Thursday, December 15, 2011

5 Tips for Achieveing Balance during the Holidays

I think that all too often, the holidays become a time of stress for people as they get caught up in all that they "have" to do. Healthy eating tends to go out the window. People often feel they are too busy to exercise. The holidays become something that people try to "survive" instead of treasure and enjoy, and as a result, the true meaning and spirit of the holidays is lost in the hustle and bustle.

I have written on here many, many times about how important balance is to me in my life, and while it may be harder during the holidays to find that balance, it is not impossible. Here are my tips on achieving "FitFluential Balance" during the holidays. With a little effort, you can get to January 2 feeling happy and healthy.

1. NO EXCUSES. I am going to tell you plain and simple - if you only exercise on the days you are able to "find the time", chances are really good that it isn't going to happen. In life we make time for what is most important to us, and finding time to take care of ourselves (exercise) should always be on that list. On any given day you can be too tired, too busy, too sick, too stressed, or too WHATEVER to find the time to exercise. This time of year there are parties, concerts, programs, activities, obligations, shopping, dinners, traveling, to-do lists, etc. etc. etc. that take up time.  BUT, you CAN make time to exercise. You may have to get up extra early on an extra busy day. You may have to make time on your lunch break. You may have to sneak out after dinner or get something done once the kids are in bed. You may have to move around a training schedule for special days or do a shorter workout than usual. But you can always make time each day to exercise. Take out the "if's" and the "but's". No excuses. This is a gift you can give yourself, and if you do, you will find that your stress level is lower, your energy is higher, you are happier overall, and your clothes will still fit the same in early January. :)

2. Just say NO. I found that my life became a WHOLE lot simpler and a WHOLE lot less stressful when I figured out how to say "no" once and a while, and when I realized that the world wouldn't fall apart because I did. Maybe it's because when you have 12 kids, a husband who works a lot, and a demanding training schedule, that you only have time for the most important things in life.  Or maybe it's because I tried it once and realized how great it felt to say "no" to something that didn't really matter. Whatever the reason, cutting out the less important things has made a huge difference in a great way. Don't be afraid to say "no" to those little (rarely important) time demands that really, truly don't matter in the big picture (especially all the "extra" ones that are around this time of year). Ask yourself, "Would doing XYZ be the best use of my time?" If it is, go for it! If it's not, do not be afraid to say no.

3. Again, just say NO (most of the time). This time, I am talking food.  This time of year we are surrounded by treats. Cookies, candy, cakes, gingerbread, big dinners, egg nog, hot chocolate, and on and on and on. One or two treats a day can add up in the pounds in a big way (especially if combined with stress and a lack of exercise). And while a Christmas treat may make us feel good momentarily, it is not going to make us feel good long term. Try to maintain as close to your normal eating patterns as possible this time of year. Make sure your home is FULL of healthy and tasty options, so when you are hungry or tempted by an unhealthy treat, you always have a healthy option you enjoy. I used to feel like if there was a treat around I HAD to have it and somewhere along the line I realized it was ok to say no to food that wasn't good for me.

When I am tempted by something I remind myself about the big picture, and that being healthy and in shape is more important to me than eating "fill-in-the-blank".  That said, of course it is ok (and good!) to enjoy a treat once and awhile. I often ask my self is something is "worth it". I know what the calories are for a given treat and know how much I like it, and decide if it is worth the calories to me. Ice cream? Not worth it to me. Chocolate? Not worth it to me. Gingerbread? Worth it! Sugar cookie? Worth it! When I have something like gingerbread or a sugar cookie I take a determined amount, and then I eat it slowly and thoroughly enjoy it.

If you know you are going to a party or somewhere that there will be lots of tempting, unhealthy food, make a plan! Know (about) how many calories you have eaten prior to the party and about how much you want to eat at the party. Do NOT go to the party starving, and drink lots of water so you are well hydrated. Pay attention to "little bites" of things, liquid calories (which add up quickly), and how much you are really eating. Also, don't make the focus of the night out be on the food. Too often the focus of holiday get togethers IS the food. Focus on being out with your spouse, or visiting with friends, or having a fun night out. I went to a girls night out Christmas party a week ago. It didn't start until 7:30pm, which is after I am usually done eating for the day. I knew what they were serving and with my dairy allergy, none of it was food that would leave me feeling very well. So I ate a healthy dinner, went to the party full, chewed gum and drank ice water to keep my mouth busy, and focused on having fun with friends. I had a wonderful time, and at the end of the night I came home feeling great, instead of feeling terrible about overindulging.

4. Be kind to yourself. There is so much pressure on people, especially women it seems, to "do it all". And again, this time of year, the to-do lists are longer than ever. If you miss a day of exercising, or you pig out on Christmas cookies, don't beat yourself up over it. Talk to yourself the way you would a close friend. Keep in mind the big picture of your exercising and eating instead of focusing on what you did "wrong". No one is perfect and no one can really do it all, so don't make yourself crazy trying. Lift yourself up, don't beat yourself up.

5. Find ways to be Fit with your family. The holidays are all about being with the ones we love, and if you can combine being fit with family time, it is a win-win situation. Go for a walk. Go sledding. Go skiing. Go ice-skating. Do a family Jingle Bell Fun Run. Shovel snow for neighbors. Play a dancing game on the Wii. Do an exercise video all together (although this will likely end with much laughter!) Go to a gym and play basketball or find an indoor pool where you can all swim. Get active and have fun with those you love.

Those are my tips! Do you have a tip you would add? I hope you are all ENJOYING the holiday season and finding ways to be happy, healthy, and fit.


LBTEPA said...

Thanks! I love this! I often tell myself I don't have to eat all the Christmas food NOW - there will be other mince pies! I especially like your sentence about not beating yourself up for not being perfect. Thanks for yesterday's post as well - I have been working out a core/strength routine recently, and have now shamelessly pinched yours!

Tiffany the Dietitian said...

Good tips! And mother of 12? How do you find the time to run? I'm sure you've already blogged about this, but forgive me - I'm new :)

Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

Great tips! The older I get the better I get at saying no!

Hungrigyrl said...

Wow, you had me at Mother of 12! You rock! I, like Christy, am better at saying no the older I get as well. I believe some people create their own stress by committing themselves to more than they can handle. Great post.

Katie @ Will Race for Carbs said...

Great tips! Especially saying no. I have a really hard time with that (I think it is a middle child, people pleaser affliction). That is why I have been crazy slammed this week- I have a hard time saying no!

Jeannie said...

Great tips! I love hearing what others have to say and offer.

The Green Girl said...

Great tips but I especially loved #4.

H Love said...

Love all the tips....especially being ok with not doing it all. You are such an inspiration!