Monday, December 3, 2012

It’s the Holidays !! By Valerie Hould-Marchand

For many of us, getting ready for the holidays is like preparing for a marathon. A hectic holiday schedule combined with an endless array of treats, countless hours spent shopping, and the added stress can really throw you off your game. If you’re not careful, the holidays can push you over the edge.

Here are a few ways to help you reduce stress, increase the joy, and keep you healthy during “the happiest time of the year”.

Plan Your Meals
Whether it’s for family or just for guests, you will probably be cooking a variety of special meals during the holidays. You can easily take some stress out of the season by not only planning ahead for the special occasions, but also for your daily meals. Stock your refrigerator with fresh produce, and take the time to wash it and chop it up into bite-size pieces. Freeze individual portions of lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish. Fill your shelves with quinoa, whole grain vermicelli pasta (which takes two minutes to cook), raw nuts, beans and lentils, tahini, nut butters, tea, and dark chocolate.

Even though it takes time to plan your meals, you will you save time in the long run. You will be able to create healthy meals within minutes without stressing yourself out.

Get moving
Research studies show that most adults gain an average of 3-7 pounds over the holidays. Yikes ! So take care of yourself and stay active. Create a home workout routine for those times when you can’t go to the gym. You can alternate between a minute of cardio (skipping, running up and down the stairs) and strengthening exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups. Get up early whenever you can and squeeze a longer walk, run or bike ride into your busy schedule. And why not encourage your guests or family to get in on the fun by organizing a game of football instead of lounging on the couch.

Sticking to your fitness plan will help you cope with the added stress and pressures that we all face at this time of year.

Limit Temptation
You will be bombarded with delicious foods at every gathering during the holiday season. So don’t fight it and indulge a little ! The trick is to stick to one treat a day. Focus on socializing instead, and take the time to catch up with loved ones rather than spending the entire party by the buffet.

Give Back
Rolling up your sleeves and giving back to your community can be extremely rewarding. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give to others is service. Volunteering during this time of year can really bring a lot of joy and comfort to those who need it most. If you volunteer at a local food kitchen or work to secure food donations for a food bank, you will be providing meals to hungry individuals and families.

You could also help take care of the environment by reducing waste, recycling, and reusing items as much as possible. Consider purchasing greeting cards that are made of recycled paper, or simply send free online greeting cards.

Remember, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. So relax, appreciate those around you, and celebrate these special days with love and laughter.

Until next time,
Heal yourself
Heal the planet

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