Friday, November 29, 2013

5 Things you need to do to get through the holidays

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and you know what that means… The holiday season is upon us.  For some, that can put a new meaning on the term “Black Friday”. All that work we have put into losing those 5 lbs. is could be negated by Eggnog and Candy canes. The evening walk that helped your body and mind during the summer and fall becomes more difficult in the dark and the cold.  According to research, this can be the most stressful time of the year. It is also when cold and flu season is really getting cranked up. The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but they could be full of pitfalls that can turn it into a nightmare before Christmas. In the spirit of the holidays, we have come up with 5 remedies to the holiday blues.

1.       Hydrate: Hydration becomes more difficult during the winter due to the dryness that accompanies the colder weather. Twenty percent of our hydration comes from food, however winter foods have less natural water in them than the summer fruits and vegetables. Alcohol and caffeine can actually add to the dehydration. This can lead to impairment in cognitive skills and make you more tired and lethargic. Hydration allows our bodies to rid themselves of toxins and waste products that can lead to illness and disease. So remember the rule of 8’s (eight servings of eight ounces of water a day).

2.       Sleep: It seems nobody gets enough sleep these days but this becomes worse around the holidays. Shopping, partying, and year end projects can take their toll on your sleep pattern. The stresses associated with these activities can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Being rundown is the last thing you need at this time of year. For one thing it will make you more susceptible to illness. Try to avoid late night eating, drinking, or partying. The body needs some time to slow down and prepare for sleep. Food, alcohol, and activity just before retiring tends to keep your body’s metabolism revved thus disrupting sleep. Try reading a book instead of watching TV as studies have shown that TV stimulates parts of the brain that can prevent sleep. If you can’t get stressful thoughts out of your head try concentrating on a peaceful or pleasurable thought. Take yourself to a place or time that brings you happiness and stay there until you fall asleep.

3.       Exercise: The holiday season can take a real toll on your exercise routine. Why do you see so many ads for exercise clubs and equipment right after the New Year? It might be the cold or the dark or the myriad of seasonal activities that disrupt our activity level. If you have a regular workout time stay with it and if you don’t have one this is a great time to start. Remember, all you need is 30-40 minutes three times a week. Even walking counts so bundle up and get outside. Try skiing or snowshoeing if you want an extra challenge. If you can’t find 30-40 minutes to free up, you can get the same result from three or four 10 minute segments. This will help you have more energy, sleep better, and prevent illness.

4.       Try to limit over-indulgence: Here’s where those extra pounds really add up. We tend to eat more and consume more alcohol than at any other time of the year. Late night parties especially can lead to gaining weight and losing sleep. So in order to keep indulgences in check, have a healthy snack before you go to the party. Use a salad plate to keep the portions smaller. Discipline yourself to have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Try to stick to the healthier party foods such as fruits, vegetables, or shrimp. In particular go easy on the desserts and high calorie snacks. And above all, pace yourself. Have a small snack and then engage someone in conversation. That way you won’t leave the party feeling overly stuffed. You will probably also have a better time meeting new people or catching up with old friends.

5.       Have more Fun: Seems like a simple concept so why is it so elusive some times? Sometimes the stress that goes with this time of year can take the fun right out of it. Remember when you were growing up and the excitement of the holiday season? It is still there, you just have to find a way to get it back. In the end it’s not about presents and parties, it’s about friends and family. Try to come up with activities that will rejuvenate those relationships. Take some family walks or just hop in the car, grab some hot chocolate, and go see the Christmas lights. Organize a game night or invite your favorite friends over and prepare a dinner together instead of going out. Work out together or take you partner ice skating. Make the memory of the holidays more about what you did together than what you had under the tree.

The holidays are a magical time of the year where for a few short weeks we can escape back to another time, a time where the wonders of childhood can emerge and fill us with joy. But underneath the magic are pitfalls that can turn the season into a time of stress and disappointment. You can avoid these problems with five simple solutions. Follow these suggestions and when New Year’s comes around you won’t have to worry about resolutions, you will have already made them.

 Happy Holidays from MDFitness!

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