All year long, I tell people to take care of themselves. “Eat right, be active, and get plenty of rest” is my mantra. But during the holiday season, I find that even I myself am not listening to my own advice.
It seems that at this time of year, there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. Celebrating the holidays with friends and family should be joyous, but we wind up stressed out.
So what should we all do? Here are my recommendations—which I’ll be trying to follow, too.
Make time for exercise. Notice I didn’t say find time, because surely you aren’t going to. You must MAKE the time. Whether that means getting up earlier than you’re used to and going to the gym, walking instead of taking the bus or subway (no matter how cold it is), or discovering that yes indeed, you can do a yoga session at home. Exercise is a necessity in my book, to help keep you sane and feeling good about yourself. Got only 30 minutes? Any amount of time is better than no time. Those 30 minutes will make you feel a lot better than doing nothing at all. Schedule your exercise just like you would any other appointment, and don’t cancel—you’ll only be hurting yourself. I guarantee that you can get to a party fashionably late. And skipping part of the cocktail hour might not be such a bad idea.
Stay on track with your food choices. Grabbing that extra cookie or cocktail is not going to help you fit into your favorite pair of jeans. So no matter how many temptations are around you, be strong and set limits for yourself. Sure, grab the extra hors d’oeuvre if it’s a onetime deal. But if your social calendar is booked, then walk on by. Think of it this way: now is not the time to get sick. Eating nutritious foods packed with vitamins and minerals can help ward off illness, especially that lurking cold or flu. Filling up on high-sodium, high-fat, and sugary foods is only going to leave you feeling bloated and disappointed with yourself. Just remember: food is our energy. So on the other hand, if you plan on skipping meals during the day so you can indulge in the evening, you’ll end up walking around tired and grouchy all day. A no-win situation.
Forget the snooze button. Why not snooze, you ask? Because ideally, you should be getting to bed early enough that you don’t need those extra ten or fifteen minutes. After an exhilarating evening out, try to go home and unwind immediately. No computer or cell phone—completely disconnect and wind down. Take a bath, read a book, or relax on the couch watching your favorite program. Aim for seven hours of sleep a night. The more you get, the easier it is to avoid food distractions during the day. If you wake up exhausted, the buttered roll might be calling your name while the steaming bowl of oatmeal remains silent. Simply put, we usually make better choices when we’re well rested.
Personally, I am going to try to do better, especially with exercise. There is no reason I cannot roll out my yoga mat at home and practice if I can’t make it to a class. Staying on track with food choices, too—maybe a little lighter on the French fries. As far as disconnecting at night—not so easy. But maybe that will be my Hanukkah gift for my husband. A win-win situation.