By Coleen Andruss, MD
Dial it in…The holidays are here, and no matter what life throws at you, your health still needs to be your priority. The average weight gain over the holiday season is 5–7 pounds. While this may not sound like much, most people don’t lose the added weight, which leads to a small gain every year. Don’t wait! Bring in the new year with a vengeance: Take responsibility for your health now so that you can enjoy the holiday season.
Make lists. Organize your purse by purging it daily. Batch shop by getting out your planner, listing all upcoming events, listing supplies you need, and scheduling one day to get it done. Keep receipts organized by using envelopes. When it comes to decorating, display only the things you love, and donate what you don’t use. Take pictures of your holiday decor so that you know how to decorate next year.
Bake ahead. Simplify holiday cards by sending an email or ecard. Simplify your to-do list and ask yourself, “What will happen if this doesn’t get done?” Clean only what is necessary. Simplify wrapping: Do it as you purchase gifts, and use plain white or brown lunch bags with some buttons and ribbons. Simplify gift giving with clutter-free gifts: digital photo albums, audiobook subscriptions, food items, a spa weekend, a magazine subscription, a gym membership, an amusement park pass, or a gift card. Consider a donation given in someone else’s name, and attach the donation card to a small gift related to the donation.
Take Care of You.
Transform your body by making positive changes that will last a lifetime. Reach a deeper level of commitment than you have in the past. Take the unwanted weight off your body by eating right and starting an exercise program before the holiday season begins. Keep this commitment during the season.
Better nutrition means using whole foods and detoxing in a healthy manner without having to restrict calories. Get away from processed foods. Holidays should be more about celebrating with friends and family and less about the food. “Splurging” on the holiday is not what causes weight gain: It is what occurs on the days surrounding it. Use smaller plates. Find things that are lower in calories. Don’t add extra sugar to foods. Why spoil sweet potatoes by adding sugar glaze? Bring a lower-calorie dish to the party as an alternative. Always ask the question, “Am I really hungry?” Before the party, eat a small meal or large snack so that you are not hungry when you arrive. Don’t feel pressured to eat or drink just because someone offers it to you. Learn to say “No, thank you.”
Challenge yourself. Your body responds to the challenge of exercise—even if you are only exercising for 10 minutes. Do your workouts in the morning before the day gets busy. Track your steps to give you motivation. Get a walking partner, join a 5K, find a local holiday run, or get a personal trainer as an external motivator. Enjoy winter activities that the whole family can enjoy, such as ice skating, sledding, skiing, or tubing. The fresh air is exhilarating. Go out for a walk with the family, or gather your family and friends and start dancing.
Smile, laugh, listen to music, and be optimistic—a cheery attitude lowers stress levels. Spend time outdoors. Cut down your own Christmas tree. Go for a moonlight walk. The stars are powerful, and star gazing is used by psychiatrists as therapeutic. Studies have shown that being outdoors reduces stress, improves mood, boosts happiness, and improves the immune system. Go to the theater, orchestra, or ballet. Hold hands with your partner because affection has been shown in studies to decrease stress hormones, increase calmness. and lower blood pressure. Find some quiet time in the midst of craziness to meditate and self-reflect.
Get Plenty of Sleep/Rest.
Everyone needs at least 5 full sleep cycles to get the full benefits of stage 4 sleep, which is the most nourishing and restful sleep. Plan a vacation to boost mood. Researcher shows that people who work more than 55 hours a week are 33% more likely to suffer a stroke and have a 13% greater risk of heart attack than those who work 40 hours a week or less.
Drink Plenty of Water.
Water is liquid medicine. Water is critical to avoiding headaches, muscle fatigue, and weight gain.
So…dial it in! Holiday healing means understanding the direct link between health and nutrition and stress, sleep, and physical activity. Holiday healing means goodbye stress! WELCOME 2019!