I grew up as a child mindful at Christmas. As the new "buzz-word" for healthy living, allow me to define what it meant for me as a child to be mindful.
I would embrace the anticipation by watching those once a year children's specials like Rudolph and Frosty on TV. I would wake up with glee to open my advent calendar and spy images of candy canes, wrapped gifts, and sacred Christmas Eve starlight. Counting down each day with cookie baking, ornament glitter and glue, and closing my eyes as I drifted off to sleep with images of colored tree lights and neighborhood decorations gave me peace and joy. Let me not forget the excitement of reacquainting myself with the aged and beloved red and green decorations from the garage. Pure bliss.
Reconnect with your childhood...
No matter how old we are however, Christmas can live forever in us all.
So as we enter the season of shopping to find the coveted gift of the year, take time to rekindle your own magic. Take a step back and enjoy being a part of this wonderful season. Play Christmas songs each morning, kiss your loved ones under the mistletoe, roll around in the snow (or blankets on the bed), give something you've always wanted to give to someone else (the neighbor who needs help putting up her Christmas lights, or the same old man on the corner who could use a cup of coffee and a new hat and coat), and snuggle up with cocoa covered in gooey marshmallows by the fire while relishing in the mindful and heart-warming feeling of giving. There is no greater reward that matches my childlike charms as an adult than that of giving to another. Christmas should be a month's worth of bringing the mind to a place of home where all the year's stresses, ups and downs, fears and/or uncertainties take a back seat.
Now, take that oh so overdue deep breath and rekindle your childhood memories. Feel them, embrace them, relive them. It's time to be mindful.
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
10 Tips for a Healthier, Happier Holiday Season
Ho ! Ho! Ho! or Bah Humbug? We all feel the highs and lows of the holidays. Pep and I both LOVE to eat and drink and take in all of the sensory sights, sounds, and flavors of winter. Who doesn't feel cozy and warm without a cup cocoa and a cookie? Yet, we could all use some tips to remind us to enjoy the season while being mindful. Here are my 10 effective (and easy!) ways to enjoy it all in moderation-so you don't have to sacrifice your favorite treats and traditions!
1. DRINK WATER-
Water keeps you hydrated and healthy, while also keeping your stomach fuller—so there’s less room for treats. I recommend you start your day off by drinking 16 oz. of water, even before you reach for the coffee or tea, and aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces each day. (So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll want to drink at least 75 oz. of water.) Before you eat a holiday meal, try to consume another 16 oz. so your stomach is nice and full before you dig in!
2. PLAN AHEAD-
Before you attend a party or event, determine your plan of attack. For me, it’s eating a meal with power foods like veggies and lean protein before the party. Even a few raw nuts in the car will help! If you’re already full when you arrive, you’ll be less likely to load up on tempting treats.
3. PORTION CONTROL-
It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll be able to avoid every single serving of mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and holiday cookies. You can enjoy your favorite things, but portion control is the name of the game. Do your best to hold yourself accountable and stick to just one regular-sized portion. When you do have to eat at an event, plan to fill your plate with colorful produce and salads, then add treats and indulgences in smaller portions.
4. SKIP THE EXTRAS-
This is a tough one, but trust me when I say that if you cut back on (or even skip altogether!) the extra stuff like cheese, gravy, sauces, butter, and whipped cream, you’ll save hundreds of calories. The food will still taste great and you’ll feel much better.
5. CHEW SLOWLY-
Okay, I know this one sounds a little funny, but it really works—and there’s science behind it! When you eat too quickly, your brain doesn’t have enough time to realize you’re full. Basically, you don’t give your brain a chance to tell you, “Stop eating!” By taking the time to eat slowly, and savoring your food in small bites, you’ll eat far less.
The holidays are notoriously a time of year when many relax on their exercise routines. But exercise is a great way to burn off those extra calories and reduce stress during the most wonderful time of the year. Try to get moving for at least 30 minutes every day and make sure you’re doing activities you enjoy!
7. DRINK IN MODERATION-
Sweet alcoholic drinks can have a lot of hidden calories, as can heavier drinks like beer. Stick to lower calorie drinks like vodka and sparkling water, with some lemon or lime for flavor. You can also follow the one to one rule—for every alcoholic drink you have, follow it with a glass of water. And during the last hour or so of the party, switch to water completely. Your head will thank you in the morning!
8. BE SMART WITH LEFTOVERS-
We all know everyone brings too much food to a party. If you keep the unhealthy food around or take it home, you’re more likely to eat it! If you’re hosting a party, the best way to combat this is to send everyone home with a “doggy bag” of food so you can clear it out. If a host asks you to take something home, either decline politely or take the leftovers to the office the next day.
9. DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP-
If you do overindulge, forgive yourself and step right back into your healthy habits the next day. Continuing to feel guilty won’t help your mental or physical health, and could actually make you more likely to fall off the wagon completely (or just make you a Grinch!).
10.HAVE TREATS IN SMALL PORTIONS-
The holidays are a time for celebration and I don’t believe in completely depriving yourself. So go ahead and have small portions of your favorite treats (just maybe don’t go back for seconds!) and ENJOY!