Two years ago, around New Year’s Day, I got the flu. A bad one. It laid me out for a week, and although I cut myself some slack for getting sick even though I’m a health coach, I did have a pretty clear idea about why I got sick, and I vowed it wouldn’t happen again.
See, that year I didn’t take care of myself because I was too busy taking care of everyone else. My sugar cravings got free reign because I was over-tired and stressed out, and I had more than my usual 1 glass of wine at every party we attended.
The stress, sugar, and lack of sleep got to me, and my body’s immune system tanked. I also put on a few extra pounds, and didn’t feel my happy, healthy self when the first day of the year rolled around. The holidays are supposed to be the season of lights – but most of us don’t feel lighter at the end of the sugar- and alcohol-laden frenzy between Halloween and New Year’s Eve.
So this year, I’m going back to my old foundational ways of living and eating that support my happiness, health, and still allow me to party and celebrate with friends and family. Here's how you can thrive this holiday season, and greet January 1st with a smile.
Holiday parties are littered with "temptation traps" and if you’re not prepared you might find yourself starving, surrounded by pumpkin pie, and energetically drained of all willpower to stave off a pudding-spree. Use these pre-party strategies so that you can enjoy going out without stressing out:
1. Don’t skip meals.
If you’re heading out to an after-work holiday party, take an extra protein-shake with you for a late afternoon pre-party meal. Add extra fiber to it so you’ll feel full and keep your gut healthy, and make it delicious and winter-appropriate with unsweetened coconut milk, and some chai spices like cinnamon.
2. Remember the 2-to-1 Rule.
Hangovers are not sexy. Keep yourself from drinking too much by alternating every whiskey or glass of bubbly with two glasses of water or seltzer with lemon. This simple rule also keeps you and your skin hydrated which we need help with in the winter.
Bring your own healthy dish to potlucks and holiday brunches. Sneak in a delicious dish that you can share and enjoy without worry. A baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts, salad with pomegranate seeds and marinated tempeh, gluten-free scones, or a winter white celery root soup that will delight your friends. Be sure to have the recipe on file, because everyone will ask you to email it to them!
Eat To Be Happy
I know this sounds totally opposite to the prevailing “eat to live, don’t live to eat” mantra, but ask yourself this: what does it feel like to be truly happy? And how do you need to eat to feel that way?
Enjoying great food is one of the best parts of being human. But when we obsess about every tiny bite, it takes the joy out of the experience. So I challenge you to find the sweet spot and eat to be happy AND healthy.
For me, being really, consistently, goofy-happy means I have energy, like how my clothes are fitting, and that I feel confident moving around through life. In order to feel that way, I know that 80-90% of my meals need to be filled to the brim with greens, lean and clean proteins, whole grains, and other healthy ingredients. I’m happy when I feel good. And when my body is fueled with mostly-perfect foods, I can enjoy a glass of wine, a bit of dessert, some truffled goat’s brie, or other holiday delights that might cross my path.
So find your happy place and really look into how your meals are setting you up to feel this holiday season. Could you do things in a new way to feel light?
Transform Your Holidays Into Heart Centered Rituals
Generate Heart Habits: We are what we do repeatedly. The cool thing about the holidays is that you can transform your habits to be more like heart-centered rituals that grow your vitality and help you stay focused on what really matters to you.
1. Go the f#ck to sleep.
Yes, go out and party! Just don’t stay out all night, or watch TV into the wee hours or stay up late too often. A lack of sleep is a huge willpower killer. You’re more likely to overeat, crave sabotaging foods like sugar, and rely on caffeinated adult-milkshakes (aka mochas with whipped cream) if you’re tired. Make a pact with yourself to get to bed by 10pm, 5 nights a week, beauty.
2. Give yourself the gifts you deserve.
I try to give myself a small, non-food gift every day. When I feel loved and thankful, even to myself, I’m much less likely to engage in sabotaging, energy-draining habits. Fresh flowers, lit candles at every meal, aromatic essential oil breaks after lunch, toxin-free manicures, 10-minute walking breaks at sunset, 5-minute yoga breaks, and herbal tea tastings with a friend are all easy ways to feel rewarded. A 90-minute massage never hurt anyone, either.
3. Hang with happy people.
Who are the 3 to 5 people with whom you spend the most time? Turns out, these are the people who have the biggest impact on your life. Are your friends more likely to head to happy hour or an evening of chanting and hot yoga? Stack your calendar with people who enjoy the rituals and habits that keep you happy and healthy, rather than drained.
You can thrive this holiday season, and greet January 1st with a smile! Join me in my free 28-Day Enlighten Challenge starting Friday, November 29th!