to over-eat those creamy dips, cheese and crackers, and meatballs covered in sauce. Going to a party when you’re starved, just like the grocery store, is never a good idea!
Plan your Resistance. Think beforehand how you’ll handle all the suggestions to load your plate up again, or what to say to people like your Aunt Kate who thinks you really need one more piece of pie. You’ll feel a lot more prepared to stand your ground. At the same time, let yourself have a desert or treat, but limit it to ONE and slowly enjoy every delicious bite! Do you really crave certain foods, like sweets or salty crunch? Contact me and I'll send you my Best U article on cravings, what they mean and how you can turn a negative into a positive reaction!
Bring your own. Prepare one or two healthy, flavor-filled side dishes that you love to eat and take them to your next get-together. Your host will be happy for the extra food and you’ll get to practice your culinary skills!
Make a plate. Instead of grazing at the hors d'oeuvres table, just go ahead and make a plate so you can have a better measure of what and how much you’re actually eating. Nutritional psychologists tell us that using smaller plates and bowls actually help us eat less.
Embrace a plant-based diet. Making fiber-filled veggies more of a centerpiece of your diet, with much smaller portions of meat and other foods, will help you get through the holiday season without the usual weight gain and bloat - and strengthen your immune system with all those antioxidants to stave off sickness. You'll also have a lot more energy and feel like going to that exercise class!
Drink one, chase one. For every glass of wine or alcohol you drink, drink one large glass of water. This will both fill you up and help you track how much you're drinking, because calories count, whether they’re in food or liquids. Water is always the most important drink to put in your body, and not getting enough hampers your metabolism and immune system.
Prioritize sleep. Settling in for that good night’s sleep is crucial for your body's restoration, rejuvenation and repair. If you want a kickin’ metabolism, balanced hormones, and less age lines on your face, sleep should be your best friend! If you or someone you love has sleep issues, check out this amazing Fresh Air segment on why sleep is crucial and how you can get your healthy share!
Reach out! Not wanting to appear needy can stop us from making wonderful connections with others at a time of year when it's easy to feel like an outsider. Just remember, we are here for each other and everyone has had to reach outside their comfort zones at different times in their lives. And maybe you can be the "connector' for someone else who needs a friend. Just keep your eyes, ears and heart open!
Share the season of brotherly love with yourself first. Be compassionate and kind to YOU. Practice self-care by starting the day with 10 minutes of mini-trampolining, a walk outside, stretching while deep-breathing, a green smoothie - just a few ideas that can help set the tone for your day. And then 3 to 4 days a week, pencil yourself in your calendar: take a yoga class, get in a workout at the gym or a hike in the park, or give yourself the present of a massage. These are reminders that you and your health are important, and this is what changes our mindset to create a healthier life. When you feel better, you enjoy others more - and isn’t that what we want to do over the holidays and all year round?
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Best U Specials!
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Be Well!--Carol (and Rob, Savannah, Dillon, Drew and Henry!)