December is here and so is the busyness of the holiday season. Many of you are bustling about at the mall, rushing off to Christmas parties and productions, and forgetting to take care of yourself in the process. Before Christmas day arrives, you are frazzled, lethargic and feeling sick.
BUT instead with a few simple “holiday-dos,” you can thrive through the holidays. How? Eat the right foods mindfully, get enough sleep, move your body (every day) and enjoy your family. So, with a few holiday alterations, you can be happy, healthy, and energetic. Who doesn’t want that?
Implement these 5 Holiday-Dos to stay your course to feeling amazing during the holiday chaos and cheer!…The apply these healthy habits year round for consistent health strides well into 2017.
Holiday-do # 1: SKIP THE SUGAR – Limit sugar, dairy and gluten and you’ll experience more energy. Many traditional Christmas goodies have all three in varying amounts. Sugar is known to block your immune system for several hours after ingesting. You know the candy canes, chocolate treats, egg nog and such just aren’t’ doing your health or waistline any good. Make some wise swaps and you’ll be golden. Gluten can be difficult to digest, especially if you are stressed and overeating. Furthermore, gluten has been known to cause inflammation. Generally, you tend to eat more throughout this festive season, which further stresses your digestive system. Instead, choose foods that enhance your immune system and keep those nasty bugs at bay that are so easily passed around at this time of year. Manage your potions. Include healthy proteins — preferably grass-fed or organic. Choose brightly coloured veggies, raw or cooked or both. Add some healthy fat for satiation and satisfaction.
Holiday-do # 2: SWEET DREAMS – With all your bustling, shopping, socializing, and decorating, you may not put sleep very high on your priority list. Sleep should be a priority every night. Quit dreaming of sleep and actually go to bed early enough to get enough sleep to function the next day. Research shows that lack of sleep or interrupted sleep affects hunger hormones, including leptin. When your leptin levels are low your brain doesn’t get the message that you are full and fat burning is next to impossible. Research shows that you need 7 hours of quality sleep to regulate fat loss and hunger hormones. And did you know that a lack of sleep increases your stress level and the stress hormone, cortisol? This combination then triggers food cravings and increases fat storage due to increased insulin response to handle the increased carbohydrates. Net result is increased weight gain during the holidays. Lethargy, weight gain and add cognitive impairment to the mix. Short sleeps are associated with impaired cognitive (brain) function.  I don’t know about you, but I have enough issues to memory recall without adding to the mix.
Holiday-do #3: REDUCE STRESS BY MOVING – Is the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season squeezing out your “exercise”? Truth be told, you probably didn’t have exercise very high on your “to do” list. Instead of dreading exercise, think of ways to move your body. Moving your body is a necessary part of a healthy life. Start scheduling movement into your daily routine. After reading The Power of When, I figured out when the best time to move my body — first thing in the morning before anything can crowd it out. I pull on my exercise gear and move for 20-30 minutes. Since incorporating this new habit, I rarely miss moving or exercising. Here are some ideas to add movement into your day:
- go for a walk in your neighbourhood and enjoy the Christmas lights and displays
- check out the local ice rink and strap on a pair of skates
- try a new activity like cross country skiing or snowshoeing
- take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
- wear a pedometer and aim for 5000 steps, then 6000 steps and build up to 10,000 steps
- swing a hula hoop (that one should bring back fond memories)
- walk your dog or your neighbour’s dog for 30 minutes a day
- put on some tunes and dance
Holiday-do # 4: BE MINDFUL – shut off the TV, turn the phone on silent, shut off the computer. Take a few slow, deep breathes prior to eating. When you unplug from technology before eating you are more conscious of what and how much you consume. Eat with awareness. Enjoy conversation instead of plates of unwanted calories. Scan what’s available and plan accordingly — lean protein, fibre and healthy fats will keep you satiated and happy. Mindfully selecting some holiday favourites keep you in control and not the other way around. Your digestive system will thank you for it; you will enjoy your food more and feel more contented afterward.
Holiday-do 5: CHUCKLE LIKE SANTA — Set aside the chaos, unmet expectations, impatient people and unwanted presents. The Christmas season has become complicated and stressful, but don’t let other people’s Grinch-like attitude influence you. Instead share a smile and a laugh. It’s contagious! Give it a try. Dr Don Colbert, author of Deadly Emotions, emphasizes the benefits to your whole body just by laughing. Laughter is known to lower stress levels by releasing calming hormones. Pop up some popcorn and watch a funny holiday movie like “Elf,” “Home Alone,” or “The Santa Clause.” Tell jokes or do something crazy or out of character — in other words, enjoy your life. Perhaps you can play a family board game that evokes laughter and great moments together. Laughter can reduce stress, improve immunity and increase pain tolerance.
Want to making lasting lifestyle changes in 2017? Email or call Brenda at 403.801.5698 to schedule your FREE Discovery Chat. I enjoy helping people like you to make healthy choices that results in energy to dance and smile every day.