Some Sort of Balance (A How to Guide for the Holidays)

13 Dec

I’ll be the first to admit that I am always entirely overwhelmed by the holidays.  It’s like that song, The 12 Pains of Christmas, you know “rigging up the lights” “finding a Christmas tree” “sending Christmas cards”…all of that. But Christmas is also my favorite holiday, and a fantastic time to spend with family and enjoy all that life has to offer.

Right now is the perfect time for me to sit and think about how I maintain balance during this time of year, because I literally have something time consuming to do every single day this week! And I’m only about 25% done with my shopping! (Thank goodness for internet shopping)

Before I throw my tips at you, have you visited the FitFluential Blog? You’ll see that we focus on 4 Key Areas for Balance: Eat, Enjoy, Move, and Sleep. I’ve got some tips for you based around these key areas for balance, so you can maintain your balance during this crazy holiday season. Disclaimer: I *try* to do this year round, I’m just never as busy as I am during the holidays. 

1) Eat: This time of year is incredibly difficult to maintain sane eating. I understand that completely. I am not going to sit here and tell you to go into a party with a game plan, fill up on veggies and fruit, and drink water. I’d be a giant hypocrite if I did that. I like to eat, and I like to drink. I plan accordingly when I know I’m either going out to eat or going to a party. Here’s what I do, pre-party/dinner out:

    • Eat light and healthy all day. I’ll have a smoothie for breakfast, munch on fruit during the day, and usually a salad for lunch.
    • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. ‘Nuf said.
    • Get your sweat on. Burn some calories early in the day, and ramp up your metabolism.
Breakfast and Lunch on Party Day

Now, when it’s time to party hardy you can enjoy yourself without feeling incredibly guilty. However, remember these tips for during the party/dinner out:

    • Don’t overdo it. Don’t stuff yourself so full of crap that you can’t move and you wish you were wearing your pajamas. 
    • Don’t eat “out of the ordinary.” I’ve done this one too many times that I think I’ve finally learned my lessons. Fried food? Not for me. Rich foods? Also not for me. You know what you can and cannot stomach, so don’t go for the stuff that doesn’t agree with you.
    • Don’t overdo it in the booze department. Okay, once in a while is okay (as long as you don’t end up sick on the side of the road blaming it on the food…not that I’ve done that…). But if you plan on having a couple extra drinks just make sure you have someone to drive you home (I feel so motherly!). 9 times out of 10 when I go out, I have to drive myself, so I have to be very cautious – this helps my life and my waistline. Plus, I can’t train for a marathon while hungover. (Coachy made me run 5 miles the day after my birthday last year – it was ugly, but I was happy for it once I finally got my butt out the door. A good run does get rid of a hangover…)
Obviously, not my night to drive

2) Enjoy: Make time for yourself, your family, and your friends. I can’t stress this enough, especially during the holidays. Me and my family and friends have lots of holiday traditions:

    • Me and my stepdad go shopping every year together, just the two of us, for my mom’s gifts. We have dinner and a couple of drinks, then shop. (And he pays for it all, how fun is that?)
    • Me, my brother, and my parents have a sit down dinner together two Sunday’s before Christmas, and then we decorate the Christmas tree.
    • My mother and I have a cookie baking extravaganza the Sunday before Christmas (where I make a giant mess out of her kitchen) (and it always snows – I’m a bit concerned that there’s no snow in the forecast for Sunday yet…). There may or may not have been anatomically correct gingerbread people last year (don’t ask). 
    • My friend Sara and I always meet for dinner the Saturday before Christmas as our annual “Christmas Dinner” together. 
    • My stepdads brother has a Christmas Eve get together at his house with his family every year.  This year will actually be my first year attending, I hear it’s lots of fun and I can’t wait to go.
Our family decorated Christmas tree
Family Christmas Dinner
3) Move: I can’t stress this enough. I know it’s hard. Like I said earlier, I have something to do every night this week (when I normally work out). So (aside from today) I have planned to get up and hit the gym before work. I tried to get up to run outside this morning, but it didn’t happen. I should know better. I’m scared of (running in) the dark. Combine the dark with 25 degrees and it was much easier to reset the alarm and snuggle with Lexi (she’s a super cuddler, and warm!).

But if you plan ahead, you’ll get things done. I’ve literally started using a hand-written appointment book, so I can stay organized. I also know that if I pack my gym bag the night before that I will get up and go in the morning. I don’t love going to the gym in the morning, since I have to shower and get ready for work there, and it’s a royal pain in the butt, but I do what I gotta do.

Don’t let the holidays be your excuse to fall off the fitness bandwagon. Someday’s it’s just going to happen (like today for me). Don’t let it be a habit. 

4) Sleep: I do not have a problem with this. I love to sleep! I have almost always been a person that makes sure to get plenty of sleep (minus a few years in my late teens early twenties – but who didn’t do that?). I can function well on about 7 hours of sleep, so I make sure I get that. 

I also make sure to unplug for half an hour every night before bed. I put my cell phone on silent, and I lay in bed with my pup and I read. A real book. Not a Kindle or a Nook. A physical book. (I just re-read those last couple of sentences and laughed out loud – who am I? Dr. Seuss?) I have a small lamp on my nightstand that I turn on, instead of the bright overhead light, and I read until my eyes get too sleepy to read. Sometimes that’s only two pages, other nights it’s a whole chapter. But when 10:30 hits, I turn off the lamp, and I go to sleep, with my alarm set for 5:20 (I like to hit snooze once and get up at 5:30 – some days I end up sleeping later but I need to make 5:30 a habit so I can get stuff done in the morning!). This way I know I’m winding down before I sleep and I’m getting enough sleep. 

Sleep and enjoy at the same time. If only I could do this in December…

5) Don’t Stress:  I know, I know, easier said than done. But, it’s not worth it. Stress is a bad trigger for a lot of people. I’m not saying don’t stress just because you’re going to raise your blood pressure or give yourself a tension headache. It’s because if you stress you’re going to negate all the good you did with Tips 1-4.

    • You may turn to the cookie jar or eat the fried shrimp hors d’oeuvre, rather than something you’d normally eat, for comfort.
    • You’ll be too busy worrying about your stress that you won’t be able to enjoy yourself.
    • Stress can paralyze you, which will stop you from getting in a workout because you don’t want to move from the couch.
    • Forget sleep when you’re stressed, because you can’t turn off your brain to fall asleep.
Stress face – too busy to take off my coat? Not attractive at all…

I hope you enjoyed my tips for maintaining some sort of balance, during the holidays and every day!

How do you maintain balance?

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