Once again, the holidays are upon us. Where did the year go? If you’re like many people this year, your year has gone by quicker than most. Was it the unseasonably warm, early spring, the hotter than normal temperatures, or just the fact that we are busier than we’ve ever been, in spite of technology (which was meant to simplify our lives)?
Now that the holidays are here, we’ll likely have less and less opportunity to just sit back, relax, and take a load off of our aching feet, not to mention less time to exercise, prepare healthy food choices, and, unless you haven’t added anything else to your proverbial plate this year, you are among many who bit off more than they could chew...again.
“So, is there hope for me yet,” you ask? The answer is a resounding, yes! There is always hope, my friend. There are some simple steps to follow to ensure healthy habits during the holidays. Just as with any challenge, you have to know your opponent if you want to come out the winner. You’ll need to know what obstacles may stand in your way and how you can conquer them. These obstacles include time, money, food, exercise, and stress. (If you’re one that doesn’t have these challenges, just do a friend a favor and pass this along to them...and keep up the good work! I’m sure you’re an inspiration to those around you.)
So, let’s start with time. Time management is a multibillion dollar industry. People have struggled with it since its inception. In fact, the holidays are usually when calendars, new year planners, and systems of time management are bought and given as gifts, either to others, or for ourselves. Try this on for size: look at your current calendar and prioritize it. Decide if everything in it is absolutely mandatory, or is there something(s) you could delegate or pass on, at least for the time being. As much as we’d like to think that we’re indispensable at work, home or other places, there is usually someone who would be willing (and sometimes wants to) fill in for you. But, if you don’t ask for help, you will NOT receive it, so humble yourself and ask.
The second opponent is money—the almighty dollar. There are several opportunities to save financially. One is to put a cap on gift giving, you know...a budget! That’s one of the hardest things to hear when we want to give so much and bless others. But it doesn’t always take money to be a blessing or give a gift. I know for my family, gift giving is difficult for our parents because they’ve been around and know what they want and need, and they usually get it. So we make homemade gifts such as photo collages, scrap books (which can now be done quickly online and are a big deal right now), or video pictures on a flash drive, along with a digital picture frame. Or how about a CD loaded with family memories of past and present loved ones. I don’t know, call me sentimental, but I would love any of these. The point is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on gift giving to feel good about what you’ve given. Many will be very happy, simply because you are there.
Now, on to one of our biggest opponents (for many at least), food! I think it should stand for Filling Our Overindulgent Desires. You may not know this, but Michigan (where I'm from) is now ranked as the fifth fattest state in our nation, according to an article from TIME magazine online, August 15, 2012, with Mississippi being number one and Missouri number ten (maybe it’s an “M” thing!). Food does much for us. It nourishes our body, it gives us comfort when we have emotional needs not being met, it provides jobs for hundreds of thousands, and it can either bring us health, or make us deathly ill. Talk about powerful! But the question is, do you control your food choices, or do they control you? Read closely now, it is possible to pass on seconds, and on desserts. Did you know that desserts is “stressed” spelled backwards? That’s a clue! We’ve got to eat to live, not live to eat. Manage this, and you’ll be surprised how many other areas of your life will finally fall into place. Food only has the control over you that you give it.
On to exercise. We all know this opponent, but when you control your time, money, and food better, this will also fall in to its rightful place in your life. Exercise is vital, especially during the holidays. It gives you energy and exercise is the pump we need to clean out our lymphatic system (our garbage dump) because it doesn’t have a pump of its own. Exercise also helps build muscle, which can boost your metabolism and burn fat up to 24 hours a day! Yes, even while you’re sleeping! Now, hang on, don’t run to the nearest gym just yet, we’ve got one more to go...stress.
We’ve walked through some simple steps to balance our time, food, money, and exercise...but did you know that even if ALL of those are in check, but stress isn’t dealt with, you may be busy rocking, but you won’t get far. Stress contributes to all major diseases and disorders. Stress is inevitable, but how we respond to it will determine how we spend our time, our money, how we eat and whether we choose to exercise; it determines our outcome in life, day by day.
Okay, to wrap it all up in a pretty red package with a big, beautiful bow, here are the basics: Know your opponents, what they’re made of, and then, what YOU’RE made of. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the goal. Remember, you DO have control over that cookie, not vice versa!
These simple steps can lead not only to a simpler holiday, but a healthier winter, spring, summer and fall.
Give yourself the gift that keeps giving and enjoy.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
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