The Holiday Season, which really lasts October through January, is a busy time for everyone. We start at Halloween, watching our kids scour the neighborhood for candy. Then we move onto Thanksgiving when we eat more that we ever should and pass out for a day or two. Once we are turkeyed out, Christmas and Hanukkah arrive with their irresistible sweets and abundant munchies. And to end it all, the final blow-out – New Years Eve and Day with elegant parties, followed by football madness and even more munchies. Between the parties, sweets, alcohol, late nights, hangovers, crowded airports and malls and lack of time for exercising, we place an incredible demand on our bodies. And then with the little energy we have left, we start to diet and vow to lose 5-10-20 LBS.
All this holiday cheers falls during winter – a season of colder weather and shorter days, and a time when human instinct is to slow down and turn inward. The natural rhythm of winter indicates it’s time to slow down, take it easy and relax and use less energy. If we look around us, animals are starting to hibernate; plants and trees are at rest. But, we do the opposite and jam pack our schedules with more things than any other time of the year. Combining our go-go-go mentality with overeating and drinking is a huge burden on your digestive and immune system, as your body cannot keep up with the demands. This leads to exhaustion, depression, seasonal affective disorder and opens the door wide to invaders like the flu and your common cold. Just think – how many times have you gotten sick in January?
But the holiday season does not have to be difficult, in fact – it can even be merry and bright as the songs say. Here are some suggestions to tackle the biggest holiday challenges:
Manage Your Time
According to a recent Family Circle magazine article, 43% of parents with children at home are overwhelmed in Nov and Dec. and 61% of people report feeling anxious often or sometimes between Thanksgiving and New Years. Committing to too many parties, gatherings, and dinners probably drain us more than anything. It is especially important during this busy season to manage your time wisely. After all, winter is the time to relax and rest. So, start by setting boundaries and saying “NO” to the events you don’t want to go. Establish your priorities and kindly decline the rest. It is better to say “NO” from the start than to over-commit and find yourself feeling obligated. In reality, it’s not a huge catastrophe if you miss a party or two. It’s more important to schedule in that down time.
Manage Your Wallet
With the economy in a downward slump, everyone is pressed for cash this year. But that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the holidays. After all, the holiday season is about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for the blessings in your life. People who love you don’t want you to be financially stressed. Maybe you can set a budget this year to determine what you can spend (IN CASH), or decide to do a grab bag with family or friends. That can save you hundreds of dollars.
This is probably the biggest concern of the season. How can we resist those sweet temptations without depriving ourselves and allowing them to expand our waistlines? The holidays are very difficult times to maintain health and not put on weight because let’s face it…all that food…. all those goodies…. all that SUGAR! Overeating has actually become part of the enjoyment of the holidays. People tend to bring out the best foods, homemade desserts and some things you only get once a year, so you think, “I better load up on them now.” Wash those down with a couple candy cane minty mix drinks and not only are you packing in a few hundred extra calories, but you are also spiking your blood sugar and aggravating medical conditions or creating new ones.
Managing Your Weight and Getting Past Sweet Temptations
This is probably the biggest concern during the holiday season. How can we resist those sweet temptations without depriving ourselves and allowing them to expand our waistlines? The holidays are very difficult times to maintain health and not put on weigh because let’s face it…all that food…. all those goodies…. all that SUGAR! Overeating has actually become part of the enjoyment of the holidays. People tend to bring out the best foods, homemade desserts and some things you only get once a year, so you think, “I better load up on them now.” Wash those down with a couple candy cane minty mix drinks and not only are you packing in a few hundred extra calories, but you are also spiking your blood sugar and aggravating medical conditions or creating new ones.
Try some of these suggestions to combat holiday weight and feeling guilty:
1. Eat consciously
2. Cook more
3. Don’t stand by the dessert table when socializing at parties
4. Eat breakfast! Give yourself a good morning start.
5. Take a smaller plate. Studies indicate we use visual cues to determine when we are full rather than checking in with our bodies.
6. Drink lots of water. Water keeps things going in our bodies and well, there is only so much you can put into your body, so by drinking more water, you will eat less overall.
Finally, I must add, be realistic about your health goals during the holidays. Rather than be concerned about losing weight, try weight maintenance. Dieting at this time of year, with all the stress, germs and running around is not a good idea. Instead, focus on healthy, balanced eating, getting support if you need it and enjoying the rest of 2008!
What are some of your Holiday Tips for Survival during this time of year? Please comment here.