Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season. The holidays lend new meaning to “multitasking”. Just as we finish our Thanksgiving dinner the reminders begin that “there are only 30 shopping days left until Christmas”. Invitations to parties, purchasing gifts, decorating for our homes, school plays, trips and preparation of delicious foods are all festive and fun, but can leave us drained. Now more than ever, it is essential to be organized.
Best strategy to maintain focus: Before your schedule fills up, schedule your workouts. Kick it up a notch by adding an additional workout day during the holidays. Record these important appointments on your blackberry or calendar; vow to yourself that you will not cancel. Prioritizing exercise is vital during stressful times. When we exercise, norepinephrine is produced, a chemical which helps us focus and better deal with stress. Do you know regular aerobic exercise actually changes the composition of the brain so that it is better equipped to handle stress?
Shop sensibly to reduce stress. In my own family, we have a tradition of exchanging Christmas wish-lists at Thanksgiving dinner. By each person creating their own Christmas wish-list, the giver knows what to buy and the recipient is happy with their gift. Make a list for everyone you intend to buy presents for. Keep to a budget. Shop online when possible. When you must go to department stores - buy only items on your list. When shopping, keep your energy up by eating before you go and carry a bottle of water. Holiday shopping reminds me of an “all you can eat” buffet: there are so many options available it is easy to become distracted and over do it.
Gift ideas that I love are:
- Lobster grams are delicious and healthy. www.livelob.com
- Harry and David Fruit of the month club is a classic with various priced options. www.harryanddavid.com
- Practice balance on the unstable terrain of the Airex Balance Pad. Studies have documented an improvement in balance and lower risks of falls in those who use the pad. www.performbetter.com
- Jump ropes are top calorie burners. Tanita makes a jump rope with a calorie counter. www.onlinefitness.com
- Pilates sessions with Allison in my office.
- My delicious Everyday Nutrition shakes.
Have fun at parties! Remember how much you loved parties as a child? Parties are good for you – you meet new people, laugh, dance, and generally enjoy yourself. Don’t spoil the fun by overindulging in food or alcohol. Practice moderation by making your first cocktail mineral water – then alternate each alcohol drink with mineral water.
Make your new goal: No holiday weight gain. Gaining weight over the next six weeks is not inevitable; you can control yourself. The secret is anticipating challenges and planning ahead. Living your life in a healthful manner is not difficult but does require mindfulness.
But what I like about Thanksgiving is what the day symbolizes: giving thanks for the good things in our lives. There is an old saying, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything”. We can all do so much more to preserve our health by exercise and healthful eating – let’s keep these in place for the holidays.