Friday, December 9, 2016

13 tips to stay healthy and stress free this holiday season

I just got done reading my 437th "Healthy Holidays" post and I want to scream! Not only was that a tremendous waste of time but I didn't learn a darn thing. NOT ONE THING! "Why?" you ask innocently, and I'll tell you: because they weren't about "Healthy" at all. They were about skinny! Every single post was about how to avoid eating extra cookies and appetizers. Fitting in gym time around holiday events. Hiding your weight loss shake in a reusable plastic cup so no one will try to give you a calorie laden drink at a party. Excuses to use when treats are brought in to work. Blah blah blah...are you kidding me?

I'm pretty upset about this. It feels to me that the majority of people believe that healthy and skinny are the same thing. Well, they are not! You can be overweight and healthy, but you can also be skinny and unhealthy. These are not exclusive! Furthermore, a cookie at Christmas is not going to kill you.

How to conquer the holidays with less stress

I lost 20 lbs last spring and kept it off so I am no stranger to the little tricks you can use to keep on an eating plan or fit in a gym visit, but it's the holidays here folks! Relax and enjoy yourself. Have a cookie or two. Drink some eggnog or have an appetizer. Toast with some champagne. We all know not to go crazy, but live a little. Come January everyone will be at the gym and it'll be like a big party, so you'll be right back to the grind in no time. Live a little, but do your best to take care of yourself too. Taking care of yourself is not about watching what you eat as much as it is about everything else you do during your day. Here are my 13 favorite stay healthy tips for this holiday season:

1) Hand sanitizer and hand washing. I don't think I can properly stress the amount of germs going around. You're hugging people you only see yearly, shaking hands with everyone and their uncle and just generally being exposed to more people (and their germs) then any other time of year. Wash your hands A LOT, and use hand sanitizer when you can't wash. 

2) Lemon & water. Let me break this one down for you...

Lemon: is excellent at helping to cleanse your liver and keep things running well in that area. Holiday excesses mean your liver is working overtime so help it out! Lemons are also packed with vitamin C that can help you to fight off the common cold and with all the holiday visitors, shopping and parties you'll be exposed to a lot more germs this time of year. Help your body to fight back with vitamin C.

Water:  Don't forget we need 60oz water every single day to keep our bodies properly hydrated so make sure you drink your water! I have a 20oz  filtered water bottle and I make sure I drink 3 refills a day to keep myself on track. Mild dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue and slowed digestion among other issue. Plus dry winter air is hard on your skin, so hydrate from the inside out. 

3) Get some sleep dang it! I know you have to shop and cook and move that darn elf, but get yourself a solid 7-9 hours a night. You need to be consistent too. You can't catch up after the holidays, sleep doesn't work like that. Just get your sleep because your body does a lot of healing while you're snoozing and that's important to staying healthy.

4) Watch what you eat. I'm so not going to tell you how to stick to a weight loss plan right now! It's Christmas, if you want a cookie have a cookie. Not the whole plate, but yeah...eat the cookie. However, when at parties watch what you eat. If a particular dish looks like it's been sitting out all day, just skip it. If something smells funny, looks weird, is starting to separate or should be refrigerated and it's been at room temp way too long, then you need to pass on that. Also it's better to take the cautious approach with food allergies then to end up in the ER. If you can't tell if something has shellfish, nuts or gluten in it and you're allergic, then skip it.


5) Fitness trackers: These are in almost every smartphone now so just about everyone has one. The generally accepted goal is 10,000 steps per day which translates roughly into 5 miles. I'm not telling you to run them or get fanatical about it, but try to get your number around 10,000 by the end of each day. Why? According to The Magic Of 10,000 Steps on the FitBit blog:
10,000 steps a day is a rough equivalent to the Surgeon General’s recommendation to accumulate 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. It should be enough to reduce your risk for disease and help you lead a longer, healthier life. The benefits are many:  lower BMI, reduced waist size, increased energy, and less risk for Type II diabetes and heart disease.  In fact, a recent study of the 10,000 steps a day method reported conclusive health benefits.
It's good for you and you'll feel better if you get a decent amount of activity every day. With all the shopping and socializing the holidays bring you'll probably hit 10,000 anyway. Plus setting a goal and achieving it just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

6) Take some 'me' time. Take a long bath, get your nails done, start that book you've been dying to read, spend time doing nothing but petting the cat or watching some TV. Carve out some time to do whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed and peaceful. Don't feel guilty for taking some time for yourself. You can't get everything done if you're not in top shape and mental rejuvenation is great for the spirit!


Tips for a stress free holiday

7) Don't do anything stupid. Don't drive in sleet or icy conditions when not absolutely necessary. Don't try to hang lights from the gutters without someone to hold the ladder. Don't give crazy cousin Mark a bottle of rum. (ok, maybe that one is only my family!) If it may have a negative outcome press the pause button and rethink the situation. Nobody wants to spend the holidays in a cast!

8) Avoid stress like the plague. Holiday stress is everywhere! Road rage. Shopping rage. Fighting over the last Hatchimal. 'I can't stand my cousin and want to slap her' rage...whatever stresses you out is what you need to avoid! Stress wears down your body and mind and its the last thing you need during the holidays. You already have enough things you have to do, don't overextend yourself when not necessary. Nobody is going to care if you stopped at the bakery for 6 dozen cookies instead of baking them for the grade school fundraiser. It's ok to not go to everything you were invited to. Prioritize and decline when over scheduled. Try to shop when the stores are less busy like weekdays, daytime or late at night. Don't be afraid to say no or walkaway from stress when possible. You'll be happier for it!

9) Take your vitamins. A good multivitamin makes up for the holes in your diet. Make sure you take one daily to keep the ole machine running at peak performance. Don't forget probiotics or herbs like Echinacea if you feel a little something coming on. You might just nip it in the bud!

10) Go easy on the caffeine. I know we all love a good Starbucks especially those yummy holiday flavors, but too much macchiato can leave you feeling miserable. An extra cup should be fine but too much caffeine can increase anxiety, upset your stomach, cause sleeplessness and even give you diarrhea. I don't know about you, but those are all symptoms I'd rather avoid. 

11) Don't forget your medicine. It's easy to forget a dose of your daily prescription drugs when you're busy. Take an extra second before you leave for the day to make sure you've kept to your Rx schedule. Write it down if you need to. 

12) Shop online. Almost everyone is offering free shipping and bonus gifts with purchase right now so take advantage of it! Grab a cup of tea, put your feet up and order from your laptop. It'll save you drive time and shopping stress plus you might find something better then what's in the stores. (or score one of those gift with purchase sets for yourself!)

13) Write everything down. Make lists, lots of them. Use your smartphone to keep track of gift lists, what you need from the store, what you're bringing to the office party, what errands you need to run and anything else that needs done even if you're sure you'll remember. Put all parties, school events etc in your phone calendar. Consult these constantly! Set reminder alarms if you have to. Nothing ruins your happy mood quicker then having to run out last minute for a grab bag gift because you forgot the class party was tomorrow.

Bonus: Don't let social media make you crazy! All those Pinterest worthy photos of adorable kids, Christmas vacations and perfect trees might make you want to scream but don't let it get you down. We all put our best face forward on FB and IG but that's not always reality. Everybody has bad days, but most of us just don't post them online! Take comfort in the fact that those adorable kids probably trashed the playroom 5 minutes later and that tree probably took 8 hours to decorate. See...you're actually ahead of the game!

Have a healthy holiday season!

~L

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