This is definitely my favorite time of the year! I love being with friends and family for special meals and outings together, as well as just hanging out. But for many of us, me included, this season brings some extra stressors - maybe it’s the fear of weight gain, or no margin time in the schedule for self-care, financial strains, or too much partying and not enough sleep. This 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 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! 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. Food has a lot to do with this of course, and with no shortage of munching and drinking possibilities, it's important to make sure we pay attention to our caloric consumption. When we’re so busy talking and laughing that we forget how much we’re actually eating, our taste buds may not even know what’s passed by them (which is a real shame!) but our hips will!
Here are a few Holiday Thriving Tips I’ve learned along my health journey:
Put people first. If the purpose of being together is really to make connections, 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!
Bring your own. Prepare a couple of 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. Makings veggies the 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 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!
Share the season of brotherly love with yourself first. Practice self-care by starting the day with 10 to 15 minutes of mini-trampolining, a brisk walk, 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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