i'm not sure how it's possible, but November is upon us, and the holidays are HERE. i think it's so unfathomable to me right now because living here, Down Under, we are not succumbing to chilly temperatures, falling leaves, and hot chocolate. here in Oz, summer is upon us! the days are heating up and bikinis are starting to show up at the beach on the river... so it seems odd that Christmas decorations are also going up.
but nonetheless, they are here! and for some reason, the holidays seem to be a source of stress and unhealthy behaviors for so many people. it's like all the cold weather, family and friends gatherings, parties, shopping, food events, and in-general busy schedules turn normal, healthy people in zombies that over-eat, over-stress, and under-relax. but it doesn't have to be like this!
(Home for the Holidays...one of my favorite holiday movies!)
the holidays used to be a stressful, negative time for me too. in college and then in the years after while working... it always felt overwhelming. so much to do, so little time, and i just felt miserable and unhealthy. my fast and quick meals weren't translating to healthy meals, my workouts took a back seat to everything else....i let the holi-daze take control of me.
and then one year i woke up. and i decided to take control of the holidays. i realized it's all a matter of planning and scheduling. it seems like the holidays go by so fast and there just isn't enough time, but let's be honest you guys, from Thanksgiving to New Year..you have 37 days to get shit done (as Rique would say!). plenty of time to accomplish all of your goals, like working out enough and planning healthy meals and NOT over-eating on Thanksgiving, and accomplish holiday related activities too, like finishing your shopping, attending holiday parties, and family gatherings.
so here are my top 5 tips to make for a happy and healthy holi-daze....and so you look and feel like a bad bitch all season long.
1. SCHEDULE your workouts and make it the only goal of your entire day
this sounds nuts but i am dead serious: schedule 3-4 workouts for yourself per week, on your calendar, and make them your ONLY goal for the day. like.... Sunday: Bikram yoga. Wednesday: run 4 miles. Saturday: weight lift (do those squats!). and until you complete your workout, everything else takes a backseat. make your health your priority, we only get this one body! taking care of your body is the best thing you can do....plus it's a great stress-buster! it's an hour to yourself, for yourself. enjoy every second of it.
BONUS: you can squeeze mini-workouts in while you're watching TV! don't feel guilty about enjoying your favorite shows on the couch...BUT THEN...during commercials...jump up and get some squats in! when i watch tv...during every commercial segment, i get up and do 2 sets of 15 squats and 1 set of forward lunges (10 on each side). most shows have 4 sets of commercials... so that's 120 squats and 40 lunges. boom. done.
2. PLAN ahead for healthy meals
if you fail to plan, you plan to fail....and that rings the MOST true with healthy eating. if you don't plan your healthy meals out in advance, the chances that you'll end up at Wendy's when you are running short on time are pretty high. it doesn't have to be difficult or complex and it doesn't have to be expensive. what i do is...COOK! that way, i can control the ingredients (gluten free and low sugar!), and honestly, it's FUN! i go to the grocery store once a week, buy EVERYTHING i need all at once...and voila.
i make HUGE enormous meals and then put 3/4 of what i make into the fridge. then, when i'm busy later in the week, or when i need to grab something to bring for lunch, i have healthy, homemade food ready to go. my favorites are turkey pumpkin chili, stuffed peppers, gluten-free pasta with minced turkey, and lentil (dahl) curry with brown rice. (recipes coming shortly!!!!!)
3. Have fun at social events but be STRATEGIC
holiday parties are great! i love the glamour of it all; you get to wear sequins and glitter and sparkles and just be festive and merry, right? but there's always like that moment where you're like....oooh Christmas cookies! Wine! Cheesecake! and then you eat those things and all the sugars, fats and icky ingredients just make you feel AWFUL and sluggish. but a holiday party doesn't have to derail you from being healthy. just choose carefully! have the cookie if you want but limit yourself to one sweet treat. enjoy champagne as your beverage of choice - it's the healthiest choice as far as calories/sugars go. and hey - dance. burn some cals when you're at it! and hoard the veggie tray. LOAD your plate up with veggies and fill up on the good stuff. steer clear of the craft beers (loaded with sugar) and avoid the cocktails at all costs!
4. Make time for PERSONAL interests
schedule time in for yourself. i spend 20-30 minutes every single night doing the New York Times crossword puzzle of the day on my iPad. it's something i love, it makes me feel accomplished, and it's a way to disconnect from everyone and their social media.....and just be with myself. plan to spend 30 minutes before bed doing something personal; read a book, write in your journal, do a little stretching, listen to the new Adele record, meditate or take a hot bath. don't let that half hour slip away from you, make it a priority. it really helps lower anxiety from the day, and you'll most likely sleep better.
5. Don't use the Holi-daze as an excuse
Thanksgiving is not an excuse to binge eat until you cannot move. Black Friday is not an excuse to act like a heathen or hurt someone because you want a cheap television. Christmas is not an excuse to eat 24 cookies in one day. you what is better than Thanksgiving meals? Thanksgiving leftovers! eat a normal sized meal at Thanksgiving....enjoy your favorites, like stuffing, but at a reasonable portion size. and don't skip the veggies on your plate.... eat the broccoli and the beets. save some stuffing in the fridge and have it a few days later for a seriously awesome turkey sandwich. be kind to people on Black Friday and forgive them if they aren't kind to you. and enjoy Christmas cookies but again...reasonable portion sizes (like 2 small cookies is just right!)! be grateful for your good health and work hard to maintain it. enjoy the time with your family and friends, and try to see the shopping to-do list as a fun event where you get to pick out something special to light up the eyes of your loved ones.
so see what i mean? you CAN manage your holiday stress and it just takes a few little adjustments. don't let it manage you.
you know what is great about maintaining your health and sanity during the holidays? when New Year comes.... you don't have to spend much time getting back on track for a healthy new year. you're already there. and then you can just get better and feel even more amazing.