Bring On the Holidays!
We’re only a few weeks away from the Season of Eating and I’m beginning to hear the rumblings of those who already expect it to be a period of defeat! As if our only option has been and always will be to succumb to the obligatory pressures of holiday parties and an overabundance of rich and decadent foods and libations which only result in one thing in regards to our healthy habits—FAILURE. To translate this mentality, we work hard all year only to undo every bit of it for about 2-3 months and then start over again in the New Year. I’m here to challenge all of us to turn this entire frame of mind around starting right now. We have the opportunity to not only accomplish more than we ever have during this period of JOY but more importantly to set the stage for better habits in the future and even all year-long.
Now, before you stop reading don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not against the celebrations that accompany this beautiful time of year which we all know is really about Love, Generosity, Gratitude, Peace and Hope. In fact, I encourage you to celebrate as much and as often as you can! I’m simply not an advocate for deprivation and especially not so during the holidays when participation of (some) events is part of the joy that we share with one another. My challenge for all of us (myself included!) is to incorporate the tips below to add to the festivities we choose to participate in from now and throughout the New Year celebrations. This is such a special time for all of us for our own reasons, values and beliefs and I encourage, support and celebrate them all with you. Let’s enjoy these next several weeks together and really get into the spirit of love and living well, for ourselves and each other.
Tip#1: Avoid the NYR cycle and start a new fitness regimen now! Don’t make the mistake of waiting for the New Year to set goals or begin a new activity, join a new gym, studio etc., etc. Here’s what happens when you do: If this is suddenly (or is typically) your New Year’s Resolution, you’re probably motivated by the guilt of whatever you did to yourself over the previous two months and are probably even carrying excess weight that you didn’t have on you before the holidays started. These two factors already set yourself up for a more difficult time to make any progress and it will take you much longer to see any results. Also, the NYR craze is the reason that the busiest time of year for any gym or studio is the first three months. As a result, while you’re “trying” to develop new exercise habits for yourself, so is everyone else and now you also have to work around a crowded class or facility while probably feeling self-conscious about anyone noticing you. Soon after you start your new routine, you begin to make one excuse after another to avoid the large groups of people and because you aren’t making the kind of progress you initially hoped for your resolution is suddenly in the past until it comes around again next January. Am I right???
End the cycle now and commit to trying something new before the holidays instead of after. First of all, you know full well to expect plenty of festivities so what better way to balance it out than to start an exercise regimen that helps to expend the additional intake? Secondly, this is your BEST opportunity to develop new habits rather than trying to do so in the New Year when you’re typically trying to get back into your old routine. We know these next several weeks will only uproot our usual weekly and weekend schedules. Developing a new habit of physical activity now will not only help you manage the stress of the holidays, it will also be an easier adjustment because nothing will be a set routine for the next two months! What better way to get your body used to something NEW that will help you feel better and help you manage all those extra calories we ALL want to enjoy???
Below are some of the best local spots in town to check out now or research new classes in your own area. My challenge to you is to join me in trying at least one new fitness class at as many locations as possible before the end of this month AND (especially if you don’t go with a friend) commit to introducing yourself to as many people as you can including the instructor. Ask questions and listen to testimonials. Find out who loves it there and why! I would be surprised if you didn’t get hooked on something new and it’s always so much easier and much more fun to get moving in a group where friendships develop which can be a great source of encouragement and accountability.
Tip#2: Turn every errand and casual get together into an opportunity to move! Shopping for party supplies, heading to the grocery store, shopping for gifts at the mall or even meeting a friend for lunch—put on your walking shoes and wear clothes you can move in to find simple ways to burn a few extra calories. I personally love to dress up and look cute whenever I can but it’s the holidays! We have PLENTY of opportunities to dress up even if it means calling a friend to meet for dinner at a fancy new restaurant later in the evening. I challenge you to make activities during the day part of your fat-burning schedule, whether you get an actual workout in or not! It never hurts our bodies to move, that’s what they’re meant to do, so bring a friend to stay motivated and park in a safe place but as far away as you can, opt for stairs whenever possible and consider walking the perimeter of the entire shopping center, mall or store at a brisk pace before you begin to stop and actually shop—consider it window-shopping the sales before you commit to the buy and have fun getting that heart rate up!
Tip#3: Indulge mindfully. Don’t over think things this year. Learn to follow your instincts and if something beautiful and decadent calls you to try it, do so! But I challenge you to keep the following in mind when you do. You’ll never have to deprive yourself of anything and you’ll keep that extra fat and those empty calories in check.
1. Only indulge in late-night eating and special holiday treats during social gatherings, parties and festivities. The pressure is too great when you’re hosting get-togethers or out with friends and family. Allow yourself that time to join in but when you’re at home on a regular night, commit to avoid those extra goodies and stop eating anything by 7pm. This is something I’ve started doing recently and I’ve already noticed a difference in how I feel in the morning and overall. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to indulge these next two months and many of them will last well into the night. Save those extra calories for when you have a good excuse to really enjoy them!
2. When you do choose to indulge, commit to eating no more than half a serving and then put it down. Again, you’re going to have PLENTY of opportunities to treat yourself. Think of how many options you’re going to be presented with at every gathering! I don’t plan on saying “no” to anything that I’m really interested in trying myself, so let’s commit to keeping the quantity of our excess in check. I challenge you to plan ahead and see if anyone is willing to split something with you or simply take half portions of everything. Additionally, always wait at least 30-45 minutes after your last bite before going back for seconds of anything except for water. Again, you’re not denying yourself anything so you shouldn’t feel deprived. In fact, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying your night because you shouldn’t feel overly full which is absolutely unnecessary and quite unpleasant.
3. Get an extra workout in the day after a night out. This tip speaks for itself. Don’t let the previous day’s extra calories just sit there. I challenge you to commit to taking a class, workout using a video or at the very least go for a walk in your neighborhood. You’ll certainly feel better physically and I guarantee you’ll feel better about yourself overall.
I’m so excited about this holiday season because of my new journey to help others incorporate the joys of healthy living. The opportunities we have to celebrate are endless if we choose to embrace them and that’s what I hope to inspire. If there’s anything the holidays can encourage us to do, it’s to learn to live with gratitude and I’m here to continue to motivate us all along the way. I hope you’ll join me.