“It’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrrr!…..”
And it’s also one of the busiest. And craziest. And….foodiest.
Many folks look to the start of the new year to implement healthy changes, and while implementing healthy changes at any time is fantastic, we don’t have to wait for the new year to start to work on what matters most: our health.
Is this a challenging time to choose to eat better, or to exercise more? You bet! But it is useless to focus on failures that the challenge may bring. What if a challenge brings success? (…even if it’s just a little?) Let’s celebrate our accomplishments rather than grieving over our failures. In reference to the invention of the light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
So what can you do to be healthy during the holiday season?
Meal Plan. Start with a Meal Ideas List. Include on there healthy dishes you are confident in making, and look to other sources, either online or through cookbooks, to add to that list.
Decide how many meals you can, or need to, actually prepare in one week by looking at the week ahead. Also decide what you want your diet to include: do you want to eat more vegetarian meals? Eat less red meat and more fish? Do you want to stop eating so many foods that are high in added sugars? By designing your diet goals and fitting them into a week, you can begin to shape healthy eating habits. For me, honestly, I plan only about three different dinner meals a week. I cook from scratch, and cooking from scratch and heart tends to take a little more time than “30-minute meals.” My three dinner meals a week lead to reheated leftovers, or I turn them into a different meal. For example, baked salmon for dinner could be a cold salmon salad for lunch the next day.
Use a Grocery List and Keep Your Home a Healthy Haven! Write your meal plans into your planner, or use an app on your smartphone. From here, you can write up your grocery list. Check through your fridge and pantry to see if you need to stock up on any staples. My staples tend to be garlic, olive oil, butter (yes, I do use butter, but that doesn’t mean I’m right or wrong for doing so), milk (I am not exclusive to dairy or non-dairy), eggs, yogurt, mixed greens, and nuts. While you’re checking through your fridge and cupboards, see if there is anything there that does not need to be…
…Overripe fruit? Don’t throw it away! Freeze it for later use in a smoothie.
Leftovers a few days old that would exhaust your sanity to eat them one more time? Freeze those too!
How about any excess cookies, candy, chips or soda? Just get rid of it. Seriously!
If you are serious about making health a priority in your life, those things don’t belong in your home! And if you think it is a waste of money, you’re right, but you don’t have to waste your money any longer. Besides, look at the numbers and figure out exactly how much money is actually being wasted. Let’s say it adds up to $30.
Is your quality of life worth just $30?!
Alyssa, what about the cookies I want to make and give away to my family and friends? How about this: what if this year you tried not making cookies to keep in your house and to give to family and friends, and instead did random acts of kindness for them, and/or strangers? Spread love with health!!!
High blood sugars and inflammation is not love!
Navigate the Grocery Store Confidently. When your grocery list is written and the kitchen cupboards and fridge are cleaned out, you’re ready for the grocery store. Make your first stop the produce or non-perishable/non-food sections. Keep the chilled and frozen items for last to keep these out of the temperature danger zone (40-140°F) for as long as possible. That also means: make the grocery store your last stop if you have other errands to run that day. Become familiar with reading and comparing nutrition labels. If you don’t know how to read them, find out! I am just a click and a few keystrokes away from you, and I want to help. Believe that the answers are out there; you just have to look for them.
Make Healthy Food Accessible. As you reach home, get those chilled foods into the fridge right away, and frozen foods into the freezer next. If you’ve got time, wash or even cut your produce now, that way it is ready to go when you need it! But be sure to cut up only what you will use within two days. When you have healthy food within reach, it takes the difficulty out of reaching for soda, chips, or cookies (if you cracked and bought them at the store anyway!).
Schedule Exercise. Without exercise, our brain turns mushy, we lose energy and enthusiasm for life, and we lose strength in our muscle, bones and even our state of mind! The best way to get some exercise into your life is to make time for it. I hear people often say they don’t have time for exercise. Look, if tomorrow you suffered a major health condition that threatened your life, and you were informed that if you don’t change now you will die in a month, you would find that time! People often wait until something traumatic happens to change. You do not have to put your mind, body or soul through this stress! The opportunities are lying before you in this very moment.
There is never a better time than now, and how to do it is by changing your daily habits. You may try waking up an hour earlier. Maybe you can delegate some chores at home so there is a little more you-time. Perhaps you’re spending up to an hour a day on social media — don’t waste your time on this anymore! Use your time effectively, and include the stuff that matters! The time is there. Get rid of the things that don’t serve you.
STAY POSITIVE. If you don’t think you can do it, you won’t.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” Mull that over in your brain for just a moment…..
Is the prospect of failing scary? Absolutely! But you won’t know how life is on the other side if you don’t try. I find it useful to ask: what’s the worst that can happen? Oftentimes, the worst outcome as a result of striving toward positive change is simply a learning experience and not life threatening. Instead you might ask, what’s the worst that can happen if I don’t change my eating habits now? What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t begin exercising regularly? What’s the worst that can happen if I continue beating myself up? The outcomes of these have the potential to end your life.
Keep a power phrase turned on in your mind at all times. One I enjoy using is very simple and to the point, and I say it to a beat while bouncing my head, “I got thisss, I got thiss, I got thiss, I got this!” (because being goofy is awesome). It is time to start believing in yourself and stay focused on the positive outcomes!
Get Support! You need at least one person on your side to be successful. Surround yourself with those who are supportive of your needs. I believe you can achieve anything! Reach out to me for support – I want to help you! If you have a supportive spouse, friend, parent, cousin, aunt, uncle…whatever!…talk to them about your healthy goals. Sometimes this places you in a vulnerable state, but as you muscle through the fear, you will find it is alarmingly gorgeous on the other side.
Get adventurous, feel fabulous, and make some magic happen today!
Healthy Holidays, my friends.