Healthy Holiday Tip of the Week: Plan Your Jan Now!

Let’s be honest. Are you listening to that little angel on your shoulder telling you to keep on course with your exercise + mindful eating? Or, are you starting to tip the scales more in the other direction, towards that little devil, and finding yourself loosening up your commitment to the 6 am spin, as you loosen up the notch on your belt at the same time? Not to worry though, because come January 1st, you’ll get right back on track, right? Sadly, not very likely. Most Americans who gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve generally don’t lose that weight ever again (1). Some meals people eat during the holidays can add up to 2,000 extra calories or more so they could actually put on an extra pound every day if they keep indulging like this. Once they become used to the higher calorie intake, it may seem like normal and they continue on that level. Ugh. So where does that leave us? Forced to choose between enduring a diet of celery sticks and skinless chicken breasts while your friends, family and colleagues feast on stuffing, pies, cookies and eggnog? Not at all. Remember, when executed properly, eating food that tastes good and food that is good for you does not have to be a choice. When we shop, cook and dine with a focus on local and in season food, we can easily create a scenario in which we enjoy ourselves, nourish our bodies and don’t feel in the least bit deprived. If we do this effective immediately, rather than leaving December to default rather than design, not only can we land in the New Year fit, focused and fired up to start out 2017 on the right foot, there will be no sense of having to follow some awful deprivation diet to make up for mishaps in December. Easier said than done? Here are my top five to Plan Your Jan now! Pick a physical activity you want to engage in, in the New Year and get a move on, now. Have you always loved the idea of climbing Everest but you live in an area that’s flat as a pancake? Or maybe you just want a reason to get to the gym that’s more exciting than fitting into those skinny jeans? Whichever the case may be, choosing a specific goal and even signing up for it, or making the necessary plans around it can be your ticket to ensuring you actually do it. And tell people about it! We all benefit from extra accountability! Set Goals, not resolutions. Notice I used the word goals over resolutions? This was done intentionally. A resolution is simply a a firm decision to do or not to do something, but there’s no action. Our brains respond better to what to do than what not to do. If, every year for as long as you can recall, you’ve resolved to stop eating cake, resolved to go to the gym more often and resolved to stop drinking but had no plan as to how you’d achieve those resolutions, how could you be surprised when they didn’t come to fruition? Being stubborn can only get us so far. We need to get into activity, now! Draft New Year Goals now and work backward to see how you can get started today. What is so magical about January 1st? As far as I can tell, nothing. If there are things you’re unhappy with in terms of health, fitness, mind, body and spirit, and you’re already aware that you’re not satisfied with them, what good does it do you to wait another month to address them? Change can be scary, but how much do you really want to stick with the known when the known is not exactly leaving you feeling fulfilled? Be proactive and prepared. Why are so many people stressed out during the holidays? Dealing with family members, the financial stress of buying gifts, and the social stress of attending social gatherings, where you might not feel comfortable as well as the loneliness of being reminded that you don’t have people to celebrate the holidays with can all contribute to feeling uber stressed (2) during what could also be viewed as the most wonderful time of year. So rather than planning on being blue during the holidays, make them fun and festive. If the family is too stressful, spend time with friends. If the budget is too tight for shopping, make gifts rather than buying. Even though it might not be traditional or typical, planning something more enjoyable will not only be empowering, it could actually turn the holidays into a time of year you love! Be the gift. Take time during the holidays to self reflect and be the change you wish you could find in others. It’s incredible how even just taking a moment to let someone else finish a sentence or take a breather before reacting to an uncomfortable situation can diffuse what otherwise might have been a live wire. Just like physical training, mental training towards being more calm and centered plays a huge role in overall wellness. Whip out your journal and get started planning your Jan now! Gustafson, R.D. Timi. “Weight Gain During the Holidays Is Hard to Undo.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. Charles, Katie. “The Holidays Can Bring on Stress for Many People.” NY Daily News. N.p., 14 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.