Oh…. the holidays. Family get togethers, office parties, shopping, fighting for a parking space, eating, drinking, getting fat, crabby and loosing your mind with lists that seem to go one forever. If the holiday season is disguising itself as your own private nightmare I have some great advice that will help you enjoy this season of good cheer.
1. Exercise every day. Yes, I know, this first tip doesn’t really sound like a great idea, but it’s the one thing that can really make a difference. Your brain may want to take a break from working out, but your body is screaming to keep on moving. Keep your body active or it’ll rust. Make it a commitment to yourself. If you belong to a gym, keep going. Write it down on the calendar and just pack up your workout stuff and go. No gym? Going for a walk outside everyday will help you control the stress of the season as well as give you the added bonus of calorie burning. Your best bet is to walk for 30 minutes a day and its okay to break it up into three mini 10 minute walks, just get out there and do it! Whatever works for you and your schedule – keep moving.
2. Eat breakfast everyday. They don’t call it break the fast for nothing. Think of your body as a machine that needs fuel. No fuel. No energy. Less brain function. More frazzled nerves. Eating a breakfast of whole grain cereal with skim milk or low fat soy milk and a serving of fruit is a win/win situation. You’ll think better, feel better; and if this works for you; people who eat a breakfast of whole grains are thinner than people who don’t.
3. Make sure that you’re getting lots of fruits and vegetables. They’re loaded with antioxidants and will help your immune system fight off colds, the flu and whatever else is going around. Try fitting them into mid morning and afternoon snacks as well as loading up at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rule of thumb is 5-10 serving a day, but that really is too broad a range. Aim for 10 a day and your body will say thank you. Choose the darkest coloured fruits and veggies out there. Broccoli, kale, oranges, sweet potatoes, apples with their peel on, and pomegranate juice are all in the big winner category. Fruits and vegetables are really powerhouses of nutrients and antioxidants so load up.
4. Don’t pig out at a party. Remember that you’re at the party to have fun with people. I’ll be the first one to admit that food is fun too, but people are supposed to be more fun, so engage yourself, make conversation and the next thing you know, you’ll be having fun. Peruse the food, decide what you really want to try, and limit yourself to a small portion. Remember size matters…..especially when it comes to food. Big portions equal big calories. It really is all about Math. Calories count. The only freebies are raw veggies without the dip. Graze on those, have a small portion of something wonderful and then walk away from the food. Go and meet someone new.
5. Which brings us to alcohol. Women, we’re allowed 1 drink a day as long as we eat at least 5-10 servings of fruits and veggies. When we don’t get enough folate in our diet, which we find in fruits and veggies; especially the dark green ones, we up our chances of developing breast cancer. So make sure you eat that raw broccoli at the party and then you may have a drink, a drink, yes one little weenie drink. Men, you’re allowed 2 drinks a day. No one gets to stock pile. If you don’t drink Monday to Friday that doesn’t mean that women get 5 and men get 10 drinks on Friday. Moderation is always the key.
6. Over indulging. Okay, you didn’t pay any attention to above advice and you are totally hung over the next day. Drink lots of water, pray you’ll live and go for a walk
7. Adopt a positive attitude. People who live long and healthy lives are optimist people. Did you know that when you smile, even if you aren’t happy, your brain will believe you are? Choose to smile and laugh even when the turkey isn’t cooked and the potatoes are burnt. Put the turkey back in the oven, throw out the potatoes and remind yourself to buy a Butterball next time.
In National Geographic, November 2005, The Secrets of Living Longer, author Dan Buettner said that after interviewing over 50 centenarians, “there wasn’t a grump in the bunch.” Positive thinking, optimist attitude and great senses of humour win out. The only thing in life we get to control is our attitude. Choose a positive one and live longer and happier.
8. Get enough sleep. That means on average 7-8 hours a night. Getting enough shut eye has been linked to lower levels of heart disease, type II diabetes and obesity. Getting enough zzzz’s is the time when your brain gets to recharge and your immune system gets to reboot.
9. Wash those hands. Make it a household policy to wash your hands as soon as you get home. Just plain soap and water will do the trick and a chorus of Happy Birthday to make sure that you get those digits of your totally clean.
10. Give of yourself. One of the best ways to stay healthy is to be generous of spirit. Healthy happy people give others their time and attention. That’s not a message to harried parents to run yourself into the ground, but families who give to others are happier families. Share the spirit of the holidays.