Holiday “Jitters”

As the holidays approach, even the most health conscious and well “balanced” people become a bit anxious about staying on track “food-wise” and maintaining their healthy routine. Most of us are pretty committed to making wise choices when we are home. Then Thanksgiving arrives, with the holidays on its heels–which often brings additional family members and guests– and it is not always easy to stay on track. People often come to see me this time of year asking for a “plan” or a “diet” they can follow for the next 6 weeks till the new year begins, and normalcy returns. I advice people not to get too worried and allow themselves a little leeway this time of year.  I also remind my clients that there are 3,500 calories in a pound, so they would have to eat an additional  18,000 calories in the next month to gain the dreaded 5 pounds they are annually anxious about. Here are some simple suggestions you can feel good about:

  1. Make accommodations–and start now! You will probably not be able to run 5 mornings a week with young kids home from school, relatives visiting from out of town, shopping, and volunteer activities, so commit to running 3 mornings. Put it on the calendar so it happens–lie to people if you have to! Tell them you are getting your teeth cleaned and wore your running tights because they are comfortable!  That’s how important it is. Here is another idea, if you will be going out 3 or more nights a week, stop having dessert or alcohol on the nights you are home. I am not opposed to a glass of red wine with dinner, or a couple squares of dark chocolate and herbal tea in the evening, but if you are going out the next two nights, pass on the cocktails and sugar. And commit to cooking on the nights you are home. If you and your significant other are going out on Friday and Saturday night, you may NOT order pizza for the gang on Sunday for dinner. Make a simple, healthy pot of turkey chili (I have a great recipe!) and pick up chips and guacamole for the kids. Your schedule can be “relaxed” this time of year, but it still is a schedule…
  2. Get involved at “non food” events–Don’t sign up to work at the bake table for your school’s holiday fair. Who can look at plates of Bundt cakes and Christmas cookies all day, and NOT crave sugar? Sell raffle tickets or volunteer in the craft corner making ornaments with the children. Don’t sign up to be the Class Parent for your son’s holiday party, as a way to spend time together. Work together to collect and sort coats for a coat drive after school, and treat him to a hot cocoa afterwards. Let another mom or dad resist the homemade chocolate cupcakes at 2:00pm when you had an early lunch…
  3. You don’t have to say “Yes” to every invitation–you will not be seen as a bad mother, wife or friend if you pick and choose your events this season. Go to the school holiday concert–arrive right at curtain time if the cider and donuts are too hard to resist–and enjoy the show.  But send your husband and the kids to your neighbors’ open house on Sunday afternoon, while you go to the gym and get a manicure. And think how much better you will feel when the alarm goes off on Monday morning and you feel rested and refreshed from the weekend.

The holidays can, and should, be fun, but they won’t be if you feel your otherwise healthy lifestyle will be derailed for weeks on end.  I use all of the tips I have given you, and can attest to their success. Maybe you can start a new healthy family tradition this year?  My husband’s family (all 25 of us!) take an hour long walk along the shore in Connecticut before Christmas dinner. We arrive in sneakers and down coats, and stash our party shoes in the trunk. Everyone looks forward to it, and no one is late to miss the rides to the beach–no television, no phones, and an hour of fresh air and exercise where everyone can reconnect. Happy holidays!

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