Happy Holidays! Yes, we are right in the middle of the holiday season and once again it’s the shortest amount of time possible between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For me, hearing that immediately stresses me out and makes me start thinking about everything that needs to get done. The house needs to get decorated, the cards need to get done (and addressed and sent!) , lots of gifts, shopping and people to remember , holiday parties and SO MUCH MORE! It’s really easy to get caught up in the season and forget about the #1 most important thing in your life- YOUR HEALTH. I had a nice big reality check last week as I came down with the 24 hour stomach flu and literally could not get out of bed for an entire day. That really puts into perspective that if you don’t take care of yourself and your health suffers you will never get anything done (which totally defeats the purpose!) So, I felt compelled to write a blog post about keeping your SELF , and your health, front of mind this holiday season. The two main components, because the are the easiest for YOU to control are Exercise and Nutrition.
First- lets talk exercise. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! 🙂 Even if you think you are too busy- there is always time to fit in exercise. Even if you have only 10-15 min that day- do something. Moving your body will immediately elevate your mood and release endorphins to help you better handle your day. Also, exercise releases toxins and helps boost your immunity by keeping you strong. I typically workout first thing in the morning just so I don’t have it looming over me all day long. But, that of course requires you to get to bed at a decent hour so you are fresh and ready to go early in the morning before work or kids get up. Take a moment to think about your priorities and WHY you stay up late at night. Your exercise, and your health, is much more important than surfing the internet for deals, or watching your favorite show. Get to bed and start your day right! If you just can’t make it work in the morning you can schedule it into your day- just like you would any other appointment. Make a deal with yourself that if you don’t exercise you cant _______. This might sound silly but I fill in that blank with “shower”. If I didn’t workout in the morning I will tell myself that I can’t take a shower until I do exercise. Sometimes, that leaves me sitting at my desk at 2:30pm knowing my kids get off the bus in an hour and I have to take them to dance soon after. If that’s a “rule” I made up for myself I better get my workout in so I can shower and don’t need to show up to their dance class still looking like I just rolled out of bed! For you it might be ” I can’t watch TV until I’ve worked out” or “I can’t look at Facebook, or send any texts until I’ve workout today”. You get the point- something that is your rule to make sure you move your body each day. Doesn’t even matter how long you workout. Typically you should aim for 3-4 really good sweat sessions per week of about 30-45 min. But if you only have 10 min today- go walk up a bunch of stairs in the stairwell of your office or do a quick little body weight workout like this:
10 jumping jacks
10 push ups
10 star jumps (touch toes and then jump up as high as you can-reaching for the stars )
10 mountain climbers (each leg)
10 tricep dips on a chair
10 reverse lunges (each leg)
10 body weight squats
Hold Plank for 1 min (spiderman legs are optional)
Rest 1 min
Repeat as many times as you can in either 10, 15, 20 or up to 45 min if you have the time today!
Ok, now that you are ready to commit to fitting in exercise on most days and you see how easy it can be- let’s get to the next part
Yes, I said Nutrition on purpose and not DIET. Its pretty clear that this is the time of year where most people let their diet go out the window and for the average American people gain between 5-8 lbs in the 4 week period. CRAZY! Don’t let this happen to you. It’s not good for your health- mental or physical. First of all, since you are NOT going to be skipping your workouts each day you already have part of the equation. Now, of course during this time of year you are just naturally going to be around more food and lots of it is high calorie, comfort food that brings up thoughts of family and tradition. Your key here is to be Prepared & Present. What I mean by being prepared is to think in advance what social events you have on your calendar and make up for those indulgences in advance by eating much better the rest of your meals. For example, this week we have a lot of things going on and it’s very atypical but we will be eating out or at parties 4 out of the 7 days this week. I prepare for this by making sure that my lunches and breakfasts this week are light, healthy and prepared at home. This allows me a bit of extra wiggle room to try some things at dinners, or enjoy a glass of wine and not feel like I’ve overeaten for the day. The second key is to be Present. What I mean by this is to NEVER mindlessly ‘graze’ at a party. Make a real conscious effort to focus on the foods you LOVE and go ahead and have a couple bites of those. If you don’t LOVE it then don’t waste your calories on it! For me, things like veggie dip or a fried egg roll or cheeses are things I can easily pass up so I can save calories for a few bites of things I truly want to try. This is usually an option on the dessert table. Going into a party and knowing that you are showing up and being present and aware of how much you are eating and what foods you are choosing will make you feel IN CONTROL of your choices and the conscious choice to not gain weight during the holidays. Now to the NUTRITION part. It’s no secret that not all food is created equal which is why it’s important to take a closer look into what foods you are choosing. I don’t expect that when you are dining out or attending holiday parties that the food at those events are going to be the most nutritious. Aim to get in as many vegetables and good quality proteins and fats while you are in charge of what you eat. When you load your plates with fried, high fat sugary foods you won’t feel good, sleep good or look good! If you love those foods, a couple bites go a long way and then stop- telling yourself to search for nutrition in what your eating so your body can feel nourished and boost your immunity.
A couple really easy things you can implement immediately at your next event:
- If you are going to have a drink stay away from high calorie mixed drinks and go for either a glass of wine or a vodka with soda water and lime.
- Fill your plate with raw veggies to snack on instead of chips/crackers/ breads
- Chew gum when going into the party so you don’t feel the need to graze until dinner time
- Don’t arrive to the party starving. Have a light snack before you go- only like 150 calories to help hold you over
- Take a small plate and look at everything offered before making any decisions on what to get. Rank in your head which things are “worth it” and what things you could easily pass up.
- Savor each bite! (meaning- don’t miss how the food really tastes b/c you are talking or thinking of something else- be aware)
Now that you have the tools- Here’s to a physically strong , mentally prepared and HEALTHY holiday season!