1-Do your version of the Holidays, not your Mom’s or your best friend’s. If people around you go over and above what seems like the realm of sanity, you don’t have to do that. Years ago I quit buying gifts for people if I only see them once a year or don’t know their name. Those relatives who have a different friend, wife, husband or significant other annually got crossed off my list because I never knew who was going to be at the event. “Make your world small.” (David Yochim)
2-It’s one or two days, seriously. It’s not three months. Do whatever preparation you’re going to do whenever you like but when you have prepared, stop! Don’t let those one or two days take over your life and the lives of everyone around you for a quarter of the year. The letdown that comes after prepping for three months is almost unbearable. The extra stress of continually trying to upgrade your holiday can lead to binge eating. Stay in control of this Season. Keep your healthy habits in place. They will be your salvation in the chaos! By sticking to your nutrition and fitness plan, you will have a measure of control in a time that seems to be uncontrollable.
3-Commit to good nutrition. Again, it’s one or two days, why on Earth do people start eating green cookies in October? Please, don’t lie to yourself that it doesn’t matter because it’s “The Holidays”. Empty calories are just as empty during a celebration. Sugar in your body and all that accompanies that sugar, including the extra pounds, will make you feel bad. Just say “NO!” to empty calories. Along with abstaining from the obvious nutrition bombs, make sure to get the good stuff! Load up on lean protein, veggies and complex carbs in moderation. You will be full and satisfied with energy to spare and won’t be as likely to go for the desserts. Here’s a fantastic recipe for Sugar Free Red Velvet Cake. You can have healthier versions of your favorite desserts. Just count your calories!
4-Take the time to work out in whatever way that your doctor advises. The stress of the holidays causes us to secrete more cortisol which is a stimulant that is intended for “fight or flight”. Exercise can help balance this out-of-control response. Exercise resets our minds. You can get grounded and centered even in the most stressful times with a good workout. The hormones secreted during the stress response are good workout fuel!
5-Try to keep regular hours. Sometimes as the big day approaches, we will push harder to do “More!” and lose sleep. This sets us up for disaster. When the day gets here we’re tired and wired. Keep it small and enjoy the festivities more. Read about the importance of the three elements of health here in David’s article, Fitness Triad.
6-Get some morning light. It’s been associated with improving mood and helping set natural circadian rhythms. Your brain and body will feel better on your natural schedule.
7-Avoid stress triggers. We all have limitations on what we tolerate without feeling adverse effects. Sometimes during the Holidays we feel pressured to stretch those limits. It can be financial, social or simply being pressured to be involved. Our time is a precious commodity and holiday celebrations can rob us of valuable workout time without anything positive to show for it. If certain family members or activities make you miserable, don’t be involved with them. Use any time off work to improve your life, not wreck it.
8-Let go of the past. This time of year is such an emotional time for so many people based on their childhood memories. You are not a child anymore. Whether those memories are good ones that you try to unsuccessfully recreate without success every year or terrible, painful memories that make you wince at the very thought of the holidays, just let it go. I wanted to see a White Christmas my entire life because I live in the South where snow is rare. I had waited my entire life for this event and on Christmas Eve, when I was 50 years old, snow was magically floating down, covering the country landscape where I lived. Old barns and country lanes were turning into photo ops galore. It was just perfect, beautiful.
About the time that I was gazing out the window, mesmerized by what seemed like a Christmas miracle, all Hell exploded right behind me. Two family members engaged verbally in a fifteen-minute shouting contest. This was instigated by a 53-year-old adult and directed at a special needs individual who simply didn’t know how to respond. Needless to say, it destroyed everything that I had waited so long to see in a moment. I have removed that individual from my life and the lesson that I learned was invaluable. Don’t give that person that much power over you. It will snow again.
9-Spread the love. So often family members fight to the death about where they will spend the day and what time. Stop it. Spread your festivities out over two days and go one place one day and the other place the second day. Arguing and pouting does not make for a fun party or good times. Be realistic. You can’t be in two places at once. Start now and work this out for less stress as the holidays approach.
10-Wear dress clothes to eat. Yep, dress clothes, not sweatpants that stretch to accommodate the buffet. You will have a natural reminder that you have eaten enough when your waistband gets tight. No unbuttoning allowed. You will eat more and not even realize it if your waistband stretches to accommodate the extra food.
11-Eat well before you go to the event. Have protein and fiber. Be well hydrated. Protein, fiber and fluids will satisfy you and make you feel full for hours so you will be less likely to binge.
12-Submerge yourself into self-care rituals. This is not the time to skimp on personal care. Do your nails, hair and skin care. Gentlemen, this goes for you also. Sleep. Take time to do the things that relax and refresh you whether it’s convenient or not. You will be rewarded when you face the day refreshed and looking good.
With a little planning and determination, you can emerge from the Winter holidays with your sanity and your weight management program intact. Start now and have Happy Holidays!
Spring is waiting on the other side.