How Not to “Survive” the Holidays

Ready or not, the holidays are here, and whether you haven’t thought too much about it or have everything nailed down, at some point or other most of us feel a little stressed out about getting it all done. All the chaos, shopping, decorating, parties, friends, family, travel and – all that food, it’s a lot.  I’ve seen a bunch of “Stress-Free Holiday Survival” newsletters floating around in email space, and to me, just surviving isn’t what the holiday season is all about.

How do we fit it all in?

The answer:  Don’t.

I’m a big believer that if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing then you shouldn’t do it. And I’m not saying not to pay your bills or do laundry… necessary things still need to happen. But what if you entered the holidays feeling energized and looking forward to all the hub-bub? What if you weren’t concerned about gaining weight or managing your time between sending out holiday cards and trying to attend three holiday parties on one night?

I’d like to suggest one thing: Shift Your Thinking.

You get to decided how you want to spend your time and what you eat. It’s your time and your life, so decide how you want to your time to look, what will make you feel most fulfilled and how important your long term health goals are.

I’m not suggesting that a strict routine be kept or that anyone deprive themselves of a cherished indulgence. The key here is to choose what is really worth indulging in.

Everyone is different, so set some priorities.

Decide what events, traditions, etc. are important and focus on those. Every year right around Thanksgiving we decide what traditions we want to repeat and what new things we want to include, what we want to make time for and who we want to see.   We also talk about what things we want to let go of, like is decorating every square inch of the house necessary or will a few outside lights do the trick?

Just don’t forget to make some time for yourself.  Keep some quiet time to recharge for you. Your enjoyment level will increase significantly.

As for navigating all the goodies that seem to be so plentiful this time of year, a few suggestions:

  • Eat something healthy before going to parties or events and please don’t starve yourself all day thinking that will offset the extra calories you eat when you’re out. Your body doesn’t work that way. Not being overly hungry when you’re at a party will help you from overeating in those settings where it’s usually more challenging to make healthy choices.
  • Keep moving. Being consistent with your exercise routine will help  you de-stress and boost your energy levels.
  • The holidays aren’t the holidays without some super delicious treats. I’m going to presume we all know that scarfing down the whole cheesecake isn’t the best idea. Be mindful of what you choose to enjoy and really take the time to enjoy it. Savor every bite.  Think about what, how much and how often indulging in that special treat is going to make you feel and how it will affect your longer term health goals.

And a few facts, just for good measure:

It takes an extra 500 calories each day, or 3,500 calories a week, to gain a pound. That sounds like a lot, but when you look at the below, it can add up quickly:

  • One cup of eggnog – without added liquor – has about 350 calories and 19 grams of fat.
  • One cup of champagne has about 182 calories.
  • One, four-ounce serving of red wine has about 100 calorie
  • 4 2 1/4″ homemade chocolate chip cookies, 320 calories
  • 3 3″ homemade frosted sugar cookies, 330 calories
  • 1/8 slice of 9″ homemade apple pie, 410 calories
  • 1/8 slice of 9″ homemade pumpkin pie, 315 calories
  • 1/2 cup stuffing, 195 calories
  • 1/2 cup candied sweet potatoes, 240 calories

I hope you find much joy during the holidays this year. Enjoy the moments.


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