Maintaining health and wellness around the holiday season is rarely easy. If you are like me, a healthy lifestyle is doable and sometimes enjoyable until the end of October when the days get shorter and colder. Then, I’m tempted to stay inside and forego exercising in exchange for grazing on the Halloween candy that I bought for costumed “Trick-or-Treaters” (M & M’s are my weakness).
After Halloween, I enjoy inviting friends over before, during, and after Thanksgiving as I attempt to cook the “Best Turkey Ever” and then take on the “Leftover Makeover” challenge.
Rounding the corner toward Christmas, I’m out shopping and eating while graciously receiving gifts of homemade cookies doused with frosting, brownies, and deliciously decadent candies from friends and students. This Holiday Eat-A-Thon also includes weddings, birthday parties, Hanukkah, Christmas gatherings, New Year’s celebrations, and football championships “couch-gating” (I would say tailgating, but I’ve never done that in my life, and my couch is more comfortable than any tail). By the way, did I mention the tremendous amount of stress and pressure that occur in our lives during the holiday season?
But there is hope—a New Year with resolutions and promises galore that include tackling weight loss, healthy living, and overall wellness. Publishers, marketing agents, and bloggers (I guess I am one of them now) know that when January 1st comes along, over half of the population will look for quick fixes to losing weight, getting in shape, and wellness. And most of us are lured to read and heed articles and books titled, 10 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Day, Better Ways to Buff-up Before the Valentine Day Buffet, or A New Rear for a New Year!
As an aspiring blogger who loves the topic of health and wellness despite my personal challenges, I want people to read my blogs and I am tempted to offer a “Quick-Fix to…” or a “Mind-Blowing Pathway Toward…” (these are the most used SEOs). But I have learned that we are all individuals with individual needs, genetic make-ups, and circumstances. Consequently, suggestions and “quick-fixes” that will work for one person may not work for another.
What I can say is that there is tremendous power in being wise with our wellness—knowing ourselves (body, mind, and spirit), understanding realistic circumstances (family, work, responsibilities), setting realistic goals (small attainable and large vision), considering one or two suggestions from experts and others (such as myself), testing them, and determining what works best for you. So I’ll be exploring some possibilities with you, and I can hardly wait to blog about topics like, AGED—A Four Letter Word! and Perfecting the Humble Lumpia (titles are tough in the blogosphere). But for now, let me offer 5.5 suggestions for health and wellness through the holiday season. Remember, consider one or two ideas that might be helpful:
- When stressed, exercise rather than eat—walking is one of the most natural activities to do. You can walk almost anywhere, and it doesn’t require expensive equipment except for a good pair of shoes. In a future blog, I’ll show you a couple of unique things you can do to “spice up” your walk.
- Practice “intentional mindless snacking.” When I work on a major project, I want to eat constantly and mindlessly. Rather than fight the “urge” and lose focus, I plan a healthy side snack and cut it into small pieces. Then I nibble on it, one bite at a time along with something to drink while I am working. That way, I can comfortably work. The other day when I started writing this blog entry, I had grapes and some tea.
- After accomplishing something during the holidays (like cleaning or decorating the house), reward yourself with something that has health or wellness benefits. The reward can be an activity that you don’t often do, dinner at a restaurant that has a delicious, healthy menu, or jogging in a new environment. Since many regions around the US are cold during this time, treat yourself to an indoor activity. I plan on swimming in an indoor pool if I write and practice guitar. But remember, you can also take a nice vigorous walk through a mall and heighten your experience by climbing up and down stairs (away from the food court).
- Encourage others around you to live a healthy lifestyle. In so doing, you and others can build a special relationship. When I was a university professor, I encouraged faculty and students in my department to get healthy. They were string players, and many of them suffered from chronic performance injuries. I showed them some stretches and weight training exercises to prevent muscular problems. I even went jogging with many of them. One of my doctoral candidates and I shared a passion for health and wellness, so she investigated the eating habits of college music students for her dissertation.
- When traveling during the holidays, plan for health and wellness. Pack your exercise shoes and a resistance band. Take healthy snacks. Make reservations at a hotel with a workout room or get a day pass at a local fitness center. I do all these things when I travel.
.5. OK here is my idea of a .5 suggestion— cut servings in .5 portions (in half) when you are eating a decadent meal. Do it right at the beginning of the meal to avoid temptation. Recently, I ordered a burrito, and even though I eliminated the sour cream and added lean chicken, it was still worth 1000 calories. I immediately cut the burrito in half which reduced my lunch intake to 500 calories. I consumed the other half later.
Now that you finished reading this blog, how about if we both take a long walk?