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Healthy Holiday Habits

Part 2 of 3

So what comes to mind when you think of holiday parties? Gorging yourself on all the goodies you only get to have once a year? Fear that you'll sabotage your healthy efforts and the progress you worked so hard to achieve throughout the year? No matter your fear, I understand.

Been there. Done that.

Holiday parties can certainly evoke feelings of stress and fear rather than the emotions they're meant to bring out in us. After all, who wants to worry during such a fun and meaningful time of year spent with the ones you love? Who wants to be judged by others or even yourself for your food choices, good or bad? Have you ever tried making good decisions for yourself, only to find that others look down on you for not being like everyone else or treating you as though you're "holier than thou?" It's definitely not a good feeling. Believe me, I know! It's like you're damned if you do or damned if you don't. You pick up a cookie and hear, "I thought you were on a diet." Or you skip dessert and hear, "What, you're too good for our food?" Ai, ai, ai!!! It's enough to make you want to scream and slap everyone at the party!

While you can certainly jump right into the drama of others' judgment and commentaries, you can also learn to let it roll right over you. After all, you're the only one who knows how your choices will make you feel, what you've been through, how far you've come, and where you want to go! Why throw all that away for the negative vibes someone else is sending your way? More than likely they won't be there to share in the consequences of your choices when it's all said and done. And you can get upset with them for being all judgy or condescending, but keep in mind that either they're feeling guilty, jealous, lacking confidence; or they truly may be innocent to what's going on and are making generalizations based on tradition and nothing more. Plus, consider the source. If Uncle Bill, who always eats enough for two people, has diabetes, is constantly sick, and is one meal away from another heart attack makes those comments, do you really wonder??? Pity the poor guy and move on! Is he really worth getting all bent out of shape? Right.

So then, how do we get through the treacheries of the holiday season? Well, if you've been following me for a while, you know how I feel about making plans; they're essential! Cause like good ol' Ben Franklin said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So instead of seeing this holiday season as a dreadful game you'll never win, surrendering to the crowds and peer pressure, change your mindset and you might be pleasantly surprised at how it could turn out! Take a look at the ideas I share below to get you thinking about what you can do differently this year to have a great time and still feel great, leaving the party with a smile instead of regret.

Nine Ways to Navigate the Holidays Nutritiously!

  1. Eat only when you're hungry, but don't let yourself become ravished.

  2. Know your traps and avoid them. This takes some forethought to think through it and plan.

  3. Never grocery shop when you're hungry.

  4. Eat a snack with protein, fat, and fiber before going to parties. You don't have to go full, but with these nutrients in your belly, you're less likely to feel like you have to eat everything you see since you'll already be satisfied and have set a solid foundation with healthy food you have access to in your own home. (vegetables with hummus, an apple with the peel & nuts, organic meat stick)

  5. Mentally prepare yourself: remind yourself of your purpose and how you must stay healthy to serve that purpose, that you're worth more than most of the junk at parties, that you'd rather feel better long-term than feeling good in the moment, that you're wise to avoid an upset stomach and inflammation.

  6. Take a healthy dish and look for foods like nuts, vegetable trays, salsa, olives, tapenade, and fruit and stay full on water or flavored sparkling water. Take flavored sparkling water to the party or make my Virgin Mojitos recipe. (More recipe ideas coming in my next blog post!)

  7. Allow yourself to enjoy a couple of your favorite treats, but really enjoy them, without guilt or shame.

  8. Don't focus on the bad choices you might have made or get hung-up on your actions. Do take a moment to reflect on how everything felt and how you might be able to make a better decision next time.

  9. Last, but probably most important, maintain balance as much as possible. During busy times of our lives, we tend to push ourselves to the brink, neglecting time for healthy movement, stretching, meditation, and reflection. One way to be sure you stay balanced this season is to schedule it. Pencil it into your calendar, just like you do the parties and important events in your life. Otherwise, you'll find that it gets pushed to the side until the frantic season has passed, neglecting your needs during your most vulnerable time.

The bottom line is to control what you can and don't stress about the rest! Some of us don't think about it at all then wonder how we gained so much weight, got sick, or feel so bad. On the other extreme, some of us aren't capable of enjoying anything because of the stress we take on around food. I understand. That's why I wrote a book about it and can't wait for you to read it soon! Until then, try to find a balance for yourself, based on where you fall in that spectrum. Just take one step in the other direction. That's all I'm encouraging you to do this holiday season.

Isn't it funny how we often view the holidays as a time to get out all our crazy desires, naughty habits, and the things we know will harm us? We usually see it as a time to "be bad," just before we make our new year's resolutions to "clean up our act" and begin the dreaded purge. Then how long does that last? The idea is to make a paradigm shift with the way things have always been. If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten, right? If you're looking for something different, something more, a chance to make some changes so you can live a life of freedom and happiness, the life you dream of and the body you desire, it starts today, right now. I implore you to challenge yourself to look at your habits, seeing where you can start making changes, one at a time, little by little. It's when we feel like we have to change everything at once that we become overwhelmed at the impossibility of it all then give up, only to find ourselves worse than before. I urge you not to fall for that trap again. That's why I've written my book and have developed a program to help you do just that. I can't wait to share it with you in the new year! Until then, look for my next blog post in this series for recipe ideas for those awesome holiday parties coming soon!​ Go here for Part 3 of this 3 part series (Healthy Holiday Dishes).

In Love & Service,

Coach Leah


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