As a mom of four under 10 years and another baby boy on the way (due December 25th of all days!!), I understand what stress the holidays can bring without the proper perspective. Many of us are low on time and want to make our holidays perfect for our family. We leave little or no time for ourselves, want to have the best dessert at the kids Christmas parties as well as having a ‘Martha Stewart’ decorated home. We need to get the perfect gift for our kid’s teachers, not to mention buying all of the holiday gifts for the entire family. Along with all the hustle and bustle comes stress and overeating with little or no time for maintaining our health and workout routine.
The bad news: One study reported that 69% of people are stressed just by feeling that they lack time.
The good news: You have a chance to make a difference now in how you decide to approach the holiday season! I want to challenge you to avoid stress, stay healthy and really enjoy your Christmas season for what is really important: family, friends and reflecting on the true meaning of this season.
Here are a few tips for staying healthy and sane this holiday season:
1. Get enough sleep
I hear some mom’s laughing; yes it really is possible during this time of year. Not getting enough sleep can have detrimental effects on your health. Impaired thinking, weight gain, and symptoms of depression are just a few results that can occur when you don’t let yourself rest. It has been shown that you actually eat more if you are sleep deprived, so get rest especially the night before a big holiday gathering.
2. Avoid the Crowds
Get as much shopping done as you can online. You will probably get a better deal, keep your stress levels down, end up having more time to take care of yourself and spend time with your family. If you do have to get out, learn when the least crowded days and times are to go shopping such as Mondays and Tuesdays for retail and Wednesdays for grocery. Also it has been shown that if you buy all of your gifts in one day you will spend less money overall. I love to go to Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx to get nice gifts for everyone at a discounted price.
3. Schedule your exercise
Budget yourself at least 15 minutes a day for some type of physical activity. To maximize your time, do short workouts that combine high intensity intervals alternated with core and strength exercises. It is hard to go to the gym this time of year so look for DVD’s (like MASH Up Conditioning) that combine all of these elements. You can also make it fun by chasing your kids around the backyard, playing a game of who can hold downward-facing dog the longest or race each other doing walking lunges.
4. Indulge in Moderation
Use the three-bite rule when sampling holiday treats. One study showed that individuals who only had a few bites of a food were just as satisfied as those who were given larger portions of the same food. Yes, you can still enjoy yourself while avoiding holiday weight gain. Also you can enjoy the entire party and not have to go home early for feeling sluggish or too full.
5. Learn to Say “No” and Plan Ahead
Don’t overcommit yourself in volunteering to organize or host every holiday party whether it is for your kid’s school class or at your home. In addition, never hesitate to delegate tasks or ask for help with holiday preparations. I love to have parties where all the guests bring a dish and we hire a babysitter to entertain the kids with holiday crafts while the adults mingle.
6. Eat One-Ingredient Foods
Try to stick to natural, unprocessed foods as much as possible. When you are grocery shopping, always look to see how many ingredients something has. Here’s a hint: Most of the one-ingredient foods will be found on the perimeter of the store. Also, when you are at parties stick to the veggie tray or a handful of nuts. You can fill your plate with one ingredient foods first then go back later for the other dishes and apply the three-bite rule.
Take some time for yourself and soak in a warm Epsom salt bath. I love to apply coconut oil after a salt bath and feel like I have gone to the spa. You can also get a manicure for less than $15 at most salons or stop for a 10 minute chair massage while running errands. Alternatively sweet talk your significant other to a back massage or drink hot vanilla almond milk or green tea before bed and gaze at the Christmas tree.
8. Optimize Your Nutrition
Avoid starches and sugars by replacing them with lots of vegetables and healthy fats like nuts to satisfy your hunger. I try to eat especially healthy most days before a big party so I can use the 3 bite rule at parties and feel satisfied. Enhance your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids through grass-fed/wild-caught proteins or fish oil and Vitamin D either through 20 minutes of sunshine or a supplement. Finally make sure to stay hydrated you will feel better and not as hungry.
Stacy Redwine is the Co-Owner/Coach for MASH Up Conditioning, LLC and has a BS in Exercise Physiology & Pre Physical Therapy, MA in Missiology, ACE Certified Instructor & Personal Trainer, is a Collegiate Athlete & Marathon Runner. Stacy has been a personal trainer and leads fitness classes all over the country for 15 years and is a proud mother of 5 and devoted wife. She has owned her own fitness studio and has authored several fitness DVD’s. She is passionate about showing others how to fit physical activity into every lifestyle, helping others look and feel their best because healthy living is a vital part of their life, spiritual well-being and stewardship of God’s amazing gift to us – our physical bodies.