• Heather de Paulo

Make it Through the Holidays with Your Health and Sanity Intact

Tis the Season…


…to not sleep, eat and drink too much, attend social gatherings practically every day, stress out about getting things done before the kids are out of school …


I don’t know about you, but this is how I’ve been feeling lately! We moms wear many hats and it seems all of the hats are demanding something nowadays!


After waking up at 1am or 3am over the past few days with my mind racing with how I’m going to get it all done, I started thinking about what is most important and what can be cut out or modified.

First and foremost is my family. Right now, my kids are finalizing things at school getting ready for the holiday vacation, so they don’t have much school work these days. That means they spend more time sitting in their rooms on electronics. I think this is a problem with younger kids too.


Heather's family and dogs sitting in front of the Christmas tree

While I do believe kids should have some time to enjoy chatting with friends, watching their favorite shows or playing games on their tablets or computer, I’m not crazy about them doing it for hours on end while I’m sitting at my computer.


This is the time when we need to connect with our kids. Taking time to bake cookies (yes, white flour is allowed for holiday cookies!), playing games, going for a walk with the dog - whatever it is that you and your kids enjoy doing together (see some more ideas below).


Heather and her daughter doing a yoga pose

I know, we are scrambling to get our work done before we have to travel or so we can actually enjoy Christmas at home, but trust me, before you know it the kids will be gone and you will be an empty nester. You will have plenty of time to spend hours on your projects then. You can’t get NOW back again, so spend the time enjoying your kids while they are still at home (and if yours are still little, trust me, it goes by in a blink!).


What about taking care of YOU? That should actually be priority number one, but I know I will get some heads shaking no, which is why I listed family first, but really, you need to prioritize your own needs.


Seriously, take the time to get that workout in, get your nails and hair done, take a bubble bath, take time to meditate. Do what makes you feel good and destress. It’s only a fraction of time in your day and it will pay dividends.


Nutrition

So yes, I did say that white flour is allowed in holiday cookies, white sugar too. And so is hot chocolate and eggnog, plain or spiked. The holidays are full of indulgences and it’s part of the joy of the season: eating and drinking things you don’t normally eat and drink.

The key is to enjoy it fully when you do have it, not feel guilty about it and consume moderate amounts of it.


A cup of hot chocolate with a big snowflake marshmallow on top

There’s a big difference between having one or two cookies or one or two small glasses of spiked eggnog, and trying a cookie from every batch, seeing if they taste different if they are warm or cooled, finishing off that carton of eggnog, going for second helpings and grabbing a handful of goodies from the holiday gift baskets at work every time you pass the break room. Know what I mean?


You know the difference between what’s an occasional splurge and what’s excessive. Be logical, be smart and be moderate. Enjoy the treats, but make sure you still fill your plate with veggies at your meals, portion control your grains, proteins and fats and keep moving - don’t skip the physical activity!


The goal during the holidays is typically weight maintenance, not weight loss. If you go a little overboard, don’t say f- it, I already screwed up, so I’ll just go all out. That’s what will get you in trouble. Enjoy the splurge, forgive yourself and get back on track the next day or at your next meal.


Want a quick, easy and healthy recipe to serve your family on Christmas morning? Check out my December recipe of the month here.


Fitness

I already mentioned that you need to keep moving and I think you knew that already. What you may find is that you are struggling with making time to stick to your normal workout with everything going on these days. I personally work out at 5:30am so that I’m less likely to have schedule interferences and can stay consistent, but what I find happening is the social gatherings of the season are keeping me up at night later than normal and drinking more than normal, so I just don’t feel like waking up early for a killer workout.


The first thing is that you have to be kind with yourself. I know we are superwomen, but there’s a point where we need to put our feet up and we do need to sleep.


The workouts don’t always have to be intense. Just getting out there and moving counts. Remember when I mentioned spending quality time with the kiddos while they are on vacation? Since you don’t have to worry about homework and early bedtimes, how about taking a walk after dinner? If you have a dog, he/she would love it too!


Heather and her family on a hike at a beautiful scenic overlook

Every little bit counts, so here are some things you can do to get some movement in. I’m sure you’ve heard some of them a million times, but this will be a reminder:


  • Park in the back of the parking lot.

  • You will probably find you are in the building before the person who’s circling around for a half hour waiting for a front spot.

  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs (if possible).

  • This will REALLY add up, so take the stairs if it’s safe.

  • Instead of sending your colleague an email, walk over to his/her office.

  • Do you text people in the same house? Get off the couch and walk over to them!

  • Do some push ups and/or sit ups while watching TV, or squats while washing dishes or brushing your teeth.

  • Sit on an exercise ball while on the computer.

  • If you live where it snows, make a snowman or have a snowball fight with your kids.

  • If you live near a beach and it’s not freezing, build sandcastles, play beach paddle ball, frisbee, volleyball or beach tennis.

  • Play tag and hide and seek. Your kids will love it (even the teenagers!).


What are some things you have done or can think of doing to incorporate more movement into your day?


I know wearing a step counter may seem like something from the 90’s, but counting your steps to reach a daily goal can really help motivate you to move more. Nowadays, we have tech savvy ways to track our activity, a far cry from those little step counters that were more like kids toys.


As an example, if your goal is 10,000 steps for the day and it’s 7:00pm and you are at 9,000 steps, you will be motivated to do something a little extra to hit your goal, while if you didn’t have this goal, you are more likely to stay seated while watching TV or sitting at the computer.


Make it a goal to get through this holiday season with a head start into the new year. Enjoy the indulgences, but be smart and moderate. You will launch into the new year feeling great and can just pick up with your health goals where you left off before the holidays started!