Holiday Balance: Small Actions, Big Impacts

Holiday Balance - Small Actions, Big Impacts

Oh the holiday season.  As if our "normal" lives are not busy enough, now we add company parties, family gatherings, present buying/wrapping/returning, travel, and so much more into the mix.  So, how do you do it all?  Stay calm and focused?  Still find time for yourself to exercise or feel even a tiny bit good about NOT falling off the wagon?  Well, it's all about small choices along the way that can help keep you in line...

Example:  It's Saturday morning.  You got up early, went for a long run, fasted all day while running chores and cleaning the house, and now have all night to party!  You arrive at your friend's holiday potluck feeling all sorts of self-righteous, not to mention a little bit shaky.  Your "self control" all day means you can do whatever you what at night, right?  15 minutes in and you are already down a glass of wine, 3 mini-quiches, a handful of mixed nuts, 2 pigs in blankets, and are loading your plate with some sausage cheese balls and refilling your wine glass.

Sound familiar?  And it's just the beginning of the night!  It's easy to imagine how a couple hours and several glasses of wine later, you have now undone all the good of your run and more than tripled your calorie intake  vs expenditure quotient.

Imagine this instead:  You get up and do your long run, have a good post-run snack while you stretch and hydrate.  Then, mid-laundry swapping you have a good lunch...maybe it's a bagel with peanut butter and a bowl of fruit.  Maybe it's left over pasta or pizza from the night before.  Or a hummus veggie panini from your favorite local deli.  The day's chores done you arrive at your friend's house feeling energized and strong, ready to enjoy the holiday gathering.  You grab a glass of seltzer while you say hi to everyone already there and get the lay of the land.  Someone passes a tray and implores you to try the mini cheesecake cups - they're the BEST.  Thanks but I'm good, you say!  You're not starving and after all, you don't love cheesecake, so decide to "save" yourself for the true treats...  By the end of the night you'd have one really good holiday edition beer, a plate of veggies, some cheese & crackers, and a sample of your friend's killer peanut butter candies.  Just a few hundred calories later you go home feeling warm and happy, having enjoyed great company company, good food sampling, and NOT feeling like you could blow up!

There's always room for a little naughty, if you add in a dash of nice...take our Sunday brunch for example...which was followed by a run at the park in the afternoon and a pot roast with veggies for dinner:

Homemade Bacon Pancakes - just a tiny little naughty...

Served with some fresh fruit - a LOT of nice!

It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the holiday goodies, but a couple of carefully executed strategies will definitely help, just a little thought and planning can go a long way.  Here are some basics:
 - STAY ON AN EATING SCHEDULE:  As much as you can try and eat breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks as regularly as usual.  Don't fast for the day expecting to earn yourself extra treats.  This never goes well in the end! 
 - DO SOMETHING ACTIVE:  With vacation and parties, it's easy to get spread really thin.  You may not find the time to get to the gym or do your normal workout and that's OK.  Forgive yourself.  You won't blow your fitness with 1 week of less than stellar training.  But try and do something...even if it's a ten minute walk around the block with the dog...something is better than nothing!
 - GET SOME SLEEP:  I repeat, it's easy to get caught up in trips to see Santa, parties, family obligations, and run out of time.  Staying up late and getting up early sound like an easy way to "buy" yourself some extra time, but what it will buy you is a weakened immune system and the likelihood of a post-holiday sick-fest.  And who wants to remember the holidays by being miserable in bed for several days???
 - SET LIMITS & JUST SAY NO:  You can't do it all.  No one can.  Set the menu smaller.  The party hours shorter.  Tell your best friends to all meet for a special brunch - enjoying each other's company, no presents needed.  Have your family do a name swap - do we all need 15 presents from different family members to make it "fair"?  Relieve the time and financial stress and make one present special...then do fun, creative, LITTLE stocking stuffers for all!
 - WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK FOR HELP:  I repeat, NO ONE can do it all.  Ask your spouse, friends & family for help.  Hire the teenager next door to entertain the kids while you wrap presents.  Instead of that brunch, meet your friends at a park and celebrate your togetherness with a brisk, refreshing'll be knocking two things off your list that way!

And at the end of the day, let's just enjoy it all.  The holidays should NOT feel like a should be a time to relax, renew, and enjoy.  Easier said than done?  Sure!  But each small choice you make to balance can help you feel more in control and positive about the whole time.  Me?  Yup, another long day in our DC office - but I did get up and do 5 miles of hill repeats this morning.  A small decision that leaves me feeling great!

What are your tips for survival?  Magic wands welcomed!
 - Shelly


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