snow angel Alan LightRemember the days of holidays past when you waited with anticipation and excitement for the holiday season? I have fond memories of trips to upstate New York to see aunts, uncles, and cousins I only got to see a couple of times a year.

We had snowball fights, made snow angels, organized everyone’s gifts under the tree into piles while secretly trying to guess what ours were (this was before online Wish Lists, when most of the time we really had no clue what was in those gift boxes)…sure we ate, but we were so busy playing and visiting that we really didn’t eat that much–well at least not until dessert 🙂

Fast forward a couple of decades when we’re the ones actually buying and wrapping those gifts, braving holiday traffic and bad weather to visit out of town family, unpacking (and re-packing) holiday decorations, cleaning house and planning holiday menus and parties, etc. While we might still see some of our favorite family members, it’s likely that new members of the family have entered the picture either via marriage or divorce, and maybe these obligatory holiday parties aren’t as relaxed, laid back, or fun as they used to be.

“I mean, what will Aunt Myrtle say about the holiday decorations?”

stress“I can’t believe Granny noticed that cobweb in the corner…I went over every inch of this house!” “I hope Cousin Ethel won’t serve THAT side dish again.” “Why must Uncle Herbert insist on arguing about politics around the dinner table?” You know what I mean.

Of course the kids are probably oblivious to all of this just like we were when we were children. Lucky them. But the grown ups are likely not that lucky. So we eat. And drink. And pray for it to be over. Repeat.

Now I’m not saying every holiday in every family is like this, but in general, holiday season is the time of year when people feel the most stress, AND gain the most weight. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. Last week I presented a webinar with the same title of this post:

5 Ways to Stress Less and NOT Gain Weight During the Holidays. And here they are:

1. Set limits–it’s OK to say NO!

  • On portion sizes?how much of each item you will eat
  • On budget?travel, gifts, parties, food, outfits, decorations
  • On time?at each function, with individuals, time cleaning and planning
  • On alcohol consumption?this is one major cause of weight gain and stress! Not to mention hangovers and broken capillaries.

Gratitude-Quote-Oprah-Winfrey2. Focus on gratitude

  • ?It?s not happiness that brings you gratitude?it?s gratitude that brings you happiness.?
  • ?When eating a fruit, be thankful for the person who planted the seed.??Vietnamese proverb
  • “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and never giving it.? ?William Arthur Ward

3. Pre-program your mindset

  • Create and repeat positive affirmations for yourself
  • Meditation
  • Set realistic expectations for who and what you’re bound to encounter at each function, what the topics of conversation will be, what kind of food will be available
  • Plan ahead?have a plan B

4. Bring something healthy–this way you’re bound to have at least one healthy thing to eat

  • Snacks
  • Side dishes–check out my mashed cauliflower recipe HERE.
  • Desserts
  • Appetizers

Holistically Haute mashed cauliflower5. Focus on what you can control

  • Eat really healthy all other times–have a green smoothie for breakfast before a holiday luncheon and for an afternoon snack–you can even freeze them and pack them to go with you on trips!
  • Add fitness when you can–use yoga and fitness apps on mobile devices, do jumping jacks or planks, run in place or do squats…even a little bit helps
  • Start day right?lemon water, ginger tea
  • Bring vitamins and probiotics–the probiotics will help break down hard-to-digest foods and excess sugars. Digestive enzymes might help too.
  • Be compassionate of others?they’re probably stressed too! Most people aren’t intentionally mean or critical. It’s often a defense mechanism or effort to compensate for their own feelings of stress, envy, inadequacy, or other negative emotion. It likely has nothing to do with you.
  • Pause and think before you react to others–consider carefully if your gut reaction is worth the response from the other person. Is the person irrational or drunk? Or both? You can’t reason with a person like this, or someone who is distracted by their own holiday psychoses. It’s OK to just smile, nod, say “yes, OK, I see”…and move on. You can always pick up the conversation (or argument) at another time if it’s really that important…and you’ll likely find that it’s not.

Do you need more healthy, happy holiday tips? Schedule a one-on-one, 45-minute Hash it Out phone or Skype session. I’ll give you personalized strategies during the call and after in a follow up email 🙂

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