It may very well be the most wonderful time of the year.
You get a break from work.
The days are filled with visiting and game playing, tobogganing and cross-country skiing.
The kids are happy, and for the most part, we feel abundance and gratitude.
It can also be a struggle.
Many of us get carried away during the holiday season. We drink a bit too much, stay up too late, overeat, and generally fall away from our regular routine of good health practices. It’s easy enough to do and truthfully, it’s nice to step back from the structure and rigidity of the daily grind. The problem is that later down the road, it’s difficult to come back from and can invoke feelings of guilt and failure and start us off into the New Year feeling frumpy and tired.
It’s good to relax over the holiday season; it’s good for the body and mind to slide into the parasympathetic nervous system and peel away some layers of life stress. However, there is a call for balance here. The holiday season does not have to be this great excuse to let your hard-earned health practices completely tumble away to lie dormant under a pile of tinsel, Christmas pudding, and empty boxes of Turtles. Yes, You! Come on now.
I strongly believe that setting an intention is a great way to better your success at meeting goals, whether they be health oriented or not. Once we create a clear vision on how we would like things to go, it is much easier to set our bodies in motion towards the follow through.
Think about it this way: Let’s say you have a tendency to overeat during Christmas dinner (you’re all nodding, I know). You could set an intention to have 2 drinks all night (one before dinner, one during), one tea saucer sized plate of appetizers (4 pieces), skip the potatoes & gravy, stick to turkey & green veggies, and have one small slice of dessert. Maybe you write it down or mention it to your partner.
That is your intention.
You are more likely to follow through once it’s been set in place.
You could set no intention for Christmas dinner at all. There you are, chatting away, refilling your drink mindlessly, disconnecting from how much you are actually eating and drinking, and winding up with a busted top button on your jeans, a headache, and some big bad tummy trouble.
Never mind a little bit of regret.
Stepping Away From Your Usual Holiday Pitfalls
- Try Vegan: Whether you host a lot over the holidays (like us) or not, try to sneak in some vegan mains or side dishes that may very well surprise the pants off of your guests or family members. Vegan food tends to be lower in poor quality fats, higher in nutrient density, and will often leave you feeling satiated without feelings of heaviness. Here’s one of my favourites
- The Walk & Talk: We spend a lot of time visiting with friends and family over the holiday season. Plan to visit during a long walk or hike, a snowshoe or cross-country ski. You may find it very therapeutic to walk and talk, it’s meditative and the fresh air doses the mind and body with oxygen and endorphins.
- Pass on Dessert or Have Dessert at Tea Time: If you find yourself surrounded by the yummiest of chocolates, pumpkin pies and a bounty of toffee or other sugary delectables that you just can’t pass up, try having them at tea time. Our metabolism is at its peak during the hours of 10am and 2pm (with the height of the sun), so eating your sugary treats at this time in the day can dictate whether the body is able to metabolize the sugars quickly or slowly (after dinner), increasing the chances of it being stored as fat.
- Ask for a New Health Book for Christmas: Looking for motivation? Here are a few great books to put on your wish list this year: “In Defense of Food”, by Michael Pollan, “Wheat Belly”, by Dr. Williams Davis, “Healthy at 100”, by John Robbins, & “Undiet”, by Meghan Telpner
- Ask a Friend to Join You in Your Intention: Maybe your husband is eager to join along or you have a gung-ho girlfriend who’s always game for a health kick, ask someone to join you. You may find that having a teammate will make sticking to your intention much easier.
- Hit the Gym or A Sweaty Yoga Class: Feeling sugar/toxin overload? Get your sweat on! Again, ask a friend to join you, or just make your own schedule. Engage your cardio to a point that brings on a good sweat and keep in there for at least 20 minutes (40-60 is better, but you know your level). You will notice you feel better immediately! I always do.
- Plan for a Clean January: Don’t misunderstand, I don’t mean “just wait until January to clean yourself up”! Inevitably, the Holiday season allows for some relaxation around rules and clean eating. Plan to either start a cleanse in January, attend a health workshop (I know of a few, wink wink), or go for a month of sobriety. Set your intention for how to set up a clean-mean & green January, armed with some new reads, a teammate in check, and perhaps a few new vegan recipes!