So did the conversations I had this week about cookie exchanges.
As I was compiling all the material for my book, I saw several themes over the four years of newsletters. One big theme was holidays. In the past, I really focused on why it is so important not to gain weight over the holidays and how to do that, especially if you are stuck in the repeating pattern. So if you need help with that, there are four Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases and New Years in the book to inspire you to make extraordinary choices. Get inspired now before they are upon us.
But today I want to focus on being healthy for the holidays: body, mind and soul.
Many holidays traditions are not healthy for the body. I don't really know why that is. It seems like we only know how to celebrate with high calorie food and lots of it. I have really tried to switch my focus to spending time with the people, not the food. But I understand that all the food is usually still there and since I'm a compulsive eater, if food is in front of me, it's probably going down.
I had a conversation with a client this week about cookie exchanges. I've never done one, but I understand it involves baking dozens of cookies, taking them to someone's house, drinking, talking and laughing, then taking home dozens of different cookies.
Is it completely and totally mad to just get together at someone's house, drink (if you want to), talk and laugh? What's up with the cookies? Almost every woman in your cookie exchange is struggling with her weight or her body image. No one wants that kind of temptation sitting around their house. Do they? Perhaps lots of women in cookie exchanges are hoping for someone to speak up and say I can't do all the cookies anymore. I have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, an autoimmune disorder. I've been on track all year but I know I can blow it in these six weeks if I stock my kitchen with cookies. Let's do a healthy recipe exchange instead this year. Or play cards. Or just get together and celebrate our friendships and families, without the overindulgence of all the sugar, which is so hard on our bodies.
Holidays are not only rough on the body, they are stressful. We all know the reasons for that: unrealistic expectations, trying to do too much, all kinds of relationship triggers, missing loved ones, financial strain, etc. But they are even more stressful because many of us let our fitness routines go. We get overburdened and the thing that gets knocked off the list is the one thing that will keep us mentally healthy: moving our bodies.
Listen. Do your cardio, no matter what, if you want to keep your stress in check and stay mentally healthy over the winter. Don't make excuses, don't let it be the thing to slide. Make the time and do it. That may mean joining the community center, Planet Fitness or Fitness 19 for four months so you have somewhere to go do cardio. It's a few bucks a month. Get in there and knock out those miles. If you have a gym membership or equipment at home, or you don't mind walking in the colder weather (like me!), then write down your goals and get accountable so you do it. Do it, do it, do it.
Do holidays differently. There is a wonderful tradition that's been around for a few years now: the Thanksgiving morning 4 or 5 mile event. What a cool new way to start the day. I have done the Turkey Trot every year since I started losing weight, and it is such a game changer. Knowing I will get my 5 miles in, then being in that healthy frame of mind when I sit down to eat (and eat) feels so much better than the old way. See if your family or a friend is up for walking with you that morning. The turkey will be fine in the oven for that hour.
Now relax. I mean completely. Take 5 minutes a day and lay there and do nothing. Do a breathing meditation, take Margie's yoga, de-stress. There are all kinds of new studies coming out that show we do not come out of our stressed-out state naturally. We need to send the message that all is well and there is no woolly mammoth chasing us. Our blood vessels and stress hormones can go back to normal. Without that time and that signal, we stay in fight or flight and the brain chemistry in that mode is not peaceful or healthy.
Then stay true to your path. You've worked so hard all year to understand the truth and know who you are. Don't let people pleasing, or fear of disapproval dictate what you decide to do or not do over the holidays. You decide. The authentic, courageous You that wants to be healthy and fit and live a long, joyful life with your family and friends. Be brave. We can do this together. We can create new traditions that support our health and wellness. We can make this time of the year about the people, not the food. We can make extraordinary choices and help those around us do the same.
Now that's something worth celebrating.