I’ve been thinking a lot about…
…the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year…”?!
I have small kids who believe in deer with red noses, so it’s pretty magical around my house. And it’s more hectic and stressful than usual. And it’s a really tough and lonely time for many.
The season also presents different challenges for each of us. So, what are my 5 minutes of advice going to be? 5 minutes?!?! I need 5 days to cover it all.
But I will take my own advice: no black and white thinking Meg, that only fosters a ‘why bother’ mentality. I don’t have 5 days to write, and you don’t have 5 days to read. So here are a few, unfinished, imperfect, tinsel covered lifelines I’d like to extend to you, I hope you find a few of them helpful:
- Natural light stimulates serotonin production; walking is a primal movement that physiologically decreases anxiety. The walk also burns a few calories and helps digestion after a meal.
- Borrow a friend’s dog. It gives the walking a purpose and hanging with animals has an amazingly positive effective on many of us.
Be selective with your beverages:
- Drink lots of water.
- Limit your alcohol in a number of ways: drink more water, avoid variety (what do you REALLY enjoy drinking? For me it’s wine. So, I make a point of skipping the host cocktails, and, yes, the eggnog and Baileys, and only drink wine at parties and dinner). Find sipping drinks. Often the sugary cocktails are easy to down without even noticing. Stick to the drinks that go down slooooooow.
Embrace some simple food-based rules:
- Divide your plate: Load at least HALF with vegetables.
- Eat before you drink coffee or alcohol. Coffee on an empty stomach causes blood sugar levels to spike, and then crash resulting in food cravings, dizziness, and irritability. Alcohol will pass directly through the walls of your empty stomach and enter your bloodstream immediately. You can figure out the rest.
- Eat slooooooooooowly. Mindfully. Put your fork down. Taste and enjoy!
- Drink hot soup at the beginning of a meal. The soup will swell the lining of your stomach making you feel full faster. Cheap party trick J!
- Have a healthy snack before you head to a cocktail party – keep raw vegetables and nuts on hand.
- Commit to an activity every day and PLAN for it. Schedule it in. Even when you’re away from work and “don’t need a schedule,” PLAN YOUR ACTIVITY.
- Short on time? Go High Intensity Hybrid: 2 minutes of hard cardio followed by 3 minutes of weight training. Repeat cycle 3 to 5 times!
- Everything counts, so walk, hike, pull out your yoga mat, find a home-based routine that you enjoy…
Find an ally (or two!):
- Create a pact with a loved one or coworker. Or with a personal trainer for that matter.
- Commit together to moving daily (do it together!), slowing down on your drinks (keep each other’s water glass topped up!), avoiding going for seconds, finding non-food and alcohol based activities for everyone to enjoy (play games, make decorations, build snowmen, hike…)
- Yes, I know. It’s tough to get enough sleep at the best of times. Please try to get as many hours as you can. The benefits of adequate sleep are far too numerous to list.
Remain Grateful and Generous:
- Instagram, Facebook, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan… It’s so easy to find lots of people who seem to be more successful, stronger, thinner, richer, happier, younger, luckier, more loved, more talented… The truth is there are far more people who are hungry, struggling to find a home or a job, have just lost or are in the midst of losing a loved one – through illness or maybe divorce… We might struggle to eat more vegetables, while many in Toronto can’t afford them. Keeping sight of what we DO have, of how lucky we are, and sharing what you can is so powerfully positive.
Ask for help:
- I certainly don’t have it all. But I’ve got some great strategies and ideas around exercise and food. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by a brilliant team who share this expertise. Please reach out and ask for some help. We’d be truly grateful for the opportunity to try and make your season better.
Meg Sharp, MSc., B.Ed.Kin, FST Executive Director of Personal Training CGoC