Look what's here--my favorite time of the year! We keep things simple around the Frazier household-- loving the time we can just spend together and enjoy 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 a 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, could be gift-giving financial strain, 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 trying to keep up that we forget that everything important in life starts with taking care of our health - so that 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 and our weight!. I began to look at what was important to me about this time of year, and how well I was taking care of myself, and here are some of the things I put into practice then that are just second nature now!
Put People First. People and relationship should be the healthy centerpiece of the season, not food. Don’t get me wrong--delicious food is essential! --but set your intention on putting people first this year, and really enjoy warm conversations and heart-sharing. This is also 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 follow your intentions! At the same time, for goodness sake let yourself have a desert or treat, but limit it and slowly enjoy every delicious bite!
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 healthy culinary skills!
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! (p.s. 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!)
Share the season of brotherly love with yourself first. so you're more equipped to reach out to others! Practice self-care by starting the day with 10 minutes of mini-trampolining, a walk outside, stretching while deep-breathing, prayer and meditation, 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. Just little reminders that you and your health are important! This realization 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? Let's all share the season of brotherly love with someone outside our normal circles, because there are some who don't have family or friends nearby and may feel lonely and sad. Keep your eyes, ears and heart open to the possibilities of a new friend!
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Be Well! Carol