Health — THROUGH — the Holidays

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What do those numbers mean?

Is it a complicated locker combination? Football team starting lineup?

Nope. It’s the # of days from TODAY until Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. And why is that important? Because having so many food related holidays so close together can be detrimental to your waistline and general wellness.

Halloween starts with candy corn and those darned mellowcreme pumpkins…and then the left over candy at the office and late night raids of the bags the kids ‘planned’ to donate to the dentist / troops / church.  A few pumpkin spice lattes over the next couple of weeks and it’s Thanksgiving. Ahh, the day we give thanks for our family and friends with a lot of sitting watching football and enjoying what studies have shown is the LARGEST single sitting calorie consumption in year – unless you’re a competitor in that Coney Island Hot Dog eating contest. The month of December we ‘fa-la-la’  from one festive gathering to another bringing carols…and cookies…and a cocktail or two. And before you know it, New Years Eve is here and you’ve moved to the “comfort fit” waist band and leaving shirts un-tucked.

Many cultures celebrate with food – I don’t plan to address that with one blog post – but a handful of guidelines can get you to 2019 feeling good, like yourself and not the Jolly Old Elf.

#1 MOVE

Normally, I agree with the 80/20 ratio of the importance of eating over exercise when it comes to weight loss or maintenance. But this time of year MOVEMENT moves to #1 because of the multitude of benefits of exercise. Besides helping to maintain weight due to the metabolic effects, it also reduces stress, encourages the maintenance of healthy habits, can be a way for family and friends to bond over a game of ball and PHYSICALLY gets you away from the food.

#2 EAT SMART

Planning is imperative. Look at your week ahead. Bring a healthy dish to a party – it saves the host some work while ensuring you have a clean option. When choosing where to begin, hit the veggie tray before the meat and cheese, a handful of grapes and cocktail shrimp over the creamy crab and artichoke dip. If you can’t stick to just one small portion of decadent dishes like cornbread stuffing or pecan pie – avoid it all together.

#3 DRINK SMARTER

Hydration is tricky in the winter months. The air is drier and who wants a tall glass of cold water when it’s cold and wet outside? But, dehydration makes us confuse thirst for hunger…and then we’re eating AGAIN when we really just needed to drink water. Hydration is also key to a healthy immune system and digestion.

Now the ‘drinking’ you really want to know about. Alcohol not only packs a caloric punch but lowers inhibitions so we eat things we wouldn’t otherwise and alcohol leads to inflammation and belly bloat. Hello comfort-waist pants! But you CAN imbibe wisely.  Plan it out and schedule dry-days during the week or between parties. Avoid sweet drinks like eggnog or spiked cider and go for light beer, dry wine, clean mixed drinks such as vodka/ soda water / lime. You can add a splash of cranberry juice for color! Alternate alcoholic drinks with water to stay hydrated.

#4 SLEEP

We know lack of sleep can turn you into the Grinch. But it also contributes to weight gain and weakened immune system. Getting enough sleep keeps your hunger hormones balanced and gives you energy to exercise and clearer thinking. Hit the hay instead of staying up to binge watch Hallmark movies with the apple pie.

#5 REDUCE STRESS

It’s the most STRESSFUL time, of the year! Well it definitely can be but you can reduce the stress with exercise and sleep, as listed above. One of my favorite: Just. Say. No. You can’t be everywhere all the time. It’s ok, and expected for you to have to say NO to some events and obligations. Ask for help and delegate where you can but be ok with saying No.

When feeling the effects, care for yourself. Take a bath, get a massage, go for a walk or get coffee with someone you WANT to talk to. See a funny movie – laughter can be the best medicine. Christmas vacation is a personal favorite.

 

Enjoy the next 70 days of this festive holiday season. Focus on the friends and family not the food.

Want more information on exercise through the season, how/when/what to eat, healthy festive food and cocktail recipes, how to keep your kids hydrated and manage their sleep and stress?  Even healthy gift ideas – you know how to find me!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram as I’ll be sharing nuggets of wisdom as we go! 

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