Gift Yourself a Healthy Holiday

It’s that time of the year again! In keeping with my current holiday theme, I’d like to address some of the habits that seem to fall by the wayside for many of us each year during this time. For many, it’s the comfort food, sedentary behavior, extended darkness, and cold weather that tend to affect our health goals just as much as parties and social events. My goal, as a health coach, is to make people aware of the habits and hidden traps that can lead people into the land of temptation and help them create tactics and plans to avoid those added pounds and that sense of exhaustion we often feel around this time of year.

Many factors play into us losing sight of our healthy plan during this busy, and usually stressful, time of year. Aside from the parties, dinners, and social events that fill our schedule, we also may find that our time for movement is cut short. Cold weather and long dark nights may keep us indoors, therefore limiting our time spent getting exercise outdoors, and keep us from getting the fresh air and sunshine that keeps our bodies happy and healthy. Daily walks are cancelled due to inclement weather, and most outdoor physical activities like gardening, tennis, and running are impossible in most areas. It’s important to take some time to evaluate how you used the outdoors in your exercise plan and come up with a replacement that can be easily done indoors. Yoga, treadmills, dancing, and streamed workouts are a fantastic way to bring your movement into warmer settings. It is important to continue to get some fresh air each day, and a bit of sunshine to boost our vitamin D and prevent depression and seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, or “winter blues”, leads to symptoms of depression in healthy people due to a reduction of daily sunlight. Symptoms include depression, lack of energy, loss of interest in things that bring us joy, issues with concentration, and sleep disorders. Spending a small amount of time each day in the sunshine can alleviate these issues, even if you spend it sitting inside a window basked in sunshine.

Holiday parties and dinners often include decadent foods, adult beverages, and lots of treats we wouldn’t otherwise have in our health plans. The important thing to remember is to ENJOY without OVER-INDULGING! It’s absolutely fine to enjoy a few “only baked once a year” cookies, just remember-it’s about TASTING them and ENJOYING them! It’s not about eating the entire plate of them!! Enjoy your favorite foods and treats in small amounts and move on to the main focus of the holidays-making memories with family and friends, enjoying those around us, and appreciating the time we have together.

When planning your meals during the busy holiday season, be sure to focus on quality over quantity; Eat foods with BALANCE in mind. Consider eating a small healthy snack before heading to parties or big dinners to calm your hunger. Fill your plate with healthy filling foods to begin your meal, and then have small bites of more decadent fare. If you are asked to bring a dish, consider a dish that is veggie based so that you know for sure that you will be getting those healthy bites in. ALL foods are fine in MODERATION! Take small bites, be mindful in enjoying the taste, and enjoy!

Most families have what I call a “food pusher”. It could be your mom, your aunt, or a friend that simply gets her holiday joy from watching people eat ALL her treats. You know who these people are, and you need to have a plan to deal with them in advance-they generally do NOT take “no” for an answer. There’s lots of ways to say no politely, after trying a small sample, of course, but these people usually don’t settle for a simple “No thank you!” Have a plan of action going into this situation and be strong about it. Some people think they must announce their health goals, diet plans…But that often leads to too much attention and discomfort from the food pusher. Always remember, “NO.” Is a complete sentence, and that food pusher will likely move on to a new hungry victim quickly! 

I’ve put together a pretty little resource for surviving the holidays, and it’s free to you HERE. You’ll find great tips for self-care, healthy holiday travel, getting exercise during busy holiday weeks, optional food choices for meals, and a few tracker templates to print out to help get you organized and motivated. I hope you will grab yourself a copy and make your holiday season a little healthier and happier.

New Years is coming up super soon, and with it comes the blessing and promise of a brand new year! If you’re looking for a great way to start your year off with health goals in mind, consider booking free chat with me to discuss putting together the perfect, personalized plan focused on YOU and YOUR goals. Whether it’s getting your nutrition in order, finding time in your schedule for building healthier habits, dropping a few pounds, or finding ways to relieve stress, focus more on self-care, and gaining the energy you crave in life-I can guide you to your goals and keep you motivated for success. Learn more about health and wellness coaching HERE. Find out more about me and my passion for great health, and feel free to drop me a message here to start a conversation about YOU!

Here Come the Holidays!!

And just like that…What seemed more like an endless 2020 than a new 2021 is suddenly drawing to a close. I personally have no idea where the last 11 months went; They seriously flew right on by in a blur. But now, with Halloween happening this weekend, we are headed into the frenzy of holidays bringing us to the end of another year. With that comes the endless amount of busy schedules, family occasions, parties, and food. It can be a tough time for anyone that tries to eat well, exercise, and stay with a wellness routine.

While many people have been told that the average person gains 5-15 pounds during the holidays, that is simply not statistically true. The average weight gain is 1 pound!! However, studies have also shown that that one pound is often not lost, and over a period of years, adds to unwanted weight. What I find most generally with my friends and clients is the end feeling of overdoing it too often, whether it be with food or alcohol, or the feeling of simply not feeling our best due to too many indulgences during the holiday season. It’s easy to get off schedule with movement, to eat or drink too much, or to allow ourselves to be stressed out for too long. So, I’d like to touch on some important ways to avoid some of the holiday health traps and give some tips on staying on track with your goals this season.

Because it’s Halloween, I’ll start with the obvious first obstacle-candy! If you have children in your life or enjoy treating the neighborhood kids to some trick or treating fun, it’s likely that you will face a large amount of candy at some point this week. It can be HARD having all that candy around and not overindulging. To avoid this, try planning to treat yourself to a small amount of your favorite treats, and find a time to absolutely enjoy them! Eat mindfully, focus on the taste and texture, do nothing else but enjoy. Give into a small amount of deliciousness, enjoy, and move on. If you find that you are simply weak when it comes to sugar (it’s ok, there are many!!) Try to put off buying your Halloween candy until the last minute and give it ALL away-even if this means dumpling all of it into the bags of your last few trick or treaters. Another way to deal successfully with Halloween candy is to only buy candy you do NOT enjoy. Until 2 years ago, my family home was a Halloween destination with a huge, haunted yard. We went very big and had hundreds of people show up. We handed out over 30 pounds of candy in a few hours with none left at the end of the night. My husband, however, would order the candy weeks ahead of time, and I quickly learned to remind him to leave the candy at his office, or hide it in our garage in unopened boxes. It was just too much temptation!

Halloween is just the kickoff to the holiday season, which, honestly, in my family, goes all the way to Super Bowl Sunday. Thanksgiving can present a whole new set of issues for people because it’s literally a holiday focused on eating! One of the biggest concerns I hear from clients is about “food pushers”. It seems that everyone has a friend or family member that takes a “No thank you” to food personally. Generally, this person seems to be a grandma or aunt, and they simply will not accept a “no” to their meatballs/cake/pie/cookies/casserole, nor will they accept that a small taste is “enough”. In my family, it was an aunt that would pout if you wouldn’t take a second or third helping. I can remember leaving Thanksgiving feeling sick because she’d sit next to me as a child and make sure I shoveled every bite in. I like to remind people that “NO” is a complete sentence, and a small taste IS enough to enjoy and give praise to our food pushers. Accept a small amount, enjoy it mindfully, say “no” to seconds, and change the subject or move away from the situation. It’s important to remember that holidays are about family and friends-focus on the social aspect of the holiday, and the food aspect will be much easier to navigate.

Alcohol consumption is another holiday concern for many. These drinks are often full of empty calories, they dehydrate our body, and as we drink, we lose touch with our mindset and goals, and often end up not feeling so great in the days that follow. Alcohol often leads to unplanned eating, tired days, and missed exercise. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that the sugar content of my drinks literally gives me a hangover. I call it the sugar overload hangover. If I do indulge, I find that sticking to vodka with a sugar free mixer saves me from the terrible, exhausting, headachy days that often follow just drinking a glass or two of wine. To avoid feeling crummy after having a few drinks, be sure to cut down on the sugary mixes, drink a glass of water to match each libation, and don’t drink on an empty stomach. If wine is your choice this holiday season, consider mixing it with a sugar free flavored seltzer water for tasty, less alcoholic alternative. Again, focus on the social aspect of your events, and you will find that you not only have more fun, but you will be feeling more like yourself on the days that follow.

The holiday season can be very stressful, so be sure to schedule some time for self-care to avoid burn out and exhaustion. Find some time to sneak in some quiet time to refresh your mind and find ways to stay active as the days get shorter, darker, and colder. Take a long walk and enjoy the decorations in your neighborhood or plan some recreation time with family and friends to get everyone moving. If you find that stress is creeping into your daily life, try a little meditation, or simply sit in silence for a few moments to regain your clarity and energy. Focus on basic clean nutrition to feel your best, and on days in which you plan to indulge in holiday treats, eat small, balanced meals to keep your belly full and your energy level balanced.

As our year comes to a quick, busy end, be sure to take some time to focus on YOU. Give yourself a break, acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished this year, and give yourself some praise. As we look towards 2022, start thinking about how you want to embrace that new beginning. I always like to find a word that I want to focus on as each new year begins to get my mindset in order and truly start the year with a clear sense of where I am, and where I want to be,

Have a great Halloween, go easy on the sugar, and get some self-love into your life! If you’re looking for a great FREEBIE to guide you through the holiday season, be sure to grab my 22 page Healthy Holiday Survival Guide! This beautiful guide is chockfull of tips and hacks to get you through just about any holiday wellness situations and concerns. And, if you DO find yourself indulging in too much sugar this Halloween, be sure to watch my blog, and IG, for my new 10 Day Sugar Detox program.

If you’re looking for personal guidance and accountability to motivate you through this season, consider a free chat with me to discuss your goals and needs, and see how wellness coaching might work for you. Be sure-I’ve got your back this holiday season!