The holidays are a wonderful time of year to celebrate life, love, family and friendships. We embrace the warmth, the sharing and the beauty of the season…but for some of us, actually most of us, it is also a time of additional stress. We worry about money, getting the shopping done, putting the decorations up, cleaning the house, planning a menu, baking the treats, wrapping the gifts…the list seems to go on and on…and this is in addition to earning a living and raising a family. Is it any wonder why our health and wellness goals get put on the back burner this time of year? Food is in abundance, time is short, parties go long…and those damn sugar plum fairies are dancing in our heads.
For many of us, this time of year can be sensory overload. We get overwhelmed with the abundance of food and drink and it just seems easier to give in to all the temptation and just “start fresh in the new year”. That mantra seems to be as much a part of the culture of Christmas as Santa Claus. The holiday binge…the 10 pound “gift” you give yourself, along with all that negative self-talk, self-pity and of course the bow on top…guilt.
The truth is, most of us are not even aware of what all that excess sugar, fat and alcohol does to our body. Those ten pounds are just the icing on the proverbial cake…it is just the damage you get to see. It is our body speaking to us and sending a very clear message that it is NOT IMPRESSED with us. In order for our body to gain 10 pounds over the course of one month, we need to consume approximately 30 000 additional calories (that is over and above the nutrition our body uses just to breathe, beat our hearts, walk to the fridge etc.) So what we are asking our bodies to do is to ensure that it still does all the important things…like keep us alive and maintain a strong immune system while it has to sift through the "garbage" we are feeding it just to find nutrients it can actually use.
Our digestive system and immune system take a huge spanking from us this time of year, thanks to our over indulgence. Our healthy digestive flora (the good bacteria our body needs to keep us healthy…) gets nearly swallowed up whole by the naughty bacteria that feeds and thrives on sugar and fat…and in turn, our livers have to work extra hard to keep our immune system functioning…Imagine what can slip through the cracks when our liver, that amazing life saving filter, is over worked and under paid? It can literally take MONTHS for our bodies to recover and that is assuming that we go back to a clean, healthy way of living.
So considering all of this…why don’t we take a moment to consider the alternative…a healthy holiday. Does Christmas have to be a total junkfest? Do we have to indulge so excessively? Will taking an hour out of our day to move our bodies and be physically active REALLY interfere with the celebrations? Please, go to your calendar right now and count the days over the holiday season that you know you will be celebrating, especially the days that you will have no control over the menu. Now count the days that you will be at least 15 km away from your favourite gym. Probably not as many days as you thought, right? Now that you have your calendar handy, schedule in your work out times. Yes, go ahead and write it down.
Planning ahead and being prepared is the first and most important step to ensuring that we meet our wellness goals, especially during unstructured times, like Christmas. You can also plan your menu for the next few weeks. Take a blank menu planner and start filling in those “free” dates with healthy recipes! Print those recipes and tuck them in behind your planner…and while you are at it, start to make a grocery list of the ingredients that you will need in order to cook those healthy meals. Keep all of this handy! Take the guess work out of “What’s for Dinner?” You'll be amazed at how easy it is to stay focused when you are well prepared!
I know you are busy, but your wellness goals are important; and there are no short cuts or easy way outs. Ignoring your goals means you stop moving forward; or worse, step backward. Taking just a little time each day for yourself and making choices that honour your goals will keep your spirits elevated, your confidence strong, and your body healthy. This is the best gift you could possibly receive this Christmas.
I challenge you to create a new culture around the Holidays. Make it about living well. There is enough temptation outside your home…there will be no shortage of tasty treats just about ANYWHERE. Make your home a cookie/chip- free zone. If you have guests coming for dinner, then make a “healthy” dessert that is sure to offer no leftovers. Make sure you have a bowl of colourful fruit on your table and keep it replenishing it! Nothing is prettier as a centrepiece than a bowlful of healthy goodness!
I promise you that Christmas will still be special and you won’t have to stand in line in January trying to return those unwanted pounds, and you won’t need to wear those ugly sweaters ~ Guilt and Shame.
My wish for you this season is a home filled with joy, laughter and love…especially self-love.
I want to thank you for all of your supportive words and kindness over the past year! Hard to believe it is December already! If you enjoy visiting my blog, please follow me on over to Facebook, and join the Anchor Wellness community! This is where we share inspirational messages as well as wellness tips and cool information on a regular basis! Join us!
P.S. I have attached a free menu planner (below) to help you get started!
P.S.S. Visit the Eating Well website for healthy recipe ideas!