STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY AMONGST THE CHAOS OF THE HOLIDAYS
December 8, 2016
The holiday season is officially upon us, and you know what that means……STRESS!!!! Well, I shouldn’t say that. There will be plenty of parties, laughter and good cheer, and time to reconnect with family and friends. But, let’s face it. Those good times can also take a toll on our personal wellness leaving many of us not only wanting, but needing, to refocus and recommit to our healthy lifestyles when the new year arrives.
It seems like we see these potential pitfalls coming every year and yet, we don’t take the proper steps to avoid them. Want to change it up this year and kick those bad habits by staying on track this holiday season? Here are five key things to think about to help make this season the most wonderful time of the year for your waistline!
I know this term might sound trendy right now, but the value of being present in the moment without judgment of one’s own feelings is so impactful at any time of the year, let alone when things start getting hectic. In fact, there’s even growing research showing that mental training can actually change the physical structure of your brain. Pretty cool, huh?
As a practitioner of holistic methods of health and wellness, I’m constantly advising my clients on ways they can be more mindful and present in the moment, more self-aware, and comfortable in their own skin and their own thoughts. There are numerous ways to work on this. Taking just five minutes a day to relax, align your thoughts, and concentrate on your breathing can have such a positive impact on reducing stress and sharpening your focus. For a great deep breathing exercise, try this – take a deep breath in for a count of two, hold for a count of two, then exhale for a count of two. Repeating this for just five minutes can yield some amazing results.
I know it’s chilly out there, but even a short walk outside without any set time or distance can do wonders for reducing stress and anxiety. Allow yourself to get outside and be alone in your thoughts, free of the stresses that might overwhelm you. Just dress warmly! Making either of these part of your daily routine will produce even greater results.
SWEAT IT OUT
Sometimes we need to just sweat it out! Maybe it’s your boss, a coworker, or your significant other who’s driving your stress levels up to 11. Getting rid of that stress and aggression in a safe and healthy way is exactly the way to go. There are so many ways that we can get those endorphins flowing to bring about that cathartic experience. For some of us, it’s a tough HIIT or strength training workout/class, for others it could be an hour of hot yoga or a long-distance run. While the intensity and duration of your activity might fluctuate, there should be one goal in mind. Sweat, release, recover, and repeat.
HOW YOU EAT AFFECTS HOW YOU FEEL
The food and drinks are the best thing about the holidays. I’m with you. But, you have to stay on track and not get off course here. It can happen quickly. Nights out are inevitable, and (unfortunately) the menus won’t be filled with kale salads and green smoothies. That’s okay, there are ways to truly have your cake and eat it too.
I’m a big believer in cheat days. By allowing yourself the opportunity to have those foods you crave, or that extra glass (or two) of champagne, you’ll minimize the feelings of guilt that can come from those indulgences because you know that you’ll get right back to your healthy eating habits tomorrow. You will, won’t you?
Of course you will. It will just take some extra focus from you, which you’ll be working on anyway by becoming more mindful (wink). Remember, it’s a cheat “day,” not “days.” Be extra strict on the days that you can easily control what you eat, when you eat it, and how it’s prepared.
Traveling can sabotage your healthy lifestyle and can have some of the most negative effects on your overall wellness. I know there will be plenty of travel for many of you this season. From a lack of sleep, unhealthy food options, and a lack of time and resources to get your normal exercise routine in, the excuses will be endless. But, you can overcome them when you plan ahead.
Make sure you’re also keeping your immune system boosted and your energy levels up by consuming enough vitamins and nutrients. That green juice or smoothie is even more vital during those days that you haven’t gotten much rest or when you haven’t eaten the best (or not much at all). If you’re feeling a bit run down as a result, it’s a great way to give yourself a healthy boost to keep you energized and feeling strong.
GET SOME ZZZZZZZ’s
Sleep continues to be the most overlooked component of personal health and wellness. Too many of us just don’t get in enough sleep at night. It’s also usually the first thing to be sacrificed when we’re pressed for time. A chronic lack of sleep can have some horrible effects on your overall health, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. On the flip side, getting in between 7.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep a night can help give your body the adequate rest it needs to recovery properly and recharge from the rigor and stresses of daily life. If you’ve had a late night out, make sure that you give your body some extra rest the following night by getting to bed an hour earlier than usual. If you’ve been go-go-go all day from the early morning hours, get to bed early that night. Sometimes resting is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself that day.
MAKE YOUR CALENDAR APP YOUR FAVORITE PHONE APP
I should be the person telling you to decompress, let go of living from appointment to appointment, make time for yourself, etc. That’s exactly what I want you to do, but I also want you to plan ahead. One of the simplest, yet effective, ways to stay on track is to keep a weekly food diary and an exercise log. I have all of my clients do it. It’s one thing to say that you’d like to work out this set number of days during the week, or that you’re going to try to eat well, and it’s whole other thing to follow through on those plans. Days and weeks can fly by, especially if we’re running around from place to place.
Start at the beginning of your week and plan ahead. Find the days of the week when you know you can fit in a workout and schedule it in your calendar. The same goes for your eating habits. If you know ahead of time that a particular day is going to be tough to stay on track because you’re traveling that day or that you have a major party to attend, don’t sweat it. We all have those days. This is the exact reason why cheat days are helpful and why I’m a such a fan of keeping a food diary. Seeing where you might have indulged too much on this day can positively influence your behaviors for the rest of the week. Indulging and enjoying yourself on a cheat day, while staying extra strict on non-cheat days, is a great way to manage your healthy eating habits throughout the holiday season while appreciating the time you spend celebrating with family and friends.
Remember, this is the time of year for thankfulness, togetherness, charity, joy and love. Keep that in mind as you’re also spending a little extra time on yourself, and you’re sure to have a very happy and healthy holiday season.