5 Tips for holiday survival

Holiday survival guide: 5 tips for staying on track

With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, you’ve probably had a taste of holiday food and fun with friends and family. For me, anything that takes me out of my routine practices can be a little stressful, but like I said, that’s me.  The habits and consistency that you put in place all year round can apply to the holidays just the same as they do the rest of the year. And it all starts with a plan.

From Halloween until Valentine’s Day, there’s sugar everywhere. Halloween candy lingers around the office until the Pumpkin Pie spice season ushers in new sugar, followed by Christmas cookies and then New Year’s Resolution kick in while fending off all that Valentine’s Day candies. What if I told you that the inevitable weight gain over the holidays isn’t really inevitable?

Let’s get one thing straight – you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. So getting on a hamster wheel to undo your food choices just doesn’t work.

This doesn’t have to mean that you can’t enjoy yourself through the season’s festivities. It just takes a lot more planning and good decision making.

Here’s a few tips for getting through it successfully.

  1. Be clear about your goals. If you know that the holiday season is going to be busy and full of social engagements, set your goals for maintenance. Know what that means for you in terms of your food choices and your activity levels.  Keeping a consistent workout schedule is key, so find time to maintain your normal routine. 
  2. Drink a lot of water. Water is the elixir of life and is a helpful aid for digestion. We lose water through exercise, respiration, and digestion, so staying hydrated, especially in these winter months, is important.  Also, drinking water or other non-caloric drinks helps to curb appetite. Instead of choosing caloric or alcoholic beverages, keep a glass of water in your hand this holiday season, adding infusions like citrus, cucumber, and/or mint to keep it feeling fancy.
  3. If you’re not sure of the menu, bring something you can eat to share with your party peeps. Protein and vegetables work great in a variety of appetizers. One of my tricks is to drink a protein shake in advance so I know I am hitting my macro goals and helping to keep myself satiated before I’m staring at a buffet table. If you show up hungry, you’re just asking for trouble!
  4. Make the holidays about connecting with friends and family instead of food. Our culture is so food-centric, but it doesn’t have to be.  Make socializing or physical activities the highlight of our holiday season. There’s so many fun runs this time of year. Sign up for one and get your family and friends to join you as a way to support your health goals.
  5. If you decided to indulge, do it mindfully. Plan it. Log it. Enjoy it. In the big picture, this is just a month of your life. If you are focused on your goals, making mindful choices with your food, and consistent with your routine otherwise, you’ll get through it just fine.  Just be prepared to accept your decision and not beat yourself up over it.

Do you have any tips to share for holiday survival?  Share a comment!

Living more, with less

I watched the documentary Minimalism yesterday in an attempt to calm my nerves and expand my horizons.

In my studies at Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we talk about primary food — the concept of nourishing all areas of your life, including career, relationships, spirituality, and physical activity. Home environment has been one element of my world that feels out of balance. Our 1974 house needs some work and now that we’ve been here for 17 years we have acquired a lot of “stuff.” It can be stifling.

I tend to get into nesting mode before surgeries (yes, I have had that many) and clean house from top to bottom, declutter, and get organized. It’s been almost a year since my gastric bypass surgery. I had set up my little recovery area in the living room where I planned to binge watch every Netflix series and a laundry list of movies.

Ironically, I am sitting in the same spot almost a year later and some of the same magazines and books are still stacked on the table. And of course more stuff has found its way to the coffee table along with more electronic devices and remote controls. Hmmm. That tells me something.

Last week on my personal blog, I revealed my recent cancer diagnosis. I am awaiting consultation at UCSF Urologic Oncology department and expect to have part of my kidney, along with the evil inhabitant, removed in the near future. It’s made me turn even more inside myself that I typically am. Thinking and thinking. I’m turning to my typical de-stressors to try to reduce the anxiety: journaling, medication, yoga, rest, sleep, and nutrient dense food choices. That’s only taking me so far.

So back to Minimalism. Watching that film made me thing about eliminating excess in my life.  Yeah, obviously, less stuff. I know a massive declutter effort is brewing. But what else is excess? Drama, stress, things I feel like I have to do but are really a choice. We have one life to live on this planet, and this current threat to mine has made me more determined to find joy and focus on the things I am passionate about.

I was listening to one of my podcasts, Her Rules Radio, with Alexandra Jamieson and she walked through what she calls her Fuck-It List, which she defines as her approach to developing a personalized rule book for identifying the things you want to stop doing so you can focus on getting clear about the things you want to do. I downloaded her e-Book. This is the right time for me to take a hard look at my career, relationships with people, my spiritual practice, and to some degree physical activity and do some housekeeping. Adding this to my toolkit.

My mom died at 58, and I’ve always had that number in my head as something to beat. I took my health into my hands almost a year ago and got myself to a healthy weight and strengthened my body and my spirit. I have spent too much time Googling renal cell carcinoma survival and recurrence rates, and knowing I was diagnosed early gives me hope, but the fear of what I am reading makes living more fully the ultimate goal.

Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.